Designed by Jack Nicklaus (his only within New Zealand) The Kinloch Club pays homage to the links courses of Scotland and Ireland, but is located in the middle of the North Island on the north side of the beautiful Lake Taupo. Award-winning architect Andrew Patterson also took inspiration in his build of the lodge- a modern interpretation of the Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum.
Players should not come to this course thinking that they will play under their handicap. This course plays at close to 7400 yards and is certainly one of the toughest tests of golf in the country. Playing from the tips will challenge the best players in the world, as the greens are well protected and accuracy for the approach shot is paramount. This course requires thinking and execution even in the fairways, as the undulations throughout can really move your ball on the ground.
One of the best aspects of The Kinloch Club is that it is built on pumice and the drainage is exceptional. With only perhaps a dozen days of frost in a given year this course is open 365 days. Players should be aware that as the temperature rises coming out of the winter months, like many courses, coring will take place usually in the first weeks of October. This necessity helps to avoid thatch collapse (which builds under the greens).
Changes to this course since its original design have improved green complexes on holes 2 and 16. Whereas the green in the past simply would not hold a well placed shot, today players are rightly rewarded for their approach.
A more recent change (2017) has been the introduction of a fourth set of tee boxes. Having Black, Blue, White and Red to choose from helps match the length of the course more suitably to one's handicap.
Tip: If staying at the ultra-luxiurious The Lodge at Kinloch, take an afternoon time in the summer. Casual golfers will most likely be off of the course in the morning, the sun will not set until late in the evening and you will find it all to yourself much of the time. The long summer light, nearby birds and beautiful scenery will really add to the experience.
3rd: Visually the most stunning hole on the front nine. This 185 yard par-3 begins with an elevated tee and a shot
over a water hazard (a small lake), with lightning fast greens this hole is both scenic
and a true challenge. Lake Taupo is seen in the distance.
4th: Club professional Tom Long's favorite hole, the 4th plays anywhere from 427 yards to almost 500 yards (depending on the tees). This dogleg par-4 has shallow fairway traps down the left side for overcooked tee shots. If bombed too far one is left with a downhill lie for the approach. It's a strategic hole and one will find best played the second time they see it.
10th: Another elevated tee which provides a great view of the lake.
5th: This par-4 sweeps uphill and to the left, and is complete with natural bunkers on the both sides of the fairway. Many are surprised to find that a lot of the course was moved by man in order to create a links feel rather than allow the terrain to dictate the balance of play. The fifth is a perfect example of that design sculpting.
18th: Considered by some as the finest hole to end a round
in the country, this 565 yard par-5 is surprisingly one of the most
approachable on the course- leaving players with a good feeling and
allowing them to forget about any balls lost throughout the day. The
landing zone off of the tee box is to the left and then the fairway
moves to the right prior to coming back around to a green protected by
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If you find a golf course such as this, which has quote a bit in it, it's probably far more fun to play short rather than long. The only reason those gorilla tees are back there is for these young guys. But most people who play should play the golf course on the short side. It's meant to be a a sporty-type golf course, a fun course. Don't go back and ruin your day by playing the course too long.
- Jack Nicklaus
I can honestly say this is the number one golf course in New Zealand. For those unable to play the great links courses of Scotland, Kinloch compares with the best of them. A true links experience with Jack Nicklaus at his best.
-Sir Bob Charles after his 1st round