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Grant Saunders

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Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« on: April 26, 2008, 05:51:53 PM »
On Wednesday of the previous week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Ash Towe and his wife Chris and playing the Arrowtown Golf Course. We were presented with perfect weather and some of the most amazing seasonal colour changes I have ever witnessed. This coupled with great company and thought provoking discussion led to one of the most enjoyable games I have had in a very long time.

The Arrowtown course is situated approx 20 kms from Queenstown and is nestled in at the base of the Crown Ranges. At a total of par 70 and 5409 metres(approx 5950 yds) it is never going to be touted as a championship venue but what it lacks in length it makes up for in fun and overall enjoyment.  Many of the holes wind through rock valleys and it possesses some of the most natural green sites you may ever come across. With a greenfee of NZ $30 ($23 US or 11.30 GBP) it surely is one of the best value for money courses in the country.

The course engages you from the minute you stand on the 1st tee. When you see the downhill par 3 with part of the green obscured by a large rolling landform you realise that this place is a little different. For me the highlights include the 2nd shot to the 3rd green, the tee shot from the 7th tee, the tee shot on 9, the par 3 14th, the par 3 16th and just simply standing on the 18th tee. I would rate the course as having the most fun set of par 3's I have ever played. The fast and firm conditions lend themselves to all types of shots and really challenge the player to think their way around.

One of the things that fascinated me about the course was the fact that it took me a good few hours after playing to realise two things.
1:  The course has no bunkers
2:  The course has 5 par 3's

I put this down to the fact that I was so caught up in how much fun the course was to play and how I looked forward to the next hole every time. Had it not been for the fact that I had work that afternoon, I would have walked off the 18th and straight onto the 1st tee again for another game. The last time I enjoyed a course that much was when I played Royal Dornoch.

I look forward to heaing Ash add his thoughts to this thread and I urge people thinking of coming to NZ to play golf to consider factoring this course into the trip.


1st hole par 3 162 metres


2nd tee par 5 501 metres


2nd green


3rd hole par 4 310 metres


3rd green


4th tee par 4 324 metres


4th green


5th hole par 4 337 metres


6th hole par 3 133 metres


7th hole par 4 299 metres


8th green par 4 288 metres


9th hole par 4 290 metres


10th green par 5 416 metres


11th hole par 4 360 metres


11th green


12th hole par 3 156 metres


13th hole par 5 459 metres


14th hole par 3 187 metres


15th hole par 4 375 metres


16th hole par 3 139 metres


18th hole par 4 324 metres
« Last Edit: April 26, 2008, 06:39:51 PM by Grant Saunders »

Tom_Doak

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2008, 05:55:55 PM »
Grant:

I rode past Arrowtown years ago while going to look at a different piece of property with Julian Robertson, and it sure looked cool from the road ... but we didn't have time to stop.  Always wondered whether it was as good as it looked, so I'm glad to see your report.  Maybe one of these years I'll get a chance to go back and play.

Sean_A

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2008, 06:56:20 PM »
Grant

Wow!  What a cool looking course.  It is so refreshing to see a course where the land does all the talking.  I want to play this course!  Thanks for posting Grant - it was most enjoyable.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Winterfield & Alnmouth

Mike Erdmann

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2008, 07:36:26 PM »
Grant, thanks for sharing those photos.  Like Tom, I've driven by on a number of occassions while in the Queenstown area wondering if it is as cool as it looks from the car.  Does it play as firm as it looks?  Looks like a much better option than Kelvin Heights!

Grant Saunders

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2008, 07:45:44 PM »
Mike

It does indeed play firm and fast and the parts you can see form the road are only a hint at how good it is. I have not played Kelvin Heights but from what I have seen of it I would pick Arrowtown over it any day of the week. I would also play there ahead of Jacks Point. At $410 NZ for a yearly membership, I am considering joining which would be the first time in 10 years that I have actively joined a club.

Ash Towe

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2008, 09:36:06 PM »
It was great to meet up with Grant at this excellent course.  There are not many opportunities to meet up with other GCA'ers in this part of the world.
The day we played the weather was perfect.  Crystal clear, cool temperatures and surrounding scenery that has to be seen to be believed.
As Grant mentioned Arrowtown is not championship length  but it was about as much fun as I have had on a golf course.  It played firm and fast as did the greens.  After talking with Grant, one of its appeals is the way so many of the holes are framed by the hills and rocky outcrops.  It makes it easy to pick a line, especially from the tees and gives a good perspective when trying to judge distance to the greens.
You have the choice on many holes of whether to use the driver.  If you are accurate you can create many birdy chances.  If you miss the intended line you will run into problems, not rough but rocky outcrops and other natural hazards.  This is one of its great attractions.
The greensites are small but fit into the surroundings.  The greens have a reasonable amount of slope in them and you have to choose the speed of putts carefully.  The surronds of the greens are quite closely mown and you can be left with some tricky recovery shots if you miss the intended target.
If you are in this part of the world this course would be top of the list to visit.  Jacks Point will be open to the public at the end of the year.  This is a very spectacular course and well worth playing.  Also in the area are Millbrook and the Queenstown Golf Club (Kelvin Heights).
There are many other attractions in the area, especially adventure based activities and wine tasting but golf might be the latest reason to visit this amazing part of New Zealand

Jeffrey Prest

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2008, 08:09:33 AM »
Fantastic images, Grant. Thanks for posting.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2008, 08:46:46 AM »
Grant:

From looking at the photos of your favorite shots, I suspect you hit a draw.  Some of those holes are frightening for my left-to-right game -- the 14th hole in particular!

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2008, 09:27:56 AM »
Nice pics and great course, reminds me a bit of Boat of Garten in places.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Lance Rieber

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2008, 09:38:36 AM »
Grant,
Thanks for the picture, looks like a lot of fun.  What beautiful scenery.
Lance

Grant Saunders

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2008, 02:38:34 PM »
Tom

I do indeed hit a draw although it more often than not manifests itself into a vicious hook. The catch is that I do it from the other side of the ball to you being that I am a lefty.

 As for the shots I enjoyed, it was more to do with how they are presented to the player in terms of interest, scale and fitting into the landscape. To watch a golf ball travel off the 7th tee and to have the mountain behind the ball throughout its entire flight was really quite something to behold. I cant think of many holes I have played where the ball doesn't pass above the horizon line at some point. I could stand there and watch the tee shots all day.

ed_getka

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2008, 07:18:32 PM »
Thanks for the pix.

Ash,
   NOW you tell me about this course. ;D You were holding out on me. I'm glad to hear you had a great trip down there and this course will be on the itinerary for the next time.
"Perimeter-weighted fairways", The best euphemism for containment mounding I've ever heard.

Ash Towe

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2008, 03:09:09 AM »
Ed,
I was told this course was good but I never realised it was that good.
It is not just a hidden gem but actually deserves to be on any list of the best courses in the country.
I also have a couple of other ideas that will be of interest when we have the pleasure of your company and hopefully Cathys.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2014, 04:29:39 AM »
I played Arrowtown by myself this afternoon.  It's amazing. 

Due to congestion, I played the back nine first, and I thought it was pretty good -- but the front nine was just one great hole after another, with the short par-4 3rd and 7th (as well as the 18th) contenders for anyone's eclectic eighteen.

It also puts to rest the question of whether you can build a great course without bunkers.  I did not see a single place where a bunker would have added to the course.  The greens are defended by knobs, rock outcroppings, trees, drop-offs, and by the fact they're generally on the small side.  The fairways are defended just as well; being straight as an arrow from the tee would be a huge advantage here.

The various rankings of N.Z. courses have this course somewhere between 12th and 19th in the country.  They must be completely biased against the course because of its length.  Hole for hole there can't be five courses in N.Z. that are as good as this. 

Mike_Clayton

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 05:23:11 AM »
Tom,

I'm glad you went there and thought it was as much fun as I did. I walked it four years ago and have been telling people to go there ever since. They all want to play the better known courses in the area but there are no holes in the world like those beauties on Arrowtown's front nine.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2014, 05:34:36 AM »
I would love to play this course. The way the holes seem to have been set out on top of the wonderfully flowing land rather than the land moved to make the course. And so much more natural without sand bunkers.

Out of curiosity, what Doak scale rating would it get?

atb

David_Elvins

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2014, 07:04:56 AM »
Tom,

I agree with most of your thoughts however I  do think the narrowness of the 2nd hole is ridiculous. 

One hole that particularly interested me was the par 3 16th.

The two mounds with the small angled and crowned green seemed like a brilliant way to create interest on flat land. 

Have you or anyone else seen this type of hole before?  If not, is the concept worthy of replication?
Ask not what GolfClubAtlas can do for you; ask what you can do for GolfClubAtlas.

BCowan

Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2014, 07:47:55 AM »
Wow, thanks for posting those photos Grant.  I know it was 5 years ago.  It kinda reminds me of the Pit in Pinehurst without bunkers?  It has been 18 years since I played the Pit and I could be way off, so don't burn me to the stake.  Boy would I love to live in NZ. 

Ash Towe

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2014, 01:18:15 PM »
Tom,

Glad you enjoyed Arrowtown so much.  I agree with you when you say because it is not a championship length course it does not receive the kudos it deserves.  It is one of the most fun courses I have played and can be enjoyed for the princely sum of around $40.  It is so beautiful there at the moment with the autmn colours being so vibrant.

If people visit the area, Arrowton should be at the top of their must play list.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2014, 02:35:22 PM »
I would love to play this course. The way the holes seem to have been set out on top of the wonderfully flowing land rather than the land moved to make the course. And so much more natural without sand bunkers.

Out of curiosity, what Doak scale rating would it get?

Thomas:

I try not to put a rating onto courses for a month or so after I've seen them, to see what I remember of them (and also so I can make some comparisons to others I've already rated).  If I had to do it this minute, I would give the course a 7.  My wife heard this number and thought it wasn't that great ... she doesn't understand the Doak scale  :)

BCowan

Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2014, 10:05:50 PM »
Tom

   Does the course have as many nuances as the photos show, if not more?  This course is so cool, a man would have to travel the whole US to find something half as cool.  Man, I would love to live in NZ!

Grant Saunders

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2014, 12:19:45 AM »
I played Arrowtown by myself this afternoon.  It's amazing.  

Due to congestion, I played the back nine first, and I thought it was pretty good -- but the front nine was just one great hole after another, with the short par-4 3rd and 7th (as well as the 18th) contenders for anyone's eclectic eighteen.

It also puts to rest the question of whether you can build a great course without bunkers.  I did not see a single place where a bunker would have added to the course.  The greens are defended by knobs, rock outcroppings, trees, drop-offs, and by the fact they're generally on the small side.  The fairways are defended just as well; being straight as an arrow from the tee would be a huge advantage here.

The various rankings of N.Z. courses have this course somewhere between 12th and 19th in the country.  They must be completely biased against the course because of its length.  Hole for hole there can't be five courses in N.Z. that are as good as this.  

Tom

Good to hear you got to see Arrowtown.

Did you see or come across anything that you would try and use on another site? You said the 3rd hole is a highlight (it is a great hole) but would you try and recreate that green given a chance? I think there is probably about 3 pin placements on it. I guess these things work where the number of rounds per year isn't huge.

Here it is form another angle.


Tom_Doak

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2014, 01:42:07 AM »
Grant:

You never know where you'll find a place to use an idea you've gathered elsewhere.

I did love the 3rd green, and am glad I played the course so that it could get the better of me in person.  I hit a good drive safely up the right, which means you've got to come in over the little knob at the front, not up the valley from the left as shown in your last photo.  It was playing downwind, so my approach landed pin high [flag near where it is in your picture] and went up to the back of the green ... leaving me with a HUGE breaking putt that would inevitably run 5 feet past.  You really have to drive it up the left side there so the angle of approach will go straight up the slot of the green, if you're going to have a chance at a putt from behind the hole; not sure I would have noticed that if I hadn't seen it in action.  Great stuff!


RJ_Daley

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2014, 05:37:49 AM »
Yikes, not only Saltzy is bumming around these parts, TD is tramping the territory as well!!

I explained to Grant on IM that my golf is over for this trip.  I would have risked divorce and exhausion had I been able to catch up with TD to play a venue like GRant and Ashe describe here, with them.   ;) ;D

But descretion is the better part of valor, and it will have to be left for another time...

I'll get ahold of you back home TD personally, for a proper thanks for your assists!

No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Scott Macpherson

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Re: Arrowtown Golf Course NZ - An Absolute Hidden Gem
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2014, 09:39:01 AM »
I am a fan of the course, but it might be time to admit to some self interest. Greg Turner, myself and a New Zealand golf course construction company called TIC redesigned the 9th green a couple of years ago. Grant was the lead shaper. We were all delighted that we had the chance to help the club build a new green, as each of us had been captivated by this course which breaks many of the 'rules' of golf course design yet is a invigorating, attractive and an immensely interesting place to play.

Here are a couple of photos of the green we built. It is close to the clubhouse and the practice putting green is behind it. The aim was to create a visual corridor through to the clubhouse from the fairway. Strategically, we left a small nose of rock extending out in front of the green on the right front corner of the green so players who hit down the left side of the fairway had a straight shot into the green. Those who hit out to right, and safer side of the fairway  (away from the steep bank that runs along the left side of the fairway), would have to play over this small rocky nose. I wonder if the hole plays that way today? Last time I was there, the fairway needed to be mown further left so golfers could get the best angle into the green.

Grant have you been there recently?

View from the left side of the fairway, and the new ideal line into the new green (NOTEľ this photo was taken during the crow-in and the flag you can see is the old green. The new green is to the left and in line with the clubhouse)


View from the front of the green


The view from behind the green (looking back down the fairway)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 12:26:53 PM by Scott Macpherson »

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