In 2014 two neighbouring golf clubs near Hamilton on New Zealand's north island amalgamated- the Lochiel GC and The Narrows GC.
Not long afterward a new highway was scheduled to run through The Narrows course.
The compensation funds received were used to build a high quality course for the amalgamated club..
The new development, known as Tieke Golf Estate, was designedby the partnership of Brett Thomson (Jack’s Point) and Phil Tataurangi (former USPGA player), and opened for play in 2022.
Thomson and Tataurangi started with a heavily treed river valley/parkland site and created a unique golfing landscape that bore little resemblance to the original property.
The premise of stripping back the land surface to access ancient river soils as a feature of the course sets Tieke aside from any other golf course in New Zealand for both looks and style.
Exposed sand and gravel is a dominant and recurring landscape feature and nicely compliments the beautifully maintained playing surfaces.
The new course is challenging, yet playable.
Certainly the membership love the new course- when we visited the course was fully booked from dawn to dusk..
My only qualms about the course are minor and largely aesthetic:
- I thought the exposed sandy gravel waste areas which so much dictate the look of the courses were just a tad untidy. They are used extensively by golfers and maintenance vehicles and the criss cross of tracks was a little messy and overdone..A similar system of using waste bunkers for carts and machinery works quite well at Sawgrass, but admittedly they run parallel to play and rarely bother the line of sight
- Another drawback in my opinion relates to the adjacent fairways through a small number of holes in the middle of the property. These holes are separated by raised banks along their perimeters. I thought they looked too uniform and a tad artificial, and detracted from the natural feel of the course. It may be that these mounds are necessary for safety purposes to separate the holes, or that trees and shrubs will be added in time to break up the uniformity currently displayed.
- presumably vegetation on the property border will in time grow and block out the shiny white event centre next door!
However it must be stressed that Tieke is a quality course that will only improve as it beds in, and hopefully some of these minor concerns are overcome..
Players will benefit from multiple plays of Tieke as there are a number of holes where either the tee shot or approach is partially blind.
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, a longer but very playable par 4. Two solid shots, no tricks!
- hole 5, a challenging par with a long waste area right and pine tree left off the tee. It's a partially blind hole with a dip running diagonally across the fairway.
- hole 7, a mid length par 3 over the waste area to a plateau green. It is all carry!( see pic mid page)
- hole 10, a driveable par 4 with water in play left and a strategically placed tree right.
- hole 11, an impressive par 4 adjacent to the river.
- hole 12, an even more impressive par 5 running parallel to the river and with sand to carry off the tee and a fairly dramatic green.
- hole 13, a short downhill par 3 to a small green with a river backdrop
In my opinion Tieke is a very good strategic design with immaculate playing surfaces and a distinct look and feel which will only improve as it matures.
Tieke should aspire to a New Zealand top 10 rating.
I hope to return in the next 18 months to see how it settles in..
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