Gulf Harbour Country Club is set along the coastline of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Auckland. It is a reciprocal club to The Heritage in Melbourne which provides a benefit of reduced green fees. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and the Club has hosted two New Zealand Opens.
I thought the course was very good but needs to be played outside of the wetter months. I was surprised how wet the course was with the front nine in particular having fairly sloppy conditions. You can hit your best drive of the day to your maximum distance only to see it hop about a half metre out of its plug hole. An extra 30-40 metres on your drive with some run in dry conditions is needed to make the holes more achievable in par.
Opening hole, stay right with your drive to give you the best approach shot to the green
The front nine winds its way amongst a housing estate. The first six holes head out some distance through the estate in a loop with several road crossings along the way between green and tee. The final three holes of the nine finish with a pretty circuit around a lake. Watch out for your slice as all three holes have water on the right. On the 9th, your drive must carry a good distance over the lake with the more you take on, the more reward you get!
7th hole geese observing the right hand slicer's nightmare tee shot
The back nine opens with a friendly par 4, easy to achieve if the flag is at the front of the green. Large bunkers hug the right side of the gentle right-hand dog-leg fairway.
The 11th introduces you to some of the undulating terrain of the back nine. A dog-leg left par 5 has water down the left-side ready for any happy hookers! The 12th has a lovely elevated tee looking out to sea with with glimpses of downtown Auckland on the horizon.
12th hole with great views towards Auckland City about 40km away
The 15th heads out towards the ocean before the course heads along the cliff tops to the 16th tee, my favourite hole on the course. The hole deserves its #1 rating - a right-hand dog-leg 394m par 4 that is a true risk/reward hole. Long hitters will take on the 200m+ carry to get a shorter second shot. Moderate drivers must decide whether taking on some of the corner is worthwhile. I did and just made it, thus saving at least 50m on the next shot. A long second shot will still leave you short of the green, chip on, two putt, walk away happy with a bogey on this dramatic hole.
The 16th hole defines risk v reward golf
The 17th also has nice views across the ocean before the 18th takes you back to the clubhouse with a manageable par 4.
The member's blue tees have a length of 5,907 metres and a slope rating of 128. A golf cart is a good idea at Gulf Harbour as a number of holes have long walks from green to tee.
I look forward to the next time I’m in Auckland when hopefully it will be Summer so I can have another crack at this picturesque course.
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