I had heard there was a new course called Kinloch near Taupo. It was designed by Jack Nicklaus and, to be honest, I have not been very impressed by the few Nicklaus courses that I have previously played. Well I am delighted to say that Kinloch was a wonderful golfing experience and I would highly recommend you play it.
I hope they succeed as they are obviously on a tight budget. None of my initial emails were answered so we just drove there initially to have a look around. The English pro there is a delightful chap. Tom Long was clearly run off his feet trying to perform a number of functions in these early days. The temporary clubhouse is lovely but when the new one is built, high above the course, it will have fabulous views across the course and Lake Taupo nearby.
Kinloch has beautiful fairways, first class greens and the numerous bunkers were very consistent with the feel and amount of sand. The practice facilities are also very good.
When you stand on the first tee it has the look of an inland links. With the rough having burnt off and thinned out due to the drought the contrast between fairways and rough was wonderful and was enhanced by the hilly backdrop behind the course proper.
I loved the par 4, 5th which sweeps uphill and to the left with natural looking bunkers lining both sides of the fairways. The only hole I disliked was the par 4, 6th where the second shot downhill is partly blind to an area of broken ground with patches of long grass and an out of bounds fence very close to the right. If you haven't played there before then you really have no idea what you are hitting into.
The lovely uphill 9th was one of several that reminded me of the Castle Course at St Andrews. On the front nine the high hills are the main backdrop but when you stand on the 10th tee there is the first of many vistas toward Lake Taupo.
The 11th and 15th were both par 3's that I really enjoyed and the par 5, 18th is a good closing hole requiring precise shots to avoid the large man made lake.
Kinloch is 6734 metres from the blue tees and should not be contemplated unless your handicap is single figures. The white tees provide for a length of just under 6000 metres which I found was a nice mix between challenge and enjoyment for an 11 handicap. The course is very playable for lady golfers - my wife Irene also really enjoyed every aspect of Kinloch.
If you are coming from Taupo then initially head north on highway 1 for about 1 km, turn left at Poihipi Rd., continue for 10 km then turn left at Whangamata Rd for 7.5 km to Kinloch Rd where the course is about another 1 km. The little village of Kinloch lies just further on and is right on the edge of Lake Taupo in a very peaceful location.
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