Lochiel and The Narrows, separated by only a handful of kilometres at Tamahere near Hamilton Airport, operated independently for decades until it was suggested they merge, which they did in 2010. They now function successfully as the Riverside Golf Club, Waikato’s only 36-hole golf operation.
Lochiel, which dates from 1939, is a true championship course bordered by the mighty Waikato River and Mystery Creek. Practically every national event has been held here at some stage. It’s an attractive natural-style course providing a good test for players of all levels. It is blessed with free-draining soils, meaning it remains in good condition through the worst weather. Because the course plays over old riverbeds, it has sharply defined ridges and valleys. It is anything but boring. The par-4 fourth is the No 1 stroke hole with river on the left and trees on the right, leading to an elevated green. The river is 10 metres to the left of the green where only serious hooks end up. The Narrows – so named not because the course is literally narrow but because Maori tribes originally occupied the land, being the narrowest point of the Waikato River – is shorter than Lochiel but arguably more difficult. Especially challenging, and the most talkedabout hole, is the par-3 18th where you play from an elevated tee to an elevated green. It’s only 111 metres from the white boxes but with the green about the size of a small table top, it’s not easy finding it. Par (Lochiel) 72 (6025m); (The Narrows) 72 (5827m). Green fees (both courses) $30 (affiliated), $40 (unaffiliated).
Lochiel Road, Tamahere, (07) 843 6287, riversidegolf.co.nz