Go Travel New Zealand - - Contents - By Steve Khatib

I headed to Queenstown to visit some good friends in nearby Arrowtown. My Jetstar flight from Mel­bourne made the spec­tac­u­lar de­cent into Queenstown with the spring

snow-capped Re­mark­ables in full view.

Yes, I was def­i­nitely im­pressed once again with the vista that greeted me! Af­ter a cou­ple of days work and re­cre­ation I packed up my gear from my room at the his­toric New Or­leans Ho­tel and rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity to get be­hind the wheel and drive north through some of the worlds most beau­ti­ful coun­try­side.

I picked up my .................. thanks to the good folks at Euro Car Hire and took the scenic drive up to Christchurch. I had a day free to my­self and wanted see some of the South Is­land’s scenery so al­lowed my­self about seven hours for the drive past the gor­geous Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo to the Ter­race Downs Re­sort.

I was greeted by vil­las set in rolling alpine coun­try­side with wild tus­socks and Mount Hutt as a back­drop. The Ter­race Downs Re­sort is a high coun­try moun­tain treat set on the Rakia River at the foot of the South­ern Alps; it also has views that stretch across the spec­tac­u­lar Rakia Gorge. Ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude shoot­ing, archery, jet boat­ing, horse­back rid­ing, ski­ing, fish­ing and its very pop­u­lar day spa. Some of the prop­er­ties that sur­round the re­sort pro­vide res­i­dents with one of the best liv­ing en­vi­ron­ments one could pos­si­bly wish for, with views that any­one would love to wake up to on a daily ba­sis.

How­ever, I was here for the golf! Yes, Ter­race Downs is rated in the top Kiwi golf cour­ses and I couldn’t wait to play it again. I was also look­ing for­ward to a restau­rant at the re­sort that I had heard so much about; Hunters Steak House. I had cer­tainly worked up an ap­petite af­ter the drive up from Otago, so I re­ally en­joyed my rib eye steak which the waiter served me on a siz­zling hot plate. Medium rare lo­cal steak was def­i­nitely a must for a meat lover and com­pli­mented by a glass lo­cal wine I was ready to re­tire for the evening.

The next day I was greeted by fine sunny weather and crisp alpine air, as I warmed up my swing for the chal­lenge ahead. The first hole is a great par five to start with and a good drive as I so luck­ily man­aged puts you in a good po­si­tion to reach the green in two. I didn’t get home for two though; how­ever I did start with a birdie af­ter get­ting up and down from be­side the green.

The park­land front nine is quite con­trast­ing to the dramatic links style back nine. For mine it sets up the back nine where the course re­ally shows its teeth. The ar­ray of lakes, tus­socks and breath­tak­ing views of the Raikia River and gorge. There are of course many risk re­ward holes and none more than the sig­na­ture 16th hole. A short par three of no more than 110 me­tres with a pre­mium be­ing placed on keep­ing the ball low out of the breeze and of course pick­ing the right club. How­ever, as great a hole as the six­teenth is, this course is more than just one hole with many stretches of con­sec­u­tive holes that de­mand great tee shots but also re­ward them with birdie chances.

The Cham­pi­onship par 72 lay­out was in ex­cel­lently man­i­cured and pro­vides a test yet also an en­joy­able round for all stan­dards of play­ers. It is re­ally hard to be­lieve that the course is only just over ten years old, as it sits into the nat­u­ral land­scape like it al­ways be­longed; at the foothills of the Can­ter­bury Alps thou­sands of years ago.

Later that day I made the com­fort­able forty-five minute drive east to Christchurch, ‘The Gar­den City’ for my ho­tel in the city cen­tre. I was im­pressed with the amount of de­vel­op­ment that has oc­curred and the friendly lo­cals, one wouldn’t think that the lo­cals had ex­pe­ri­enced some of mother na­ture’s worst pos­si­ble chal­lenges only a few years ear­lier. I set­tled in for the night early, as I had a 7.30 tee time the next morn­ing at the his­toric Christchurch Golf Club at Shirley fif­teen min­utes north of town.

I was paired with some in­ter­est­ing mem­bers the next day, which in­formed me all about the his­tory of the se­cond old­est club in the coun­try; founded in 1873. Over more re­cent times the course has been mod­i­fied to res­tore it to its for­mer style by ar­chi­tect Peter Thomp­son. The unique fea­ture about this course I found was its first five holes prior to cross­ing the road and its clos­ing holes back to the club­house. The sub­tle un­du­la­tions in the fair­ways were a de­cep­tively chal­leng­ing el­e­ment. An ex­am­ple of this was my favourite hole the par four four­teenth, where a de­ci­sion needs to be made off the tee as to hit your drive on

the high side of the fair­way and play a longer shot into the green from a level height, or hit closer to the green and play an awk­ward up­hill ap­proach. For the record I found out the hard way that the longer way was best. Also there are tiers and false fronts on many of the greens that place a pre­mium on select­ing the cor­rect club to be hole high, or have to putt up or down hill on to the cor­rect level as the hole.

Af­ter my round I ven­tured into the club­house for a tour of the mem­o­ra­bilia do­nated by the club’s pa­tron Sir Bob Charles. Charles is New Zealand’s most fa­mous pro­fes­sional golfer and launched his highly suc­cess­ful pro ca­reer af­ter win­ning the club cham­pi­onship at the club.

Af­ter a very en­joy­able morn­ings golf I headed off to the fa­mous Ric­car­ton Park Race­course to try my luck on the gee gees.

Much lighter in the pocket af­ter a late night and a day at the races, I must say I was feel­ing a lit­tle tired the next day. Al­though the thought of play­ing at Rus­s­ley Golf Club and a strong es­presso at Vi­vace Es­presso in down­town Tuam Street got me go­ing.

Rus­s­ley is a rel­a­tively flat tree lined park­land course that has hosted many big pro­fes­sional events of the years in­clud­ing the New Zealand Open. Cou­pled by its prox­im­ity to the air­port, re­laxed at­mos­phere and easy go­ing mem­bers it has a strong ap­peal to golfers of all lev­els. From a golf course lay­out per­spec­tive I re­ally en­joyed the par five sixth and par three sev­enth holes that re­quire a pre­cise ap­proach shot to be played into large un­du­lat­ing greens or find wa­ter haz­ards wait­ing to gob­ble up your ball. I did man­age to avoid the drink and par both these holes.

I found the course to be very well main­tained with firm, true putting sur­faces and re­ally en­joyed this fun golf course.

For my last night in the land of the long white cloud I checked into The Pep­pers Clear­wa­ter Re­sort. Do­ing it in style at Clear­wa­ter was a great way to end my trip, as I had mag­nif­i­cent ac­com­mo­da­tion right on the course. So, af­ter a lovely meal at The Lakes Restau­rant I was ready to tackle the course the next day.

With eigh­teen holes ahead of me, I was glad I stayed at Clear­wa­ter, be­ing only five min­utes from the air­port to catch my af­ter­noon flight back home.

The lay­out has streams that flow into seven lakes lo­cated through­out the course; hence it’s the ‘Clear­wa­ter’. A gen­tle start to the course didn’t last long with the par four third be­ing a gem of a short par four hole. Bunkers right and left re­quired me to lay up with a hy­brid off the tee, and then an ac­cu­rate high short iron ap­proach is re­quired to an un­du­lat­ing green. I man­aged to achieve all this un­til un­did all my good work by tak­ing three putts on

the green.

The ninth is a de­mand­ing par three that brings you back to the club­house. I needed to hit a solid four iron and avoid the wa­ter in front of and to the right of the green. I was ex­tremely happy with par as I went qui­etly to the back nine.

The back nine can be summed up in a word. Tough. It has wa­ter on al­most ev­ery hole, so if you are not driv­ing it straight: look out! This is an ex­am­ple of a pre­mium fin­ish­ing hole, it has bunkers right and wa­ter left in­tim­i­dat­ing the golfer vis­ually off the tee.

The green has two lev­els, which makes putting tricky as well; so a par here is a great score. Many of the New Zealand Opens and other ma­jor events have been de­cided by drama on this hole.

Steve Khatib founder of Golf Dy­nam­ics is an in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected au­thor­ity on all mat­ters golf, ow­ing to his af­fil­i­a­tions through many years spent with the worlds lead­ing golf minds in the USA. Steve presents sev­eral pop­u­lar ra­dio and tele­vi­sion pro­grams through­out Aus­tralia and has been awarded PGA Teacher of the Year, PGA AAA Spe­cialiast Coach and Master Club­fit­ter ac­cred­i­ta­tions.

Clear­wa­ter was by far my most chal­leng­ing Can­ter­bury course and my three over par 75 felt like a two un­der par 70.

With my Can­ter­bury cru­sade com­plete, I made the short trip to the air­port to catch my Jetstar flight home di­rect to Mel­bourne, feel­ing in­spired and sat­is­fied with an­other unique Kiwi golf ex­pe­ri­ence and thor­oughly rec­om­mend Can­ter­bury for great golf cour­ses, spec­tac­u­lar scenery and friendly peo­ple.

16th Ter­race Downs

5th Rus­s­ley

Christchurch golf club

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