Chisholm Links Golf Club
After traveling for nearly 3 months throughout New Zealand in our campervan, we made it to our final golf course, Chisholm Links Golf Club. When we were checking in, Mr. Allan Court, the friendly Head Professional told us about a secret tee on the eleventh hole. Rather than following the signs to the right off the tenth green, he advised us to walk up a narrow path on the left side. A secret tee box? We knew that we had to play from there.
True Links Golf Course
It really didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the golf course. It was probably on Khyber Pass, the 375-yard straightaway par 4 fifth hole that oozes links-style golf, where we were first smitten. A slight downhill tee shot seems to bring the dunes on both sides of the fairway into play. Split the dunes that frame the fairway to leave the best approach to the uphill green. Or, miss it out to the right like I did and have a blind shot in!
According to Mr. George Peper and Mr. Malcolm Campbell, authors of our favorite golf books True Links, Chisholm Links is one of only 246 authentic links golf courses in the world. And, we made it our goal to play all nine of the True Links Golf Courses of New Zealand!
Tomahawk, the 497-yard par 5 eighth plays a lot longer than the stated yardage. With an uphill dogleg left tee shot that was into the wind, I aimed up the middle, made a solid strike, and finished center cut.
A few steps after our blind second shots, we were rewarded with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and the picturesque white sands of Tomahawk Beach below. Able to keep our minds from being distracted by the view, we both walked off Tomahawk smiling. Menekse lagged a long putt close for a net birdie, and I made my first birdie of the day!
A Couple of the Greatest Golf Holes That We’ve Ever Played
Walking off Tomahawk, we weren’t prepared for the astonishing set of golf holes that we were about to play. A slightly uphill dogleg left par 4, with the Pacific on never-ending display to your left, Lawyers Head is the jaw-dropping 443-yard ninth at Chisholm Links. Without a clear view of the green from the tee, I held my breath and aimed at the tenth tee, which in hindsight was the perfect target. It started out well right of my target before slowly coming back. With a slight draw, it settled on the right edge of the fairway, and I could once again exhale.
With a breeze blowing behind her, Menekse aimed out to the right and followed my lead. The smile on her face after her perfectly executed shot made me so proud!
With a sense of excitement, we walked up the fairway and saw the green well before we could see the flag. The flag was so far left on the green, it seemed to be hanging onto land for dear life. Scared, but hopeful, I hit 9 iron to the back left of the green. Menekse’s approach shot landed short, but she hit a good pitch shot that continued to roll to the back of the green. Certain that her putt would break towards the ocean, it didn’t move as much as we anticipated. With another birdie opportunity, and nearly from the same lie, I played less break. I had the right line but committed the ultimate sin and left it short!
Can You Keep a Secret
After putting out on ten, we found the path that Allan had told us about that leads to the hidden tee. Named Downhill, the eleventh is a 524-yard par 5 that plays straight from the “usual” tees but is a dogleg left from the secret tee. Reaching the top, I found the wonderful small tee box. With the ocean to your left, and seemingly nothing in front of you but a landing spot that looks like a tiny V, it is easy to stand there and have no idea what to do.
Allan had said that the target is a white marker located on the far side of the fairway in the middle left of the V. He said that some players aim at the seventh green, which is quite a way left of the marker. Unsure if I dare take that much off the dogleg, I took dead aim at the marker and turned it over to the left just slightly. I couldn’t see it land, but it was hit on target and it felt awesome! While here, be sure to take a moment to breathe in the ocean views.
Finding the Fairway
By the time I made it back to the fairway, Menekse had teed off and was waiting for me next to her ball in the middle. Still unable to see my ball, I walked anxiously until we found it on the left side of the fairway.
There are three devilish bunkers that stand guard short left of the green. From the fairway, they look closer than they are, so make sure your second shot avoids these treacherous traps. I hit a hybrid in, knowing that it would keep me safe from the bunkers. From there I almost chipped in and left myself a tap in birdie. Menekse navigated the hole just as well, never once straying from the fairway. Her approach landed on the front of green leaving her an easy 2 putt. Together, we played Downhill a net 2 under par!
Just don’t tell anyone about the tee- it will be our secret!
The Downs is the straightaway 436-yard par 4 twelfth that doesn’t offer the views as the previous holes. But it is not the place to relax because it is the hardest-rated hole on the golf course. With the wind behind us, we both played the hole extremely well.
By the time we made it to Sherriffs, the 199-yard par 3 fourteenth, we were both feeling a little exhausted. It wasn’t an overly windy day, but there was enough wind to get us both tired. Menekse found some very gnarly rough left of the green but hit an exceptional escape shot out. Her shot landed just short, but she was able to get up and down for four. After seeing her lie, if someone would have given you a four, anybody would have taken it!
We both really enjoyed St Kilda, the 556-yard par 5 fifteenth. With city views from the tee, the fairway bends a little left, then a little right, and finally a little left again. The pot bunkers on the hole remind you that you are playing a true links golf course.
Golf is Sweet as, Bru
Traveling to New Zealand, we heard a phrase that we didn’t understand at first but got acquainted with quickly; sweet as. It is used when something is particularly awesome. For example, today’s surf was sweet as, bru. At first, we keep waiting for an ending to the phrase- sweet as what? But after a while, we understood that the ending was left blank intentionally, and it just meant awesome!
With a fantastic variety of holes, a memorable mixture of short and long par fours, and a nice diversity of par threes, I hit every club in my bag. The greens were in great condition, and even in a very wet spring, the course played dry and true. We absolutely loved the golf course and it was easily the most underrated course that we played.
So next time you see Menekse and me and ask us how the golf in New Zealand was, and we reply, “the golf is sweet as”, you’ll know exactly what we mean. That it is as sweet as Chisholm Links Golf Club- awesome!