Hokitika Golf Club
Hokitika Golf Club is routed snuggly between the Tasman Sea to the west, and the Glacier Highway, the incredible State Highway 6 to the east on New Zealand’s South Island. We were excited to play here because many people had told us that it is an unforgettable golf course! We often ask locals at the courses we play where we should go next. And Hokitika came very highly recommended by both Nelson Golf Club as well as Westport Golf Club..
Pulling our campervan Lorna into the car park, we were surprised to find 3 other cars there. Surprised because the last couple of golf courses that we had played, we were completely alone. But the cars belonged to the only 3 other players on the course for the day. As we approached the empty clubhouse, one of the players greeted us with a cheerful ‘Hiya’ from the fifteenth tee. Learning that it was our first time here, he parted us with the most important words of the day. Red, then yellow.
That’s right, Hokitika Golf Club (no website found) is a true out and in! While the greens are not shared, our new friend mentioned that it can be easy to get lost on the golf course. Just remember to play the red flags first and then the yellow, consult the map on the scorecard, and to have fun was his advice.
Hokitika plays to par 71 and measures 6047-yards from the Men’s tees and 5283 from the Ladies tees. We placed our 25 NZD (14,22 Euro, 16.10 USD) into the honesty box, had a quick study of the map, and made our way to the opening tee.
Check Your Map
The first time that you may need to consult your map is to find Hope, the 144-yard par 3 fourth. Departing the third green, you may be tempted to tee off on eleven until you remember “red then yellow”!
Hope plays slightly perpendicular, rather than parallel to the ocean, which is a brief directional change to the true out. We both hit well struck balls that found the green off the tee, but Menekse frustratingly walked away with a three-putt.
At only 330-yards, the short par 4 fifth hole Ruatuapu has dunes on both sides that act as a funnel. Pushing it slightly left, my ball rolled back into the side of the fairway leaving just a short iron in.
Cranston, the 524-yard par 5 sixth, has a big inviting target of a fairway. Inevitably, of course, that meant that I pulled my tee shot well left. Walking up, we thought we lost it, until we realized that we had probably walked too far. Dreading the thought of a long walk back to the tee, luckily Menekse found it just left of the fairway!
Westward Ho! is the only out hole that runs truly perpendicular to the ocean, all others being parallel or nearly parallel. An elevated tee ensures the 154-yard par three seventh hole plays slightly downhill. Once here, you have reached the furthest hole on the course. Putting out, you begin your journey back.
Our favourite hole on the out nine was Seaside, the 348-yard par 4 ninth. Luckily there is more room left than it looks like off the tee as I again pulled another tee shot. Menekse drove down the right side which left her with an uneven lie for her second shot. Keeping her head down, she made solid contact with her three-wood on her way to another net par.
According to Mr George Peper and Mr Malcolm Campbell, authors of one of our favourite golf book True Links, there are only 246 true links golf courses in the world. And Hokitika Golf Club is one of nine true links golf courses of New Zealand!
As any links player can relate to, we began playing in relatively calm winds that changed in the middle of our round. Our refreshing warm gentle breeze was replaced by a cold wind, which to be honest, made us relieved to finish the Home hole.
Many of the fairways at Hokitika were crumbled in nature with beautiful mounds and hallows everywhere, which lead to few if any truly flat lies. In sharp contrast however, most of the greens were flat and level.
And, being an almost true out and in golf course made it almost difficult to miss a fairway. Ok, so it might not have been our fairway, but we’ll take a fairway hit! But with the out playing inland from the in, Hokitika favours a missed push rather than a missed pull.
Pagoda, the 126-yard par 3 tenth, was a spectacular golf hole! If we could, we would move the tee box back about 5 yards, which would place your right foot in the beach of the Tasman Sea. With faint views of Mt Cook in the distance, Menekse pushed her trusty 3 wood a little right, while I found the left side of the green. Be sure to check your map before walking off the green to ensure you find the eleventh.
Running parallel to the ocean, Hillcocks, the number two handicap hole on the course, is the 408-yard par 4 twelfth. As we approached the tee, a sudden cold wind appeared from behind and stripped us of the warmth we felt just a few holes earlier. With the ocean left, I picked a target well right of the fairway to ensure my archenemy, the dreaded Captain Hook wouldn’t hurt me. With no trouble up the right side, I had a clear approach shot into the smallish green.
Last of the direct seaside holes, Thompsons Corner is the 361-yard par 4 fourteenth. There are 2 unique qualities that make this hole memorable. First was the bunker fronting the green that nearly bisects the kidney-shaped green. For some reason it reminded us of the famous sixth hole at Riviera Country Club. And second, with the green directly at the clubhouse, it feels like the home hole. But don’t get too comfortable, because you still have more golf to play.
The Final Four
After playing the last 4 holes with the wind, and checking the map once more, 15 turned us around and took us into the teeth of the wind. With no water that we found, the 318-yard par 4 is mysteriously named Creek. Menekse sunk a 15-footer to make four, while I missed my 10-footer high and had to settle for bogey five.
Ridge is the fantastic 180-yard par 3 seventeenth. Once again with the strong downwind, I hit a 7-iron two clubs long and left of the green! Only 2 over par for the day, I was determined to grind out a par. Leaving my chip shot about 6-feet short, I took a good look at the putt and rolled it in for three. The thrill of the chase was alive!
Home, the straight away short par 5 eighteenth begs you to absolutely rip a tee shot, which is what I did. Over-swinging, I pushed it right, into the middle of the fifteenth fairway. Menekse meanwhile continued her string of well-played holes with another solid tee shot finding the middle of the fairway. With only an 8-iron into Home, I frustratingly made par.
Even in tougher elements, we both played better coming in then we did going out. Menekse played the final four holes 4 over par and shot an impressive 49 on the back. Hokitika Golf Club is scary for a player like me that tends to pull the ball. Safety can be found in pushing the ball as most holes had fairways right, but trouble left.
Hokitika Golf Club is an absolute blast to play. Just be sure to check your map a few times during your round. And don’t forget- it’s red then yellow!