Invercargill Golf Club
Located in the Southlands of New Zealand, Invercargill Golf Club is a true shot-makers golf course, with a long and impressive history. Mr. Gene Sarazan played here back in 1934, and his signed scorecard hangs in the clubhouse. He shot an impressive 71, but reports said that “a lack of local knowledge cost him three or four strokes.” New Zealand is a commitment to get to today- imagine the effort required back in 1934! While here, Mr. Sarazan drove down the road to Oreti Sands Golf Club, to “satisfy his ambition to have driven a ball further south than any other American professional!”
Invercargill Golf Club also hosted the New Zealand Open Championship in 1960, won by the legendary Mr. Peter Thomson. There are many pictures and articles dated to his victory proudly displayed in the impressive clubhouse.
Invercargill plays 6601-yards to a par of 72 from the Men’s tees and measures a lengthy 6154-yards, par 74 from the Women’s tees. We were eager to play a golf course that has played host to so many of the game’s greats!
Out at Invercargill Golf Club
With grey skies above, and darker clouds looming ominously on the horizon, we found our way to Nest, the first. At only 317-yards, it is the shortest par 4 on the course. Both Menekse and I confidently found the fairway off the tee and were in eager spirits, despite the precarious weather. We were so excited to play New Zealand’s southernmost 18-hole golf course!
You won’t be able to see the green from the tee on Rushes, the outstanding 440-yard par 4 third hole, but it is out there. The perfect play off the tee of this long slightly dogleg left hole is to shape a shot down the left side. I hit a well-struck tee shot that stayed down the right side of the fairway but thankfully found the short grass. As we watched it land, we wondered, what was that? Was that a little bit of fairway roll? With all the rain we had experienced throughout our New Zealand golf travels, this was a pleasant surprise! Even with the overnight rain, the sand-based fairways were still dry underfoot. A flush 6 iron found the right side of the green, and I was proud to walk off Rushes with a 2-putt par.
There is something simply studious about Schoolhouse, the 152-yard par 3 fourth hole. Protected by brilliant bunkers that frame both sides of the green, Menekse found the front of the green with her 5-wood off the tee. With Menekse a mere 10 feet short of the flag, and I 8 feet left, we both had birdy opportunities. Unfortunately, however, neither one of us received high marks in class, but we both walked off with pars.
With the skies now beginning to darken, we made our way to Ridge, the 376-yard par four ninth. There is a deep creek that runs down the entire left side. of the fairway. It’s more of a trench actually that measures a good yard and a half across, and at least 2-yards deep! Flanking both banks are funky-looking homemade ball retrieves that are long enough for the task.
Needless to say, a straight tee ball is what is required off the tee here. With a huge bunker-less elevated green that has a false front, it is easy to end up short. I hit driver down the dry right side and then needed to execute a low shot to stay under the branches of the trees for my approach. It flew out hot, but I didn’t take enough club and couldn’t get up and down to save par.
The luck with the weather that we had on the front ran out on us as it started to rain walking down the tenth fairway. Even though I am an Oregonian, the rain we’re experiencing in New Zealand is beginning to take its toll on us.
Our favorite hole on the golf course was Dardanelles, the long slightly uphill 200-yard par 3 twelfth. With punishable bunkers that guard the long kidney-shaped green both short and long, club selection is critical here. This one-shotter feels longer from the tee but trust your distance and choose your club wisely. The perfect play here would be something that is hit high and moves from right to left off the tee. I have difficulty hitting a 5-iron high, but it ended up just left of the pin. Lucky for me the green was wet, and it held its position. Menekse meanwhile was a club long. With the rain now falling steadily, she chipped short of the hole but made a great four. Our decision to walk back to the clubhouse afterward was an easy one.
While in the pro-shop, we talked with Mr. Scott Riordan, the Head Professional. He told us that it isn’t normally this wet this late in the spring. Determined to play just a couple more holes, we took a chance on a short break in the rain and headed to the seventeenth tee. Pancake, the 189-yard par 3 is probably the signature hole of the golf course. This well-protected green has a lot of slope to it.
A narrow fairway that doglegs right awaits you on Pines, the difficult 377-yard par 4 finishing hole. With a small opening available, it is possible to move the ball around the pine trees on the right side. From that angle, you can see the long narrow green that is protected short left by another cool-looking lonesome tree! We have seen some incredible finishing holes in our travels, and Pines is up there with the best of them!
A Shot Makers Golf Course
Invercargill was immaculately maintained, with the first real fairways that we had played in a while. Many of the greens were large, offering the possibility of many interesting pin placements. The bunkers were in particularly great spots! There were not only limited to the first third of the greens but many were also scattered all the way to the back.
With trees in strategic areas, fairways that move both left and right, and greens capable of tucking away pins, Invercargill Golf Club is a true shot-makers golf course. In order to score well here, you need to be able to work the ball. The ability to move your shots both left and right, not to mention low and high are essential.
During our round, I couldn’t help but think of my father. He plotted his way around a golf course, and always loved to work the ball this way or that. He had the ability to hit a high fading four-wood just as easily as a low drawing 7-iron. I imagined how he would have tackled this golf course. What would he have hit into the green on Ridge to ensure he wasn’t short? How would he have approached the pine trees on Pines?
While I’m no longer able to answer these questions, I know positively that my father would have absolutely loved Invercargill Golf Club. As did we!