Oreti Sands Golf Club

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  • Post last modified:December 8, 2022
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Oreti Sands Golf Club

Oreti Sands Golf Club

Our quest to play the world’s most unique golf courses brought us to Oreti Sands Golf Club. Unfortunately, it brought us here 18 months too late. Due to dwindling membership and lack of funding, the Club closed back in April 2018.

Located deep in the Southland of New Zealand, with no road signs, and no help from Google Maps, we couldn’t find the golf course on our first attempt. Wondering if we were close, we stopped an oncoming car to ask if they knew where the course was located. They unfortunately never heard of it and seemed to have never even heard of the word golf!

As they speed off, we decided to head to our next location just up the road, the Invercargill Golf Club.

The World’s Southernmost True Links Golf Course

Now, why would a golf course that we couldn’t find, and that has been closed for over a year be on our bucket list? That is a good question; one with a couple of good answers. First, according to our favorite golf book True Links, there are only 246 authentic links golf courses in the world.  Our goal was to play all 9 true links golf courses of New Zealand, and Oreti Sands was one. Not only that, but Oreti Sands Golf Club (no website found) was once the southernmost true-links golf course in the world!

While we were at Invercargill Golf Club, we inquired about Oreti Sands. From everyone that we talked to about the course, it seemed as though it was something special to play. We also learned that Mr. Gene Sarazan visited here back in 1934. His reason was simple- to “satisfy his ambition to have driven a ball further south than any other American professional!” He then proceeded to tee one up and hit it deep into the southern Tasman Sea.

And, most importantly while we were there, we were given directions on exactly where the golf course was located.

We Found It

Armed with directions, we managed to find the golf course our second time around. We pulled our campervan under the “Welcome to The World’s Southern Most 18 Hole Links Golf Course” sign and parked in the empty parking lot. It was eerily silent, but we found it!

We got out and peered through the windows of the locked and abandoned clubhouse. We could see unopened boxes of scorecards in the small room where the honesty box was located. It was here that we saw the “Course Closed” sign. It stated that the course was closed as of the 31st of March 2018.

Clubhouse at Oreti Sands Golf Club
The clubhouse at Oreti Sands Golf Club

Golf is a Good Walk Spoiled

We decided to take a walk around the golf course to see what, if anything, remained. Near the clubhouse, we saw remnants of a tee box from what we guessed was once the first hole. Standing there was an empty frame that once housed a hole sign that has long since disappeared. Continuing towards the sea, we found blue, white, and red fairway distance markers, and what we thought was once a green.

Opening hole at Oreti Sands Golf Club
The opening hole at Oreti Sands Golf Club
100 meters
100 meters

With greens, tees, and bunkers no longer visible, we walked through what had to have been a wonderful true-links experience. We found stairs that lead to tee boxes, but there were no tee markers. With the sun shining down, we walked around and between some incredible dunes! There was something peaceful strolling around these links even though we couldn’t play golf. And the more we walked, the more we could tell that this was once a true golfers’ golf course. 

Fairway views at Oreti Sands Golf Club
Fairway views
Green views
Green views

While walking around Oreti Sands, I decided to hit a shot in Mr. Sarazan’s memory. Unfortunately, I hit it into the trees! I hate to use the “S” word, but I literally shanked a brand-new Srixon into the trees dead right! Menekse was more accurate with hers and we found it in the long fairway grass.

Tree finder at Oreti Sands Golf Club
Tree finder at Oreti Sands Golf Club
Fairway finder at Oreti Sands Golf Club
Fairway finder at Oreti Sands Golf Club

While we were at Invercargill, we learned that the property would be for sale to the right buyer. Does anyone have a direct line to Mr. Mike Keiser, the genius behind Bandon Dunes? We have no doubt that his passion would breathe new life back into these incredible links!

Incredible dunes
Incredible dunes at Oreti Sands Golf Club

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Lyndon Hewton

    It is a shame that the Southland golf club closed a few years ago .
    It really was a wonderful course in its original 18 hole layout , and probably the best test of a golfers ability , or destroyer of egos in the lower south island of New Zealand .
    There are a lot of local golfers that blame the closure of the course on redevelopments designed by a certain NZ golfer G Turner , which made the course to difficult for a lot of the elder members of the club and general late teen handicappers and higher .
    You really did miss one of the best golfing experiences in New Zealand

    1. Hello Lyndon,

      Even though the course was no longer playable when we were there, we could see the bones of its former glory! There is no doubt that this course was something special. We would have relished the opportunity for Oreti Sands to destroy our egos!!!

      Thanks mate!
      Menekse and James

  2. Paul Strand

    I was lucky to have played it then! In 2012 I was there and it was lots of fun. Tough course if you missed the fairways… So sad it’s gone though it looks like it only needs to be cut to be fine again!

    1. Hello Paul,
      You were lucky indeed! When we were there, it just needed a little love to restore it back to its former glory!
      Thanks for stopping by our website!
      Yours in travel and golf,
      Menekse and James

  3. Elizabeth King

    Hi Team, had i known you where looking for is and visiting, i could have given you a tour of the inside, when the club closed down the Southland Astronomical Society started to lease a part of the building, we have been there ever since, and now we are building and observatory there, every now and then i/we see people there with the clubs etc hitting golf balls off into the distance.
    Elizabeth King

    1. Hello Elizabeth,

      That would have been amazing- thank you! We are very happy to hear that the clubhouse has been transformed into the Southland Astronomical Society. We were very fortunate to have seen the Aurora Australis while we were in Tassie- it was an experience that we will never forget! If and when we make it back to your incredible country, we would love to stop by!

      Yours in travel and golf,
      Menekse and James

  4. john

    played twice …. top10 NZ course on its day when course was in prime conditions ..hopefully one day it can be revived with a cornerstone rich southern golf nut … add in decent country member price offered many lower south club golfers would join to support the club I know I would if say it was a $250-$275 country membership(and I live 3hrs away!) …you get 200-300 easy … then if the growing southern Golfers would add 200-300+ core members … decent on course investment clubhouse + self contained accommodation with focus on overseas golf nuts wanting to play a brilliant lowest in southern hemi links it could make it back to one of the best links in NZ

    1. James Humphrey

      Hello John!
      We have heard how fantastic Oreti Sands was from so many players like yourself! We just wish we would have arrived in your beautiful country a couple of years earlier!
      If the course does get revived, we’ll be sure to join you there for a hit!
      Yours in Golf,
      Menekse and James

  5. Chris

    Having played this in the 1990s as a teenager, I have great memories of how cool it really was. It punished the bad shots which doesn’t deserve anything less in golf sometimes. Now I have a teenage son who’s a very keen golfer and know he would have enjoyed it as he hits much straighter than I ever did.

    1. James Humphrey

      Hello Chris!

      From everything that we have heard, your experience at Oreti Sands sums up how great of a golf course this must have been. No doubt your son would have loved these links! Thank you for stopping by!!!

      Yours in golf,
      Menekse and James

  6. Keith Ferguson

    My Dad Ian Ferguson and uncle Tun , Keith Gerrard would be turning in their graves. Our family created this golf course and it is a great shame they followed Turners advice to borrow too much money to alter the course. The alterations did nothing for the members and the borrowed money caused it to close down.

    1. James Humphrey

      We’re so sorry to hear that Keith. From everyone we talked to, we heard so many lovely stories about Oreti Sands and those that played there.
      We truly hope that something positive will come of the property- it is just too good to sit idle.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, your support means so much to us!

      Yours in golf,
      Menekse and James

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