Tokanui Golf Club
Like many of the golf courses we played in New Zealand, Tokanui Golf Club isn’t on the main tourist route. But when you are mainland New Zealand’s most southern golf course, dedicated golfers will find a way to get there. And since we played Houhora Golf Club, the most northern golf course, we knew that we had to add the most southern to our list of golf in New Zealand.
Driving up the gravel dirt road we arrived in a completely empty car park. With dark clouds above, we slid our rain jackets into our Jones bags, eager to discover what lie ahead. Tokanui Golf Club (no website found) is 9 holes that have 2 sets of tees that allow 18 holes of golf. The front measures 2616-yards from the Men’s markers and 2524 from the Women’s markers. Playing it from both tees brings it to 5229 from the Men’s and 5136 from the Women’s.
We placed our 10 NZD (5,24 Euro, 5.60 USD) into the honesty box and looked around at the emptiness ahead. Just then, the keeper of the greens appeared from out of the small cart barn out back. Asking where we were from, we shared our travel story with him and said that we were excited to play the most southern golf course we have ever played. After chatting for a while, he told us that he would be long gone before we finished. All that he asked was that we lock the gate when we leave.
Lock the Gate When You Leave
Not sure where to go, we saw the sign on the clubhouse that read “No 1 tee is across the road”, so we headed that way. The opening hole at Tokanui Golf Club is named Dead Ahead. But, if you aim dead ahead on this 330-yard par 4, you’ll most likely end up near the second green. So best is to have a little draw to your opening tee shot. But the most memorable aspect of the tee shot is just trying to figure out where exactly dead ahead is! Luckily for us, the greenskeeper was still nearby. He must have noticed us standing on the tee scratching our heads. He came over and pointed us in the right direction. Take aim across over the road you drove in on, he indicated. It isn’t until you walk down a hill, through a gate, cross the road, and through another gate that you arrive at the fairway. Just be sure you lock both gates behind you!
Let’s Play Golf
Toi Tois is the uphill 396-yard par 5 dogleg left third hole. It is possible to take a little off this hole by taking aim over the pasture that borders the left side and hitting it hard. As we walked up the hill, we were greeted by a gallery of cows that must have seen a lot of spectacular golf shots in their lives. Because they never even acknowledged the shots we soared over their heads!
There is nothing extravagant about Norwester, but it was probably our favorite golf hole! Standing at one of the higher points of the golf course, and a view of Toetoes Bay in the distance, simply take your driver and let one fly on this straight-away 287-yard downhill par 4. With the sun beginning to peek out from behind the clouds, there was something satisfying about the walk down this fairway. There are moments in this incredible trip that make us stop and really take in what we are doing. Traveling to the ends of the earth with our golf clubs defiantly has its rewards.
Reaching the green, we realized what was making Tokanui Golf Club more difficult than it should be.
Golf is Difficult Enough
We must admit that Tokanui Golf Club wasn’t the best-conditioned golf course that we have played, but not once did it detract from the fun we had. The fairways were nicely mowed, but the grass on the tee boxes was very long. We’ll blame that for some of the sky-high tee shots we hit!
The greens probably hadn’t been mowed for a week, but that wasn’t what made putting difficult. No, simply put, the cups were too small! If you left the pin in while putting, there wasn’t enough room for the golf ball to fall into the hole! It’s probably because the greens hadn’t been cut. Golf is difficult enough, so when the ball doesn’t even fit in the hole, it makes the game almost impossible!
Road Hole Ocean Views
The anticipation for the Road Hole, the 303-yard par 4 sixth begins once you putt out on five. If you can putt it out that is! Hearing the ocean, you know that you are in for something special as you walk up the embankment that leads to the tee box. With an incredible view of the Southern Ocean, we gazed out realizing there was nothing between us and the South Pole!
The only similarity between the Road Hole to its namesake that we found was the road. Also a dogleg, this hole bends left with a road, but there was no hotel to aim at. Nevertheless, the view from the tee box alone was unforgettable.
We finished our round as the sun began its slow descent. We packed our golf bags into Lorna, drove out of the car park, locked the gate as we left, and made our way to one of our favorite camp grounds in all of New Zealand. It was evenings like this that we only dreamt of a couple of years ago. We are truly relishing the tucked-away corners of this extraordinary country.
When you make it to Tokanui Golf Club, and you really should, take time to enjoy the view from the tee box of the Road Hole. Just don’t forget to lock the gate when you leave!