Course Review and Comments
COURSE REVIEW—Jack’s Point Golf Club, Queenstown (Waikatipu), New Zealand (South Island)
DATE PLAYED: 5 Jan 13
TEES PLAYED: Black (6388m [approx. 7100 yards, Par 72). Blue (6188m [approx. 6800 yards], Par 72), White (5806m/apx. 6400 yards, Par 72) and Yellow (Forward—4980m, approx. 5600, Ladies Par 72) tees also available. No CR or slope available, but I’d guess it ranges from about a 74/135 from the tips, to about 72/125 from the White.
OVERALL: Another course featuring stunning visuals to thoroughly distract you, especially from #11 tee, but the entire course fronts “The Remarkables” mountain range…and remarkable they truly are. This is a housing development course that is significantly spread out—as a result, walking it is very difficult—and is as close to “target golf” as anything I’ve seen in New Zealand. It features a number of blind tee shots, forced carries and hazards to make this layout challenging, but the condition of the greens was simply the best I’d played in New Zealand. They are relatively quick, smooth and putt true. The overall course is manicured and the facilities first class—which, of course, comes with a price, but is well worth paying and playing.
STRENGTHS: Playing Environment—all around you are stunning snow capped mountains (The Remarkables, among others) and the jaw-dropping, pure, clear water of Lake Wakatipu. Course Design—maybe a strength and a weakness if you don’t like target golf, but I enjoyed the variety of hole styles and risk/reward options. Condition—also the best I played in New Zealand. Entire course was well manicured, but the greens are the feature of the course—what a pleasure to putt on these after playing several other offerings on the Island. Amenities—everything you could want and the clubhouse/restaurant is especially open and inviting. A best practice is handing out a sheet of “playing tips” for the holes with the scorecard. I haven’t seen this anywhere but on the course guides, but it was useful and accurate.
WEAKNESSES: Course Layout—It’s very widely spread out and does not have returning nines, so there’s not much flexibility in starting options. It took someone guiding me out and about a 15 min cart ride to find #10. As discussed, if you can’t handle target golf and carry the ball about 200 or so with the longer clubs, you’ll hate this course; however, if you can, it’s a fun challenge and features great reward for some risk. Cost—at $175-195NZ green fee, it’s steep—although not as high as a few NZ resort courses. If you live there, a member ship option might be the best approach, but for a tourist, it’s worth playing at least once, although the course and views might even make you stretch your budget and play it again.
PLAYABILITY: 6 (As noted, lots of forced carries and blind shots, the fairways are surrounded by unplayable brush—if you miss, it’ll cost you).
COURSE DESIGN/LAYOUT: 6 (This will be a split vote depending on how much you like target-style courses, and the spread out layout with non-returning nines has its drawbacks, the biggest being that you can’t readily walk it--but the design of each hole is wonderful).
STRATEGIC CHALLENGE/VARIETY: 10 (Good mix of different types of holes—there are short and long holes of all types. Especially nice are risk-reward options on relatively Short Par 5s and “half-par” 4s, as well as long “half par” 4s that are almost Par 5s (18!).
CONDITION: 10 (Fabulous across the board and best greens I played in NZ).
VALUE: 8 (It’s pricey, but in this case, you get what you pay for. If you lived there and weren’t rich or a member, you certainly couldn’t afford to play it very often, but it’d be a wonderful treat once in a while).
ENVIRONMENT: 10 (the only thing that will distract you from the golf here are the views themselves and maybe the constant to and fro of the skydivers—there are houses on the course, but they aren’t really in play from what I saw, at least on the back 9).
AMENITIES: 10 (It has it all and I loved the Course Tips—a Best Practice!)
OVERALL: 9 (4.5 golf balls).
WOULD I PLAY IT AGAIN? Yes—but due to price, not anywhere near as often as I’d like.
TIP’S TAKEAWAYS: Make sure you have a copy of the Course Tips before you leave the pro shop for first time players. The course also has pretty non-standard marking—a yellow marker at 90m to the FRONT of the green, white marker at 135m to the FRONT of the green and BLACK marker at 180m to the FRONT of the green. The only color that made sense to me was the white one and instead of distances to the center of the green, this follows the European convention to the FRONT but tends to use US/English distance intervals (100yds, 150yds, and 200 yds). I’d recommend using a laser and/or GPS…otherwise you’ll be scratching your head all day and will probably mis-club several times.
HOLE BY HOLE: Given that the Course Tips is thorough and accurate, I will only discuss a few holes by exception:
11—The Course Tips is correct on prevailing wind, but if there’s no wind, play the distance straight up—going long is almost a certain bogey due to the back to front slope on the green.
14—A right center or right side of the fairway drive will give the best angle in to the green if going for it in two and you can run it up the right side of the green between the right two bunkers.
15—The Course Tips says to add 1-3 clubs on your approach—favor the 3, no kidding—you can’t appreciate how elevated the green is from the fairway and you can’t feel the wind from down there either.
17—the #18 fairway is not OB—I say again NOT OB. I’m just saying…if you don’t want to thread your tee ball and approaches through bunkers, there is another option. Additionally, the green slopes away from the approach on the back third, so don’t get carried away attacking back pins.
NON-GOLF OPTIONS: Queenstown offers the full range of adrenalin-laced tourist activities, including a “must” ride up the Gondola for a stunning view and an opportunity to “luge” on wheels. If it’s your first trip to New Zealand and you’ve never seen a Kiwi, there’s a preserve with several of them at the base of the Gondola ride—buy a double ticket and get a discount (See Trip Advisor reviews for further details). There’s a nice romantic winery/dinner at Gantley’s in the hills behind the City if you’re looking for a way to make up to or impress your golf widow/widower after the round. They also offer free taxi service to and from the restaurant, so you can really enjoy the wine tasting experience. The “downtown” shops and restaurants all offer a variety of dining and shopping experiences, but are generally overrun by the “backpacking” crowd. Don’t believe Trip Advisor on the #1 restaurant there—no, it’s not a hamburger joint, it’s just a function of who wrote the reviews. For a great beginning in Queenstown, we recommend starting with a lake cruise as an excellent, low-stress orientation and it’s also a great rainy-day activity for the whole family. There’s also the first permanent disc-golf course in NZ and a nice nature walk immediately past the harbor on the left. If you’re an adrenalin junkie, there is a skydiving operation right down the road from the golf course and you’ll probably get an airshow while you’re playing.
See Tipsgolftips.com for other NZ and world-wide course reviews and playing tips.
By the way, the opinions expressed are subjective and are those of the reviewer. They do not necessarily represent the views of WorldGolf.com LLC.