Castle Stuart

A wonderful new links in northern Scotland, designed by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse


Picturesque 12th green at Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales


1st hole at Dooks in south west Ireland with a storm approaching


Harry Colt's marvellous creation at Rye in southern England


Wairakei  is a Thomson Wolveridge and commander John Harris collaboration and opened in 1970. Located just out of Taupo it is in a beautiful site of 180 hectares of native flora and fauna. An expensive perimeter fence has been erected to keep out all the vermin, such as feral cats.

The course is very picturesque but the fairways are constantly watered and as a result there is little run. Apparently the growing season is too short for any form of couch and the fairway grass requires lots of water. The poa greens were somewhat bumby and a little disappointing. Bunkers are well maintained with tree fern trunks used as supports.

There are quite a number of dog-leg holes and some burns which can be hard to spot playing here for the first time. One of the best views is from high up on the 6th tee. You need to avoid the fairway bunker on the left which is very much in play.

The 8th is a very short par 4 of only 323 metres from the white tees (350 blue) but is deservedly rated Index 2. You have to position your drive (with an iron or possibly 3 wood) perfectly to then play across a pond and trees.

Index 1 is the par 5,  14th which plays uphill and features a very large pine tree almost in the middle of the fairway. The 17th is a difficult driving hole from the back tee as you are forced to hit a draw over or left of a thin but tall cypress tree that is pretty much right on your line.

The clubhouse is in a lovely setting beside the 18th green and inland from the pro shop. The course was enjoyable but it was a pity the area was so dry once you were even a little off the main fairway. Unfortunately we played on a Monday as this is when the ground staff do most of their maintenance.


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  • par 4, 6th
    par 4, 6th
  • par 3, 10th from the 18th fairway
    par 3, 10th from the 18th fairway
  • par 5, 14th from behind the green)
    par 5, 14th from behind the green)