Tieke Golf Estate
A riverbed links masterpiece amongst sprawling wasteland presents rugged excellence in design and conditioning
The Round Up
Location: 15mins South of Hamilton, Waikato
Green Fees (NZD): Domestic: $125
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Tip: Driver up the right hand side will give you the best angle into the green
The Takeaways: Outstanding variety in the layout, Excellent conditioning, Par 3s are fantastic, The stony wasteland across the course may divide opinions!
Signature Hole: 13th Hole
The 11th is a long par 4 dogleg left running along the river, with a hazard all down the left hand side. Excellent risk reward, with a driver needing to take an aggressive line over the hazard, or the option to layup. Approach shot into an elevated green. The hardest hole on the course.
The short par 3 13th plays severely downhill with a forced carry over wasteland. The green is tucked into a corner of the property, covered by bushes to the left. Heavily exposed to the wind, it can play anything from a sand wedge to a 7 iron.
The 14th is a short par with a sharp dogleg right. The tee shot is blind and a sharp fade makes the green drivable, but anything further right is swallowed by steep wasteland.
For many years now the Waikato region has been screaming out for a flagship course, so when Tieke Golf Estate opened their gates in late 2021, expectations of the redeveloped former Lochiel Golf Club were sky high. Traversing the banks of the mighty Waikato River, it’s riverbed links style is a purely unique offering to the New Zealand golfing landscape, and one that is sure to capture the imagination of visitors for years to come. A touch of luxury in the locker rooms and 19th hole only adds to an elite golfing experience!
Staring out across the golf course, it is immediately obvious that unlike its predecessor, Tieke has fully embraced the natural features of the riverside site. Presenting itself as rugged, edgy and full of links style character, the course wouldn’t look out of place on the famous linkslands of the United Kingdom. Pulling up to the clubhouse, expansive views across the first few holes provide some insight to the challenges ahead. Although at first glance it looks as though Tieke is littered with bunkers, there is actually not a single bunker on the golf course. Instead, sprawling areas of unrefined sandy wasteland wildly frames the beautifully manicured fairways across the course, waiting to swallow up any stray tee shots. It’s an intimidating first look at the course, but one that lets you know how unique the site is. Embrace the links!
If you manage to hit the fairway on the first hole, your next shot will provide you with a glorious surprise. With the course being constructed with natural river sand, a well struck iron will provide the small puff of sand normally reserved for the turf of seaside links courses. On striking the first iron shot, it becomes increasingly clear that purely and simply, this is perfect golf land. The fairways are rolling and undulating, providing some subtle natural variation to each of the holes which can put you at the mercy of the golfing gods – a thrilling way to play the game. Like a links course, the contours should be embraced not fought against!
As visually striking the rugged nature of the course is, it is the routing of holes which throws Tieke into the discussion as one of the best courses in the country. Tieke’s layout is one which captures the most possible fun shots, a characteristic which cannot be understated. The holes are routed in such a way that no two holes play the same way- an unmatched level of variety which forces you to use every club in your bag, surely the measuring stick for an engaging layout. Short par threes are mixed with some that may require a 3 wood off the back tees. Holes swing both left and right, with a number of drivable par fours thrown in on the back 9 for good measure. The par fives vary in both direction and length, creating opportunities to reach a couple in two no matter the wind direction.
There are shots over water hazards, out of bounds on the left and right sides, and the significant changes in elevation throughout the course lead to a number of blind tee shots and approaches. The course is a collection of excellent golf holes, promoting creative golf shots, risk-reward balance and playability for all abilities. Surely above everything else, this is the measure of excellence.
Tieke is definitely a second shot course. Although there are spots of brutally deep rough with card-wrecking potential, fairways trend toward the generous end in terms of width, however in order to score well tee shots must be left on the correct side of the fairway. This is because despite the absence of traditional greenside bunkers, the greens are expertly guarded by waste areas, deep swales and run-off areas, as well as unique and demanding green complexes. Bump and runs are equally rewarded as spinning wedges, a rare trait in Kiwi golf.
Visually striking, beautifully laid-out, and impeccably conditioned, Tieke is a fantastic addition to New Zealand’s landscape of premium golf courses. It maximizes the number of fun shots, whilst maintaining playability for all abilities, making it a destination that shouldn’t be missed. As the course matures, I have zero doubt that it will only get better and further climb up the rankings. Make the trip, it’s worth it!
Booking a Tee Time
Tieke is a public golf course, however it is probably one of the busier courses in the country. Visitor bookings need to be made a few weeks in advance at the latest to secure a tee time, however they are very receptive to guests.
Send an email to email@example.com to arrange a tee time
Where to Stay
Hamilton is far from a tourism hotspot, with it mostly being a pass-through city for people on their way South of Auckland. That being said there are a couple of solid accommodation options and things to do in the city if you please.
- Novotel Hamilton offers nice hotel accommodation in the heart of the city at higher-end prices
- The newly built Ramada Hotel is also located on the main street (Victoria St), and offers budget rooms in a great spot
Best Golf Courses within 45 Minutes:
The Waikato region is certainly not one of the premier golfing destinations in New Zealand, however there are some solid option on the table including:
- Walton Golf Club
What to do in the Area
- The Hamilton Gardens are globally acclaimed, offering visitors free access to a range of cultural gardens. Well worth a visit and certainly the city's main attraction!
- A stroll down the Waikato River is an excellent way to spend an afternoon, passing through town for a Duck Island ice cream is essential!
- All Lord of the Rings lovers should venture 45 minutes from the city to Matamata and visit Hobbiton
If none of this takes your fancy, then rest assured that Auckland, Mount Maunganui, Rotorua and the Coromandel Beaches are all reachable within 2 hours!