Idyllic Parkland Design
The Round Up
Location: Upper Hutt, Wellington
Green Fees: NZ Affiliate: $150, Non-Affiliate: $250
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: A tight one first up- take less club and be accurate. Right is better than left!
The Takeaways: Excellent hazard integration, Interesting set of green complexes, Strong bunkering, A few weaker holes through the middle of the property
The 4th is a long par 5 with a drive which navigates a large cross-bunker. Approach or layout will need to avoid a large lake short and right of the green
The par 4 7th is a fantastic hole with an accurate tee shot leaving a wedge or short iron to carry the creek to an undulated green with a steep run-off at the front.
The 14th is a strategic short par 4 through the marshland with a well-placed fairway bunker. The hole is driveable for longer hitters, and the green features a distinct bowl in the centre of the green.
Royal Wellington is a place which feels classy. It has a beautiful gate paving the way to a gorgeous white clubhouse, and the property is conditioned immaculately. From the outside it feels like an American country club, but the relaxed vibe within carries a distinct Kiwi twist.
As a tree-lined parkland style golf course routed across a relatively flat piece of land, Royal Wellington’s quality immediately struck me as punching far above its weight. The course is flat in that there are very few significant changes in elevation, however it maximizes the strategic impact of the subtle undulations in the fairways, as well as with a number of plateaued greens featuring run-offs and swales smaller in size, but their placement ensures their influence outweighs their scale. This is notable at the short par 4 7th, where the slightly raised green features a false front run-off which pulls in anything short.
The layout of the course finds ways to add plenty of variety and intrigue, particularly through the integration of hazards. Streams cut through the property, often across the front of greens to challenge approaches and a large pond guards the right hand side of the par 5 fifth. However, it’s the integration of the marshland and waste on the outskirts which provides some of the better holes, opening up the course’s angles- a reprieve from tree-lined fairways on either side. The hazards are well placed, not overly penal and offer a challenge without removing playability.
Royal Wellington features some excellent bunkering- their rugged style easy on the eye and their placement well considered. With limited land movement, greenside bunkering is the flag’s main defence, while some large cross-bunkering in fairways adds a strategic risk-reward element to a number of tee shots. The par five second hole features some of the more striking bunkering around, with an army of sandpits up the right hand side of the fairway and short left of the green ready to swallow your lay-up or approach.
I’m a firm believer that any golf course can be made interesting with a decent set of green complexes, and Royal Wellington has done an excellent job in this regard. Each of the greens offers something unique, with a feature which makes it interesting to play into and putt on. Their size and nature are expertly varied and the balance of subtle and severe slopes make for some intriguing pin positions.
The par 3 8th encapsulates this, with an enormous green featuring a number of slopes, while the short par 4 14th offers a bowl in the centre of a large green. This diversity is maintained throughout the round, encouraging thoughtful approaches and creative shotmaking.
The overall layout features enough variety- a good set of par threes, a couple of intriguing short par fours and an array of hazards to navigate, however there are certainly a few holes throughout the middle of the property which are of the less-interesting traditional parkland description which you could find anywhere in the country. These less interesting holes are what separates Royal Wellington from the top tier of Kiwi courses, however there is no shortage of things to like and with the parcel of land they have, the architects have done a commendable job.
Royal Wellington absolutely belongs in the top 15-20 courses in the country, making it every bit worth visiting.
Booking a Tee Time
Easiest way to book a tee time is to fill in the form HERE and request one. A few weeks in advance (excluding Saturdays) should suffice.
Best Golf Nearby
- Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
- Miramar Links