Royal Auckland & Grange
27 of New Zealand's Most Exclusive Holes
The Round Up
Location: Papatoetoe, Auckland
Green Fees: N/A - Members Club
The Takeaways: Moments of excellence across all three 9s, Excellent bunkering on the Middlemore 9, Beatifully conditioned, Some compelling green complexes throughout
The 2nd (M) is a beautiful par 3 which plays straight over a sea of sand to a partially blind green covered by bunkers at the front
The drivable short par 4 1st (T) measures just 250m and immediately asks questions with some well placed fairway bunkers and a punishing green complex with some steep drop-offs.
7 (T) is a long dogleg right par 4 which requires an accurate tee shot to navigate the marshland on the right hand side and a collection of fairway bunkers, with the fairway narrowing the further the ball flys. Approach shot into a narrow tilted green
Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club came to be upon the merger of Auckland Golf Club and the Grange Golf Club in 2015. The 27-hole spectacle in place was completed in 2021 after Nicklaus Design was commissioned to carry out ‘Project Legacy’, routing three distinct 9 hole layouts across one of New Zealand’s few clubs exclusive to members.
The Tamaki nine is split across both the Grange and Middlemore properties, occupying some of the most interesting and dramatic land on the course, primarily due to the integration of marshland and streams. The nine opens up the course with mangroves and deeper rough replacing the tree-lining, offering more width, angles and options to get the ball down. The layout offers plenty of variety, with two well-bunkered par 3s, an excellent risk-reward opening par 4, a collection of holes moving both ways, some forced carries and a couple of blind tee shots for good measure.
The Middlemore nine offers a more traditional feel, with tree-lined fairways and a layout which plays as it lies in front of you. Occupying the flattest piece of land, the main defence lies in the top-class fairway and greenside bunkering. It’s bunkering is present from the outset, as the opening tee shot asks you to navigate a huge section of cross-bunkering in the middle of the fairway!
The greens are significantly smaller than the other two nines, however they offer the same character with plenty of slopes, backstops and kickers. Although the most conventional, and routed across the flattest piece of land, the Middlemore nine offers the best collection of holes in terms of variety and shotmaking. The combination of exquisite bunkering, compelling green complexes and variety of shots it demands, alongside one of the best short par 4s in the country to finish puts it in the elite category.
The Grange nine was probably gifted the most ideal parcel of land with the most significant undulations throughout the property. Leaning more towards the conventional side, the holes are partially tree-lined with integration of water hazards on a number of holes. Combining aspects of the other two nines, there is some strong bunkering and well-integrated areas of marshland to provide some variety. Green complexes and their surrounds are more on the conservative side, and offer less intrigue than the other two layouts.
Royal Auckland’s conditioning is outstanding, and it’s worth noting that the greens were impeccable in their speed and purity- a pleasure to putt on. Visually, all three loops are extremely attractive and the contrast of fairway, rough, bunkering and the marshland is extremely easy on the eye.
Architecturally speaking, Royal Auckland won’t break any barriers, nor show any signs of real quirk- leaning a fairly conventional, traditional layout which offers a decent amount of variety in the way of hole structure and shots demanded. The bunkering is standout, and the collection of green complexes offer plenty to keep players engaged throughout the round.
The course offers a nice balance of shots which get your heart rate up, and those which provide a number of options to get the ball down. The ability to mix the nines up also offers a unique opportunity to play two quite different styles of golf. No doubt the courses are challenging in places, demanding a few forced carries and a sometimes punishing combination of deep rough and hazards forces players to think their way around the course.
Royal Auckland is particularly tough to place, and I genuinely believe there is a composite of 18 holes which could potentially work its way into New Zealand’s top tier, however it just lacks a bit of character, X-Factor and holes which really make you play strategically and think creatively. In saying that, the new re-design is solid overall and certainly worthy of a top 15 spot in the country- a place where you can certainly have an excellent day out!
Booking a Tee Time
Your only way in is through a member, and if you know one it is absolutely worth heading along with them given the opportunity!
Best Golf Nearby
- Windross Farm
- Whitford Park