Formosa Golf Club
A spectacular cliff-top site overlooking the Hauraki Gulf is home to one of New Zealand's most polarizing golf courses
The Round Up
Location: 40 minutes South-East of Auckland
Green Fees (NZD): Domestic: $70
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Tip: Plenty of room up the left, bombs away!
The Good: Interesting layout with plenty of variety in length and shape, Sweeping coastal views, Below average conditioning of the course may take away from the enjoyment
Signature Hole: 11th Hole
Insider Knowledge: Try to play the golf course after a run of good weather to maximise the conditioning
5th - Short Par 4 with longer hitters having the option to take it over the lake on the left hand side. Straight forward layup available to the right side.
11th - Short par 3 which can require anything from a 4 iron to a PW depending on the wind, playing from an elevated tee straight out towards the Hauraki Gulf- a thrilling tee shot!
12th - A scenic long Par 5 hugging the coastline, with a waste bunker running the length of the hole. A strong hole which is a guaranteed 3-shotter if playing into the wind.
Laid out 40 minutes South-East of Auckland amongst 50 Villas comprising the Rydges Formosa Resort, you would be hard pressed to find a more polarizing golf course in New Zealand than Formosa Golf Club. The course was developed as a high-end luxury option for overseas visitors as well as a Championship course used for National tournaments, with Bob Charles being entrusted with the design and ambitiously opting to use Augusta as the template (But don't hold your breath). The course has been an absolute rollercoaster over the past 25 years, from the heights of hosting the NZ Open in 1998, to being run-down in 2010.
Perched on top of a cliff site littered with native Pohutakawa trees and palms, featuring sweeping views of the Hauraki Gulf, Formosa may well sit on one of the most spectacular and valuable pieces of property in all of New Zealand golf. The expansive ocean views from the clubhouse alone are enough to convince you that the property has potential to be one of the most enjoyable golfing experiences in the country, and make for a pleasant walk with some awe inspiring vistas throughout.
Formosa is laid out in an incredibly interesting way. All of the holes are strategically compelling and there is a significant amount of variety, and hole structures promote a strong risk-reward balance throughout. There are opportunities for plenty of creative and fun shots navigating strategically placed fairway and greenside bunkering, water hazards, blind tee shots, and intriguing green complexes. It wouldn’t be inconceivable that Formosa has the greatest number of engaging holes in the country and if golf courses were solely rated on their layout, Formosa would feature much higher up the list. Given its coastal location, much of the course is exposed to heavy winds off the sea, which can add another challenge.
The short par 4 5th showcases the risk reward balance, which may tempt longer hitters into attacking the green over the water requiring a 250m carry, but also provides an easy layup to the right of the water with a mid-iron. The stretch of holes from 11-14 along the coastline are the gems of the golf course, with the par 3 11th playing from an elevated tee straight out towards the Hauraki Gulf- a thrilling tee shot!
Now for the obvious let-down. It is incredibly clear that Formosa’s conditioning has been neglected over time. The fairways are patchy and heavy, with extremely poor drainage across the course and the greens follow suit. I have been told that the overall conditioning has steadily improved over the last 12 months, however it is extremely disappointing that a course with such exceptional bones has been let down by a lack of investment in maintenance. It’s certainly not unplayable, however if you were to play the course then be sure to target a day during a stretch of good weather!
The biggest takeaway was that I had a lot of fun playing the holes and working my way around the course. The level of variety in the holes, and overall strong and interesting layout outweighs the below-average conditioning and I would love to play the course again. It’s worth repeating again, that were courses solely rated on layout and visual appeal, there is no reason why Formosa wouldn’t be near the top of the list which makes it worth experiencing.
Booking a Tee Time
As with all resorts, Formosa encourages as much guest play as possible amongst their regular member play. An email a week in advance will be sufficient to gain a tee time.
Booking requests should be sent through email to: email@example.com
Where to Stay
Formosa Golf club offers the option to stay at the resort, which is run by Rydges. Offering 50 well-kept villas with views of the Coastline and golf course it provides a nice setting for a night away.
However, it would be wrong of me to recommend staying outside Auckland on a trip to Formosa. New Zealand's largest city is packed full of excellent accommodation, restaurants and things to do!
High End: Hilton Auckland is perched on the end of the Viaduct overlooking the water, with all of the usual Hilton amenities. A smooth 6 iron from all the action!
Mid-Range: Heritage Auckland, located in the CBD (5 minutes walk to the Viaduct) offers comfortable rooms with an excellent rooftop pool
Budget: Travelodge Hotel is perfectly located in the Wynyard Quarter in the Centre of Auckland
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
The wider Auckland area is loaded with good golf, and is an area that is often overlooked by visitors. Within a short drive of Formosa you can play:
- Windross Farm
- Whitford Park
- Remuera Golf Club
What to do in the Area
Head to the top of the Sky Tower and take in the expansive views of Auckland
Take a short walk up Mount Eden for the best view of the Harbour & City
Head over to Holey Moley, a mini golf bar with some of the most outrageous designs you've ever seen!
Take the ferry across to Waiheke Island for some proper Island living. Home to some of New Zealand's finest wineries!
Keep heading West for 25 minutes from the golf club and explore some of New Zealand's rugged coastline beaches. Some favourites are Piha, Bethells Beach & Muriwai.
Eat at New Zealand's number 1 ranked restaurant 'The Grove'