Hamilton Golf Club
Traditional parkland golf on the banks of the Waikato River
The Round Up
Location: Hamilton, Waikato
Green Fees: NZ Resident- $60, Overseas Visitor- $75
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Aim at the tree on the left hand side of the fairway, plenty of room left and right of it!
The Takeaways: Well conditioned, Firm, fast and Contoured Fairways, Excellent Greenside protection through bunkers and swales, A few too many straight-routed holes
Signature Hole: 4th Hole
The 4th is a shorter par 5 dog-legging left and following the river on the right hand side. Approach shot into a wild sloping green. Excellent risk-reward hole!
Par 4 8th is a drivable hole shaping left to right. Excellent greenside protection with bunkers and swales ready to catch balls short and off line.
The par 3 18th hole plays 120m to an elevated green with a colossal bunker climbing the face of the greenside slope. Anything short of the green will be swallowed, and the double tiered green can make for a tough two putt!
There is a common reaction that people have when they first roll up to the clubhouse at Hamilton Golf Club, “What is THAT? There’s no way!”. It makes sense, the monstrous bunker climbing the face of the elevated green on the Par 3 18th is an absolute showstopper. It’s 10 feet high and I’d guess around 10 Metres in length, getting up and down is no mean feat. The destroyer of many solid rounds is the perfect way to close out a round.
Hamilton Golf club is a traditional parkland style golf course routed along the Western bank of the Waikato River – New Zealand’s longest river, running 425kms of the North Island. Generously wide fairways are lined by tightly packed trees throughout the course, and greens and fairways are protected by a number of cavernous bunkers – although the number of these has been halved over the past decade in an effort to make the course more playable for all abilities. Bunkers have been replaced by sharp run-offs making for some excellent approach shots, adding to strategy of holes and pure enjoyment factor. The green complexes are varied and interesting, with some flatter ones amongst a number of heavily sloped greens which can make for challenging putts when the greens are running fast. They are excellently varied and combined with the swales, run-offs and bunkering, separate the layout from many of its competitors.
Hamilton’s overall layout can best be described as steady with a few beauties. There are a few holes that are more interesting that others – the standout being the Par 5 4th hole which doglegs left alongside the river path. It’s reachable in two for many players at 430m, however the hazard right and the outrageously sloped green makes it incredibly tough- the perfect risk-reward hole. The short Par 4’s on the front nine 5, 7 and 8 are also interesting holes, presenting scoring opportunities into greens well protected by bunkers and swales- scoring opportunities which can lead to double bogeys. The front nine is certainly more of a crowd favourite, with a touch more diversity in hole length and design.
Rolling and undulating fairways, trademarks of land in the Waikato, do create opportunities for some interesting golf, even on the straighter holes, keeping players guessing and adding some natural variation to the design. The golf course has enough interesting features and holes to keep players engaged, however, the biggest takeaway of the layout is that a few too many of the holes are routed in straight lines with limited variety, the biggest let down of the golf course prohibiting it from being near the elite tier.
Hamilton maintains good conditioning most of the year-round, and during Summer it plays firm and fast, a rare trait in New Zealand golf which brings the undulated fairways very much into play, adding an element of both challenge and enjoyment to the course. Greens generally run true, and can get quick during the peak of Summer.
Hamilton Golf Club is an extremely playable, well-conditioned option which will appeal to most golfers. Although the course may be routed in relatively straight lines with a limited variety of holes, it has a few interesting holes weaved in, and the greenside protection through bunkers and run-offs combined with the undulating fairways provides sufficient challenge, and creates opportunities for some interesting approach shots. Hamilton is a solid option to play if you find yourself in the area.
Booking a Tee Time
Hamilton is the definition of a public golf club and is welcoming of guests at most times. Like most clubs, there are a number of Member only times scattered throughout the week, and Saturday is Members Day. Booking a few days in advance will be sufficient to land the tee time you're after.
The best way to do this would be to drop them a line at email@example.com
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:
- Tieke Golf Estate
- 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!