Kinloch Golf Club
Just off the shores of Lake Taupo lies a heathland gem, designed to showcase all the region has to offer. Sweeping views of the mountains and lake frame a Nicklaus design not to be missed.
The Round Up
Location: 15mins west of Taupo, Central North Island
Green Fees (NZD): Domestic: April-October- $150 & Nov-March- $250
International: April-October- $235 & Nov-March- $350
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Tip: Take a mid-iron down the left side, right is dead!
The Takeaways: Impeccable condition, Memorable layout, Great Vibes, Panoramic views, Definitely a stern test of golf which may not be the best option for high handicappers!
Signature Hole: 10th Hole
Insider Knowledge: Play the course first thing in the morning, or into the evening to maximize views and lighting. When in doubt, club up!
10th - Par 4 with an elevated tee, hitting straight down the hill. Dramatic view overlooking the Lake and mountains.
17th - The longest Par 3 on the course looking straight out over the lake, with a steep drop off left of the green and deep fescue to the right.
18th - The closing par 5 with a rare open tee shot, provides an opportunity to attack the green with your second shot but the lake left of the green is ready to collect anything off line.
“Having just played Kinloch for the first time, I can honestly say this is the number one golf course in New Zealand’ – Sir Bob Charles (1963 Open Championship winner)
Kinloch has the wow factor. The moment we passed through the gates, there was a real sense that this was a unique golf course in New Zealand. Australasia’s sole Nicklaus signature design could be dropped in Scotland or Ireland and wouldn’t look remotely out of place, with its links style fescue framing the perfect fairways. A distant, inland homage to Kingsbarns and Dumbarnie Links of Scotland.
On this day we couldn’t have been luckier with the weather. A crisp April morning, not a cloud in the sky. The thing that I loved most about Kinloch was the reception we got when we arrived. It wasn’t stuffy or snobby, rather we were greeted by the pro with a smile, a yardage book, a bucket of balls to hack into their perfect range facility, and an encouraging “hit ‘em hard lads”. This is what all New Zealand golf courses should aspire to, and if it’s good enough for Kinloch, it should be good enough for anywhere.
The first tee shot provides an indicator of what’s ahead. Fairways lined with bunkers up the left and knee-deep fescue on the right, the landing area quickly narrowing the further up you drive the ball. The first shot sums up what I love about this golf course, there is a risk-reward balance to every single shot you play tee to green. If you’re playing bold you best be accurate, or you may find yourself scrambling to the pro shop at the turn to collect a few more balls. With the tight margins between the perfect spot and a lost ball, Kinloch is the ultimate thinking golf course and I can't tell you how many fun shots there are out there!
By all accounts Kinloch’s conditioning is perfect year round, and coming out of a particularly dry Summer, the course was impeccable with not a blemish across the grounds. Visually, Kinloch is striking. Wildly contoured fairways, offering a smorgasbord of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, are encompassed by fescue, attractive bunkering and water hazards. Elevated tees, particularly on the back 9 provide glimpses of Lake Taupo, and the entire property is framed by towering mountains and hills. Everywhere you stand on the golf course there is a sweeping vista ready to swallow you up. The Kinloch experience is as much a scenic hike as it is a round of golf.
I was shocked by how good the layout was. Kinloch is so fun and interesting that I can walk the course in my head one through eighteen. Typical of Nicklaus Designs, Kinloch boasts a layout full of memorable holes, with each tee box presenting an unforeseen view of the incoming challenge. The Par 4 10th is Kinloch’s crown jewel. An extensively elevated tee with sweeping views of the course and Lake Taupo peaking over the top. As an added bonus, the 10th tee is also home to one of the most elite golf benches across New Zealand where I could happily sit for hours taking in the view. The spectacular Par 3 17th is the trademark one-shotter, also featuring sweeping lake views from the tee. The hole plays 200m downhill, guarded by deep fescue at the front of the green, demanding one of the better long iron swings of the day.
We caught Kinloch on a particularly friendly day, with the course playing reasonably soft without a breath of wind. The layout was challenging yet playable for all abilities. There aren’t massive carries off the white tees, nor towering pot bunkers which would exclude the shorter hitter or beginner. On a day like this, I could comfortably recommend the course to players of most abilities. On a day with strong winds and the course playing firm, Kinloch would be tougher but not unplayable by any means.
I LOVE Kinloch . It is exceptionally special and should be treated as an experience, rather than simply another golf course. From the moment we arrived, to the final beer being poured in the clubhouse, the vibes were immaculate and we were treated like members. The key to getting the most out of Kinloch is treating the round as you would a hike, taking in every view it has to offer. Get hung up on a lost ball or the numbers on your card and you will miss the magic around you.
Booking a Tee Time
Like the majority of golf courses in New Zealand, Kinloch is a public golf course, in fact it has no members. Booking around a month in advance would pretty much guarantee a tee time, however in high-season it may pay to book a bit further out.
Bookings can be made online HERE
Alternatively, drop Club Professional Tom Long (Absolute legend) a line at email@example.com and he will sort you out in no time!
Where to Stay
High End: The 'Kinloch Manor' is on-site and provides sweeping views of the course. Truly one of NZ's premium accommodation options.
Mid-Range: The Country Lodge in Kinloch is situated 5 minutes from the course, providing comfortable rooms with lake viewsat an affordable price.
Budget: The Acacia Lakeview Motel, located in the heart of Taupo's township offers affordable units & apartments on the lakefront.
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes
Taupo is a destination with a few of New Zealand's top courses, and is well worth extending your stay to play them:
- Taupo Centennial Golf Club
What to do in the Area
Taupo (15mins away) is often dubbed the 'Queenstown of the North' for tourism so you will be spoiled for choice. Get stuck into a few adventure activities while you're here: