Little-known Waverley and Arrowtown are the big winners in legendary architect Tom Doak’s latest guide to New Zealand golf courses writes Phil Hamilton.

The straight-talking American architect, who designed modern masterpieces Tara Iti, Cape Kidnappers and Pacific Dunes, has published an updated Confidential Guide to Golf Courses edition that covers Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Arrowtown, along with Paraparaumu, was included in the gourmet’s choice of 18 courses he recommends and was highly rated by Doak and his three co-raters, who contribute to the guide to ensure Doak can’t be accused of favouring the courses he designed.

Co-author Darius Oliver singled out Arrowtown for it’s charm and quirkiness.

“The over-riding memory of a round at Arrowtown is the feeling of golf as it was meant to be: charismatic, curious, understated, inexpensive and a little light-hearted,” he wrote. ” … There are certainly better courses in New Zealand but few, if any, that we would prefer to play on a regular basis.”

Waverley, a small country course in south Taranaki, found itself rated higher than many of the country’s high-profile resort courses.

“The terrain for golf is superb and holes like the par-5 opener running along the edge of high ground, the short par-4 12th with its tiny green in a valley, the wild back-to-back par-5s at 14 and 15, and the short 16th over a dip to a green tucked in between sharp dunes, are among the best golf to be found in New Zealand,” Doak wrote.

The infamously blunt Doak, who wrote in the original Confidential Guide “I don’t need to see a Jack Nicklaus course to know it’s a five – out of 10”, was scathing about Christchurch’s Clearwater, the host course to many professional events.

“One of the real disappointments of New Zealand golf, this is a very flat course with shallow, useless bunkers and four par-3’s played across water. Skipworthy.”

Dunedin’s Chisholm Park was the “most under-rated” course in New Zealand, while Southland’s Oreti Sands sneaked inside the top 10 despite closing earlier this year.

Cape Kidnappers topped the NZ rankings, thanks to a perfect 10 from one of his co-authors, ahead of Tara iti, north of Auckland, and Paraparaumu.

Kinloch, near Taupo, was described as Nicklaus’ “most visually stunning design”.

Royal Melbourne West is the top course in the region, followed by Tasmania’s Barnbougle Dunes, which Doak co-designed with Mike Clayton.

Doak’s NZ Ranking

  1. Cape Kidnappers
  2. Tara Iti
  3. Paraparaumu
  4. Kauri Cliffs
  5. Arrowtown
  6. Titirangi
  7. Jack’s Point
  8. Kinloch
  9. Oreti Sands
  10. Waverley