A new golf course owned by jeweller Michael Hill sits in elite company alongside Augusta National as one of the world’s best par-3 courses according to the influential Golf magazine.
Hill’s latest venture, known as The Farm, opened last year. The nine-hole par-3 course sits alongside his more well-known property, The Hills. It’s one of three New Zealand courses listed in Golf magazine’s top-100 “short” courses.
The others are Arrowtown and the little-known Mahia Golf Club.
The magazine split its top 100 into three categories: courses under 6,000-yards (5400m), par-3 courses and nine-hole courses.
The Farm is one of 25 par-3 courses and keeps prestigious company alongside Augusta National’s famed par-3 course which hosts an annual tournament on the eve of The Masters.
Golf Magazine said The Farm offers the ability to play all clubs in the bag, including taking a putter off the tee on some holes.
“Brilliantly routed to follow the water race, the Farm is a leisurely walk across dramatic land overlooking postcard views of Queenstown. The nine par threes are eminently playable with huge teeing areas providing extensive options and alternative routes which provides challenge and fun for all abilities. From the back plates it’s a helluva test whilst from the front you can play each hole with a putter. An epic set of greens are punctuated by a dell, halfpipe and a wild double green which may well be the biggest putting surface Down Under.”
The Farm is designed by Australian Darius Oliver, who says the layout is one his favourite golf courses anywhere in the world.
“Part of the charm of The Farm is that we were able to build something that looks like it’s been there forever, literally it’s a farm that’s been mowed down,” Oliver told the New Zealand Herald.
“The land is where Michael and Christine Hill would walk their dogs every day and by putting a golf course in, it hasn’t changed the character of the land, it’s just maintained as a golf course now.
“I have to deflect any credit to Michael and Christine, they were great clients who allowed us to do what we wanted on a wonderful piece of land – it’s pure golf.”
Oliver is a huge fan of nearby Arrowtown and said that course influenced his design to some extent – notably the absence of any bunkers.
Arrowtown has a cult following among golf architecture buffs for its incredible design through rugged, rock-strewn landscape.
“Not only a great short course. It’s one of the very best courses in New Zealand. Brilliant. Wild. And you can be a member for a year for $600, less than it costs for one game across the road at The Hills,” said Golf magazine wrote.
The biggest surprise in the rating list is the remote Mahia Golf Club, situated in the popular holiday spot on the Mahia Peninsula in northern Hawke’s Bay.
“A step back in time, this volunteer-run links course is golf at its purest. Low lying through the dunes there are moments where, but for the weather, you could be in Scotland. Uniquely, from the clubhouse, you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean.”
There is one Kiwi on the 88-strong Golf magazine judging panel, event promotor Michael Goldstein.