Known as “The Farm”, the new short course at The Hills Golf Club in Arrowtown, New Zealand was designed by Darius Oliver and built in-house by a committed and talented local crew led by club General Manager Brendan Allen.
The par three course features nine bunkerless holes, routed around an almost century-old water race (irrigation channel) that acts as the site’s central feature. Five tees are placed directly atop or alongside the race wall, and each of the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th holes play either partly or entirely across the crystal-clear water hazard.
Blessed with some of the most beautiful inland scenery imaginable, The Farm has been created with tremendous elasticity – each hole featuring a range of teeing options and changing dramatically with either a change of pin or a tee shot angle. Shots of up to 300 metres are possible on the property, though the course is easily played with two or three clubs and from tees that typically range from 70 – 160 metres on each hole.
The greens themselves sit naturally on the ground and enjoy great variety, with a nice mix of left and right leaning, uphill, downhill and sidehill shots on display. The double green shared by the 1st and 8th holes is likely the biggest in New Zealand, its 2,000-m2 shape essentially built by mother nature and grassed by the construction team.
Among the highlights of The Farm are the 1st hole, played from atop the water race and heading along the hazard into a heaving section of the double green. The 2nd hole plunges off the water race wall across a natural ravine into a falling target set beyond a nasty ditch. Shorter hitters, or those a little less confident in their ball-striking, can shift to the left of the tee here and essentially dribble a ball onto the green.
The 3rd and 4th holes play into and through a generous valley, before the course turns sharply toward Coronet Peak at the short infinity 5th, which is followed by the crossover 6th hole and its hidden dell green. The gorgeous race-top 7th hole max’s out at little more than 120 metres but crosses the hazard into a sublime natural hollow ringed by water. The 8th and 9th then follow the water race back toward the main course, the 9th featuring a dramatic downhill tee shot into a green angled toward a low-side pond.
Conflicted by my own involvement in the development of this golf course, I nonetheless believe that when it opened in 2019 “The Farm” became the standout par three course in New Zealand/Australia and among the best few short courses in the world. The property is perfect for fun golf, playable for all and seriously spectacular. There isn't another par three course I can think of that I would be happy to play the rest of my life.
Learn more about the opening of The Farm – click here
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