Time to tee off while away on holiday - where?

KEVIN NORQUAY
Last updated 09:39 30/12/2013
Chris Hyde
WARWICK SMITH/ Fairfax NZ

BLISS ON COURSE: Chris Hyde tees off in serenity at Rangitira, near Hunterville.

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You're in a holiday mood, you've packed your golf clubs, balls tees and your gaudy pink tartan plus fours. All you need is some sage advice on where to play.

Stuff is here to help you, with some wallet- and user-friendly guidance on fun courses where you can grip it and rip it.

Courses have to be near holiday spots, be relaxing, and offer value for money.

MANGAWHAI, NORTHLAND, 72KM SOUTH OF WHANGAREI

White sand, rolling surf, a quaint seaside village AND a classy golf course. Perfect. And it's peaceful, with each hole self contained and invisible from the next. Your hacks, scuffs and topped shots will go largely unnoticed. Watch out for the bunkers on the 7th though, you might think you're back at the beach if you venture in there.

WAIKARE, TE KAUWHATA, WAIKATO, 80KM SOUTH OF AUCKLAND

Get out of the urban rush of Auckland, and take a drive to a charming little course nestled in the wee town of Te Kauwhata, with views across prime dairying land and Lake Waikare. It's a gem. It's not very long, but there are tricks and quirks wherever you look, and several attractive water hazards poised to greet your arrival with a cheery "splash". Go wine tasting afterwards, or check out the historic battle site at nearby Rangiriri.

TAIRUA, COROMANDEL PENINSULA, 150KM EAST OF AUCKLAND

With the Coromandel crawling with holidaymakers, a trip to this course can put you into an oasis of calm. Well perhaps, if you can avoid what the club cheerfully describes as "natural water features". Lovely, but potentially soul-destroying. If the golf gets annoying you can try the eight-rink bowling green, or one of the four croquet lawns. Or the clubrooms.

TE PUKE, BAY OF PLENTY, 31KM EAST OF THE MOUNT

Tauranga is blessed with top class courses, with Mount Maunganui, Omanu and Tauranga all well worth a look. But Te Puke is the most relaxed, the least crowded, and still offers some beautiful holes. The tee markers are plastic kiwifruit. Cute. Watch out for the sixth - go right and you're out of bounds, and the fairway slope will aid that grim prospect. Go too far left though, and you're blocked out from the green. It's a holiday wrecker.  

OHOPE, BAY OF PLENTY, 15KM EAST OF WHAKATANE

Beautifully positioned on a peninsula, with the sea on three sides and a view of White Island smouldering away in the distance. The course slogan is ''We Love It........So Will You''. It goes under the upper class name of Ohope International Golf Club but welcomes allcomers. Other attractions: stunning Ohope beach and one of the sunniest climates in the country. What could possibly go wrong, other than an encounter with ball-eating pot bunkers?

RANGATIRA, RANGITIKEI, 32KM SOUTH OF TAIHAPE

Ok, so Mangaweka isn't an actual tourist destination, but Rangatira is alongside State Highway One, so chances are you'll be one of the thousands of motorists that go zooming by on your way to a beach or a lake. Take a break and bask in the wonder of this stunning three-tiered course, high above the Rangitikei River. And take a trip back up from the 18th green to the clubhouse on the recently restored electric cable car - that and the spectacular views alone are worth the modest green fees.

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MARTINBOROUGH, 81KM NORTHEAST OF WELLINGTON

Quality wine, views across rolling Wairarapa hills, craft shops, lip smacking good cafes, and the attractive Martinborough Hotel - this course is central to many relaxing holiday activities. You can visit the vineyards after you've taken on its tree-lined fairways, or you can pop in while you're playing if your tee shot goes astray on the difficult third and 12th holes, just across the road from row upon row of vines.

NELSON GOLF CLUB

Right by the sea, right by the airport, a course that just screams HOLIDAY. Not one for the sensitive golfer easily distracted by noise, as it can be right on the flight path of all manner of aircraft. Watch out for the par-three sixth hole, where the wayward can have their ball disappear into the harbour. Or if you prefer, you can pop your tee-shot into a greenside bunker, then hit the ball into the sea from there.

WESTPORT GOLF CLUB

Head for Carters Beach, it's across the Buller River near the airport (a lofty description perhaps), with the rough-cast Tasman Sea on visual. Once it was dotted with trees, but the wind kept blowing them down, so they were gradually culled. It's said one pine that proved resistant to the weather met its doom when frustrated club members felled it one dark night. For those with a sense of history, this course has been here since 1905, and echoes the links of Scotland, where the game was born.

WAIMAIRI BEACH, NEW BRIGHTON, 11KM FROM CENTRAL CHRISTCHURCH

Smashed around three times by earthquakes in 2011, Waimairi Beach Golf Club has had reconstructive surgery, to emerge even better than before. You need to play clever golf there and its links style set up is different from anything else in Christchurch. The new course opened in May, with the existing clubhouse too badly damaged to be saved. Pop on down, pay your green fees and help the club get back on its feet.

ARROWTOWN, CENTRAL OTAGO, 20KM EAST OF QUEENSTOWN

Historic and scenic, surrounded by mountains with superb views. You even have historic stone cottage ruins to examine, as you steer your little white ball (hopefully) down the fairways. If you fail to do that, your ball can fly wildly off rocky outcrops, made of schist. Cries of "oh schist!'' often accompany poor shots here.

- Stuff

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