Knowing for about a month that I was playing Windross Farm for the first time had filled me with quite some excitement. The major reason for this being that Casey, my normal Auckland golfing buddy, was deeply concerned that this course would suit me way too much.
Normal behavior for him is to smartly drag me along to the most undulating courses when visiting Auckland to negate my best-golfing traits. So what a pleasure it was as we wandered out south of Auckland and entered a wonderfully flat piece of land nestled between some rolling hills. I knew then…..it was going to be a good day!
Opened in 2016, Windross Farm is located 30 mins south of Auckland in Ardmore. The setting is glorious—a links course by design – unusual by its inland setting. The subtle and effective combination of the natural topography and some very smart artificial lakes/ plantings give a minimalistic look that works. Seamless fescue fairways that are generous once on them are matched by Bentgrass greens of considerable size and challenge.
How Windross Farm came to be is in itself a fascinating story. Windross Farm is effectively the new Manukau Golf Club. Manukau, located in the south of Auckland, was a pleasant but not spectacular course located on the Manukau Harbour. In the early 2010s, a deal was done with a property developer to sell the land, and in return, receive a whole new course located further south, plus some money in the bank.
A similar deal was done simultaneously with a course on the North Shore of Auckland, Peninsula Golf Club, and I have to say that Windross nailed their project, in my opinion, with what potentially was a pretty bland piece of land on paper.
They have ended up with a very playable and fun members golf course that can be set up to host the world’s best, including an LPGA tour event. It is probably not long enough to host an equivalent men’s event, but it is still plenty challenging, and every inch of available land has been used brilliantly.
Cost – $125- $165
#2 – Long par 5 would take 2 fairly hefty hits to get to the green in 2. I drove my ball into ‘burn’ down the right side, which was semi-dry. A hack out of there left me 250m in for my 3rd. As I was so far back, this took out of play the layup zone bunkers which would catch many a ball. Fortunately hit it on the front of the enormous green and 2 putts from another time zone for par. The wind here and all day is a factor.
#10 – Par 4 – Having never played here before, I was super conservative and hit a Hybrid 5 to ensure that I hit the fairway. In hindsight could have been a lot more aggressive. However, another burn runs across the left-hand side of the fairway and the width of the fairway, scaring you in that conservative approach. A more experienced local would be a lot more aggressive. Is in your eyesight when you hit your 2nd – just giving a little doubt and taking an extra club to be sure. Good start to back nine
#15 – Par 4 – A little more detail about this hold later on but essentially a driveable par 4. Water down the right and bunkers in play if you lay up means in my eyes…. Only one thing to do….great risk/ reward hole.
#17– Par 3 – We played this hole into a gale-force wind. It was brutal. Adding to the brutally was a group of hecklers giving Casey gripe about his substantial by now fades. Kudos for not biting. Water left, bunker right, OB well right, it was a tough shot late in the day when the wind has battered you. A par here on any day a good score
Everything else ….
We had played golf in the morning at another course so stopped at café on the grounds for lunch. The excellent facility should be given that so new- the bar and attached outside area was as the course is nice and minimalistic and in keeping with what I assume trying to achieve. Extensive pro shop – only too happy to help. I enjoyed the putting green- it helped me get a feel for the greens, which were vastly different from where we played earlier that day.
I LOVED it. Now I played very well and shot a one-over-par 73. While the score was good, I played that well in the conditions – as mentioned, the wind was pretty challenging. Casey was certainly right. It was a course that was in my wheelhouse of comfortability.
Highlight – drove the Par 4 301m par 4 15th – as we stood on the tee for a few minutes, I did ask if It was possible that I could hit on the green and if it was waiting for green to clear. Casey was adamant it was fine as it required a power fade which I don’t really hit. Well, I hit, and it shot off the face and motored to the middle of the green and past the golfers putting. I was very apologetic to the group in front who were more concerned that I at least 2 puts and made birdie (I did).
I would play here again- in a heartbeat. Do I think Casey will ever want to play here with me again – unlikely!
8.0 out of 10 – The course is amazing. It could be considered slightly overpriced by NZ standards, but you will not regret the spend post-round. The fairways will also only get better over time.