Published on : Saturday, August 13, 2016
The Kinloch Club has come of age. The nine-year-old club is now firmly etched on the golfing map, benefiting from hefty investment over the past five years by New Zealand-based owner Southpark Corporation and the vision of its executive director, John Sax.
New Zealand’s only Jack Nicklaus signature design, the par-72 championship course on the shores of Lake Taupo has always been regarded as one of Nicklaus’s best.
A tough challenge, Nicklaus himself drove the first ball on opening day back in 2007 and returned a year later to play all 18 holes. He is quoted as remarking: “You won’t find another golf course that looks much like this in the world”.
Today at Kinloch, it’s all about the future. The Lodge, now six months old, has a bold, luxurious design – with credit going to Andrew Patterson, of Pattersons Associates Architects, and interior designer Virginia Fisher.
Both Patterson and Fisher are recognised New Zealand leaders in their respective fields – and part of their design challenge was to create a modern building echoing the grand features of Scotland’s Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rùm.
Patterson’s design work also included one-bedroom suites and a range of luxurious one and two-bedroom villas, with views over the course and out to Lake Taupo. His focus was on ‘harmonising’ the buildings with the magnificent golf course and the wider landscape, and Fisher introduced interior design concepts of wide open internal spaces, huge log fires, window settings framing spellbinding views, and furnished terraces.
This elegance is such a contrast to 2007, when visitors to the then fledgling course found the pro shop and adjoining real-estate company operating out of portable buildings. It was a ‘temporary’ arrangement that lasted longer than anticipated.
Lack of funds to achieve the planned lodge, clubhouse and other facilities meant that for many years the visitor’s first impression of The Kinloch Club was one of incompleteness – a work in progress. There was even a period when rumours of sheep grazing on Nicklaus’s masterpiece, in leaner times.
Resident professional Tom Long, one of the few staff members who have been employed throughout several changes of ownership over the past nine years, has risen above such challenging circumstances to be part of the reinvigorated Kinloch.
New Zealand and international golfers continue to regard it highly. Kinloch shot straight to the top when it opened, and was named in US Travel & Leisure Golf as one of the new top 10 courses. Golf Rankings New Zealand, compiled by professional Andrew Whiley, placed it in the top spot on its inaugural list of 2014. Often at number one in the Australian Golf Digest’s rankings of New Zealand courses, the July 2016 list puts Kinloch in fifth position behind only similarly splendid Tara Iti, Jack’s Point, Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs.
Though not a true links course, Kinloch is often referred to as a mix of ‘links’ and ‘parkland’. Sir Bob Charles said of it: “For those unable to play the great links courses of Scotland, Kinloch compares with the best of them. A true links experience with Jack Nicklaus at his best”.
But it’s the whole experience at The Kinloch Club that sets it apart. The acclaimed restaurant offers an expansive, locally-sourced menu, and the Kinloch Spa specializes in sporting therapeutic and organic wellness treatments.
Kinloch’s marketing arm is working hard to ensure New Zealand and international travellers and golfers are made aware of the many packages on offer. An exceptional golf course with a superb lodge now offers the golfing public a truly magical experience in a unique New Zealand setting.