Knight’s ‘walk in the farm’

Natural look: The Hills general manager Brendan Allen on the stunning site of proposed nine-hole golf course

Sir Michael Hill is seeking planning approval for a nine-hole, par-three golf course near Arrowtown that will be unlike any other in the Wakatipu.

South of The Hills’ 18-holer, The Hills Farm Short Course – designed by world-renowned Planet Golfauthor Darius Oliver – will utilise the topography of the existing farmland, including the Arrow irrigation water race.

It will also have spectacular, sweeping views across to Lake Hayes and the Remarkables mountain range.

Hill, who opened his championship course 10 years ago, was inspired by the par-three nine-holer alongside the famous Augusta National Golf Club course in the United States.

He says his aim is “to build the best par-three course possible”.

“The design is truly superb – so natural, so pure, without barely touching the natural contours of the landscape.

“Frankly, I have never seen a better piece of land for such a course, and neither has the architect we have employed.”

Earthworks will only be required in the tee and green areas.

The Hills general manager Brendan Allen says there won’t be fairways as such – the natural grass between tees and greens will just be cut to golf course rather than paddock height.

There won’t be bunkers, either.

“Our overriding concept is a walk in the farm,” Allen says.

“You happen to be carrying your golf club and hitting golf balls, but you’re walking alongside the [water] race and wandering around in a farm paddock.”

In a couple of spots, a golfer might even be surprised by a cow’s head popping up over a ridge.

Allen says the links-style course is designed to be played by either eight-year-olds or 80-year-olds, as well as scratch golfers.

Holes range from about 80 metres to 180m long, though there’ll be no defined tee markers.

However Allen says the greens – including a double green for the first and eighth holes – will be exceptional.

The course will only be open to members of The Hills and their guests.

But it’s also likely to be used for charity tournaments.

And with The Hills co-hosting the annual NZ Open, it could be used for a pre-tournament shoot-out – in the same way Augusta’s short course hosts a televised par-three contest before the US Masters each year.

If Hill’s company Trojan Helmet receives a council resource consent within the next two or three months, Allen says the course will be constructed from this winter through to next summer.

It would then be completed by about April next year, ready for a soft opening six months later.