Oreti Sands - Next stop Antarctica!
Oreti Sands is the southernmost links in the world and is every bit as raw and authentic as that description implies. Set in the wild dunes along the South Islands southern coast one really does get the feeling that it’s next stop Antarctica (there are many days when the locals joke that you can smell the penguin poo!).
There is nothing remotely pretentious about Oreti Sands. Hewn from the dunes and lupins by hardy locals in the late 60’s the course has benefited from some addition and renovation by Greg Turners design company in the early 21st century. This is raw links at its very best albeit maintained with a decidedly modest maintenance budget. If you’ve enjoyed golf in the north of Scotland or the west of Ireland there will be much about the challenge at Oreti you’ll find compelling.
The original course was laid out by Sloan Morpeth albeit he passed away before its completion. Greg Turner then led the charge for additions and modifications and the result is as authentic a links experience as you’ll find outside of the UK and Ireland. Like many true links, the extent of the challenge relates directly to the weather conditions, so if you are anything other than a hardy soul check the forecast before you head down! The greens are generally large and fairways generous but, on many occasions, a wild shot may never be seen again.
Unusually for a true links there are a few holes where pine trees play a part (notably 7, 8 and 15) and also where a natural wetland area intervenes (16 and 17). But this variety doesn’t for a moment imply this is not a true links in every way.
Condition wise don’t be expecting pristine. The club operates on a very modest budget and relies heavily on volunteer labour to supplement the work of the green keeper. But this is not golf that requires perfect lies and fast greens, so while placing is usually required on the fairways and the greens are generally true rather than speedy; neither circumstance overly detracts from the experience.
Only the very skilled and brave should contemplate the back tees!
The 4th, 5th and 7th holes are all wonderful examples and the driveable 16th and par three 17th are both exciting and daunting at the same time.
Rudimentary would probably be the most appropriate term. The clubhouse and locker room are ramshackle affairs, there are a few carts but you’ll need to arrange them in advance.
An honesty box is the likely means by which to pay your modest green fee.
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit to Oreti as long as you are comfortable with rudimentary facilities and variable course conditions. If possible allow yourself some flexibility to pick your day according to the weather