'I have played Onekaka Links a number of times and it has more trouble around the greens than any course I have played, anywhere, in the last 40 years'
- Rodney Barltrop - former NZ amateur champion
'Playing Onekaka is one of golf’s treasures. Period. Not just for the pleasure of playing at one of NZ’s most private courses, or for the spectacular views, or the novel and challenging shots required, but also for the incredible hospitality, the tea breaks, the wonderful company, and the very indulgent food and wine that follows. The whole ambience of a relaxed and refined day well exceeded our expectations, and added up a unique and incredibly pleasurable golfing experience. I whole heartedly commend it to you.'
- Wayne Norrie, RWGC
'A course does not need to be long to be difficult . The 18 complex played on I think 10 greens provide a very stern test for would be golfers. It would be the hardest short course I have played. The 70 m par three 11th is the toughest short hole one could imagine. Many risk and reward holes and if you take the risk option then big numbers are on the cards if you are wayward. Great fun day to play and the hospitality is better than first class.'
- Michael Barltrop
We had a great day .We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed the hospitality. We would love to play the course again now we have seen the "interesting" layout. We will certainly be talking about it for some time and sharing our experience with our golfing friends.
- Betty Newman
'Onekaka is a clever course with stunning views and great hosts. Worth the trip and take lots of balls.'
- David Wallace, Director, Armillary Private Capital
'Considering New Zealand’s golfing landscape there are maybe 10 experiences that should fall into a golfer’s bucket-list – playing Onekaka Links is one of them. Onekaka offers an experience like no other. Internationally renowned – some may argue against this, but it does have such potential with the main reason being it is so New Zealand. A challenge to a player of any level, spectacular in both the views and the lines of play, aspects of quirkiness that test any shot maker, and after golf, the hosts were great company at our barbeque. And we played it on a day the highest winds of the year were recorded along the coast – hence we must return. – John Freer, Boulcott’s Farm Heritage Golf Club'
- John Freer, General Manager, Boulcott's Farm Heritage Golf Club
‘Amazing sea vistas, comparable to the world's best, the article in Pacific Golfer magazine said.
Extreme green locations, eighteen very individual and memorable holes.
More than one strategic option on every tee. A course totally pleasing to the eye.
Exclusive use of the course for a maximum of four people during the day booked to play.
A fee of $100 per person which included drinks and snacks at the end of the round, playing up to six holes in practice prior to the round, golf cart and or electric trundlers, laser distance finder, (which proved invaluable), two course guides (again invaluable), a top up supply of balls after you had lost five and a free round of golf at the very lovely Takaka Golf Club.
Hey it was a no brainer.
It just had to be played.
Well everything they'd said about the course and the day was right but no words could adequately describe the delight, the joy, the anguish and the total thrill of playing this incredible and extraordinarily unique little course.
And each and every one of its 3,234 memorable metres.
A friend and I had just spent a couple of months playing various, mainly rural courses in a journey from the North Island to the South and some of them were more than memorable, not only for the golf they offered but for the wonderful hospitality given so generously and with much pleasure.
So Onekaka was the nineteenth on our bucketlist and over the previous months Chris Castle who with his wife Linda are the hosts and designers of this devilishly fiendish little course and I had spoken often about the forthcoming booking and it was looked forward to with much enthusiasm.
Driving onto the property at Onekaka, not far from the world famous and iconic Mussel Inn where I performed as a Poet, Storyteller and Social Commentator the evening before, is an adventure in itself, and in an eight and a half metre motorhome, it's a drive that needs to be taken sober. On the way, the unsuspecting golfer will pass small areas of mown grass and later you'll learn these areas are in fact Tee boxes. Where you would hit to though might be anybody's guess.
We arrived late in the afternoon, not late enough for Richard the Greenkeeper who met us on the driveway. In his car. There was no question as to who was going to be doing the reversing even though he was towing a trailer laden with firewood from a recently felled gum tree. We met up the next day and not only was he walking funny, he couldn't turn his head. He'd had to reverse about half a kilometer. He harbored no ill feelings and even spoke kindly to me.
Anyway, we had arrived at our much anticipated golfing destination. Chris was quick to welcome us and had us park on the first fairway which is the second also, and we marvelled at the stunning beauty of this golfing gem sitting on the edge of the mighty Tasman Sea. This course was a visual feast. 'Wow' and 'How the Hell' were words and thoughts in our minds as we enjoyed the fruits of the many who had contributed to this masterpiece over the time we spent here. And again later as we relived and reviewed the holes, the tee and pin placings and the audacity of the overall concept. Drinks, beautiful nibbles and ribald conversation ensured and then the next morning we woke to the most gorgeous of sunrises which did indeed herald what was in store for us this day. Richard arrived early and gave the greens a final cut. We felt like golfing royalty as we realised the preparations that were going on were to make our day of golf even more memorable.
The plan was we were going to initially play the first six holes 'just to get a feel' for the course. We being just the two of us. The most folk allowed to play on the course at any one time is four. And it's easy to see why. It's necessary for Chris, who's played the course many hundreds of times, to explain where to hit and the consequences of where the ball may go.
So after a hearty breakfast we were teeing off and the delights or otherwise were in play on the first hole with a very tricky little green that certainly has a mind of it's own. The second green has a lake in the middle of it and in the middle of the lake is a even tinier island... and on to the third... oh yes the third, most of us are used to hitting off from an elevated tee but on this hole the green is up there... way the hell up there. And you can't see it... but Chris indicated the approach shot and the results were totally, well almost totally satisfactory.
By the way, there are nine par threes, eight par fours and one double dogleg par five, the very intimidating seventh. Your tee shot has to carry up up up yes way the hell up there. Just aim for the lamp post... but back to the par four sixth, perhaps THE signature hole. We hit off from a tee up high in the clouds and aim for a speck of green way over there, no, not there dummy, over there, yes over the water and after a look at the card one wonders how you're going to reach that little green, even with high powered binoculars it's difficult to see. Well it wasn't all that good on the practise round but by the time the real game was on I was on the green with my tee shot and was putting for an eagle. Not bad says Chris, Rodney Baltrop is the only person to have done that and he's played the course many times...
This my friends is definitely a 'Risk and Reward course. If you haven't heard of or played 'Target Golf' before, you're in for a quick lesson. Don't worry about your scorecard, Chris, ever the creative accountant will see to that. Just enjoy the wonders of this exciting exhilarating, scary, fiendishly intimidating and uniquely amazing golfing experience. You will play shots you didn't know you were capable of while making sure you keep your footing on the edges of cliffs with the sea pounding to the shore below. This course was designed by a creative genius who wanted to raise the bar and keep lifting it.
We are prone to give courses we play marks out of ten.
Chris and Linda Castle's Onekaka Golf Link Course gets an eleventeen.’
- Keith Levy