The Hills Golf Course

The Hills delivers a world class golfing experience.
The iron wolves at The Hills golf course. © Copyright Photo:
The Hills was designed by Darby Partners and opened in 2007 to host the New Zealand Open.

Set over 500 acres of land across a glacial valley the layout highlights the dramatic elevation changes and rocky schist outcrops that are a feature of the area.

This championship layout provides a serious challenge for accomplished players while thoughtful and considerate design means that the golf course is equally enjoyable for golfers of all abilities.

The beauty of the courses lakes, waterways and wetland areas are complemented by a stunning array of sculptures. Natural embankments provide excellent vantage points for spectators to view the action.

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Hole-by-Hole Overview
The Hills 1 | Par 5 | 474m/518y

Unless you’re a longer hitter, there is plenty of room left off the tee. The left rough is not too penalising by the pine trees are.

Anyone laying up should be careful to avoid the cross bunkers short of the green. There is nothing to be gained by trying to get close to them.

The green slopes away from you and the easiest miss in short as it leaves a basic chip regardless of the pin position. This green is always one of the fastest on the course.


The Hills 2 | Par 4 | 367m/401y

The left fairway bunker makes an ideal target from the tee. Just pick a club that can’t reach it.

The prevailing wind is into from the right and is always a little stronger than you think. If in doubt, take more club. Putting is always the safest bet from around the green.

The Hills 3 | Par 4 | 369m/404y

The left bunker is not deep, so carrying this is worth attempting even if your chances are only 50/50.

The tussocks that encroach short right of the green are to be avoided.

Chipping from short left of the green is easy to most pins.

This is a difficult green to read so a little extra time to survey your putts.

The Hills 4 | Par 3 | 185m/202y

This is an easier hole than it looks! Balls landing over the bunker short left of the green will kick right and forward onto the green. There is more green over this bunker than there appears so this is by far the safest play.

Anyone brave enough to take the more direct approach needs to make a careful club selection. Being downhill and generally downwind, this shot plays much shorter than you think.

There are three distinct levels on the green. If you end up on the wrong level relative to the pin, focus hard on the pace of your putt. 3-putting is common on this green.

The Hills 5 | Par 4 | 303m/331y

A short hole that demands respect. Tee shots positioned on the left of the fairway provide the best angle for approach. Left rough is better than right fairway. The green is narrowest in the middle, so the target is smaller than it appears.

Take care with your alignment and if anything, err to the left. The right bunkers are bad news. Pitching from the collection areas either side of the green is incredibly difficult. Putting is generally the better play.

The Hills 6 | Par 4 | 382m/418y

Short of the left traps is the best play as it narrows significantly past them. The approach to this green is very demanding so consider laying up left if you have doubts.

The tier in the green can be used to access the front right pin but causes problems when putting up it.

The Hills 7 | Par 3 | 183m/200y

There is a prominent ridge in the middle that divides the green in tow so it’s vital to be on the same side as the pin.

Unusually, when the pin is right, the best miss is right.

Chipping or pitching from this angle allows you to use the slope beyond the pin.

Despite being fast from the back to the front this green is hard to hold with a longer club and shots that reach the green will often release to the back.

The collection area to the left of the green is well below green level and leaves a difficult shot regardless of where the pin is.

The Hills 8 | Par 4 | 459m/502y

A long hole that plays downwind more often than not.

Those that can’t reach the right fairway bunker should keep right off the tee as this makes the hole play considerably shorter.

Most won’t reach this green in regulation and need to position themselves carefully to leave the easiest approach. Laying up further back is often a better option because it’s easier to hold a green containing many subtle breaks.

The Hills 9 | Par 5 | 547m/598y

Hitting it as far as you can is not always the play from this tee. The fairway is very narrow between the tussocks and rock. You are best to play to the widest part of the fairway here and just keep the ball in play.

The fairway bunkers are much further away than you think and should be considered more as targets than hazards.

Regardless of what shot you are playing the deep valley short of the green must be avoided. Even if it means playing a very short lay-up shot.

Front pin positions must be respected, do not be short.

Use the backboard behind the green when the pin is back left. The back right portion of the green is hard to hold.

The Hills 10 | Par 3 | 150m/164y

Played into the prevailing wind, this hole often plays longer than you think.

An easy hold when the pin is on the front of the green. Err to the right because shots that carry the front right bunker will kick hard left towards the pin.

When the pin is back, beware of the back bunkers. Missing in any of them almost always leaves a downhill lie and an incredibly difficult bunker shot.

The putt from front to back is one of the slowest on the course.

The Hills 11 | Par 4 | 395m/432y

Those that can’t reach the green in regulation need to take care with their second shot. The fairway is narrower in the hollow short of the green.

This green has some severe slopes but they make some pin positions very accessible so consider this to a middle pin.

Consider the false front if greens are fast. If you’re not quite up, the ball will roll well back down the fairway.

The Hills 12 | Par 4 | 371m/406y

Decisions, decisions…

Shorter from the right or safer from the left. You’ll need to decide whether it’s worth the risk.

The most dangerous pin position is back right. You would be wise to keep left of this pin.

The Hills 13 | Par 5 | 522m/571y

A fun driving hole but pick your line carefully. The left side offers the shortest route but go too far left and you’ll be severely punished by the long rough.

The right fairway bunkers are not too penalising providing a conservative recovery. The large fairway bunker on the left is well-positioned so don’t be afraid to lay-up short of it.

The difference between a front pin and a back pin is as much as four clubs, so know where the pin is! Consider using the banking on the left of the green to help you as the bunkers right are no fun.

The Hills 14 | Par 4 | 383m/419y

There is much to be gained if you successfully challenge the right fairway bunker. The approach is significantly easier from the top of the hill and beyond.

There are advantageous slopes when approaching this green to consider. At times, the ideal line will not be at the flag so think carefully when planning your approach.

The Hills 15 | Par 4 | 340m/378y

If you can carry the big cross bunker from the tee, this hole presents a great opportunity but take note of the pin position. If the pin is right keep left and vice versa.

Take a little more club than you think you need regardless of whether the pin is front or back. The tier in the middle of the green and the banking at the back can be a great help.

The Hills 16 | Par 3 | 158m/173y

A dangerous par 3.

The prevailing wind is into from the right but aiming right and expecting it to help is risky. When the pin is at the back, miss it long. From here you have a relatively simple chip or putt back up the hill.

The common miss is the swale to the left of the green. Keeping the ball on the ground with a bump-and-run or putt is more likely to be the most successful play from down there. If your ball ends up in the water race and you can’t find it, the current has probably taken it around the corner.

The Hills 17 | Par 5 | 503m/550y

Regarded by most as our signature hole. The brave will keep their tee shots as close to the big fairway bunker as possible and shorten the hole dramatically.

The tendency is for people to get too greedy with their second shots but the further up the canyon you hit it, the narrower it gets. Regardless of what shot you attempt, make sure you commit.

The approach to this green plays much longer than it measures so if anything, club up. Keep a little left to any pin at the back of the green to take advantage of the left-to-right slope. The front right pin has a backboard behind and is guarded by a false front.

The Hills 18 | Par 4 | 433m/474y

A very long hole to finish but thankfully it is nearly always downwind.

The banking right of the fairway will assist shorter hitters and kick the ball to the left but avoid running through the fairway. Longer hitters that stray too far to the right, will end up in the wolves.

The massive bunker protecting the front of the green has ruined many a good round, so consider laying up well short.

Take an extra club and play to the back of the green as there are backboards to assist you.


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