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  • Writer's pictureChris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley

Torepe Fields Forever!

Today I’m taking a look at South Canterbury’s newest DGC in Temuka, designed and installed by Timaru disc golf stalwart Chris Smith. I drove down for the opening day event on 12th December, and what a properly fun day it was!

Temuka in South Canterbury. Click to zoom the images.

Mr Google says it should take 1-hour and 55-minutes to drive from Christchurch to Temuka, but it took me just 1:35:00 from my driveway, leaving at 8:00am, and without speeding, I must add. Otautahi’s new southern motorway allowing me to reach Rolleston just 18-minutes after my departure. Exclamation Point.

Torepe Fields DGC at its prettiest: The view of Basket 6 after 2 decent throws.

The western edge of Torepe Fields DGC is just 200 metres from State Highway 1 as the crow flies, but you’ll need to venture deep into Temuka Domain, entering adjacent the Police station. The domain features gardens, playground, mini-golf, heated outdoor pool, cricket pavilion, tennis courts, bowling green, and plenty of parking close to the start of the disc golf course.

Fig. 1: Torepe Fields main sign, including nice QR links and the PDGA Players' Code which is important!

A traditional ball golf course lies alongside the north-eastern boundary of the DGC.

Situated just 5.7-klicks from the Pacific Ocean the prevailing summer wind is a sea-breeze of easterly direction. The design appears to be based around this breeze, which tends to change in nature markedly throughout the course due to the massive nature of the trees on the river side of the stopbank. In some cases, you are sheltered from whatever breeze the fairway has when standing on the teepad, and disc selection and nose angle are critical factors in the outcome of these throws.

Kyle's sponsor watches him drain number 18. He went on to set an initial 9-under course record.

The course is sufficiently flat to support wheelchair access, which is a brilliant and important part of the design, as a group of chair users are taking up disc golf in Timaru. This means it's cart-friendly, too, of course.

Please avoid this spot on basket 6!

It’s only around 150 metres away from the Opihi river, but you won’t get a glimpse of it unless you go exploring.

The extremely energetic Mr Smith has done a superb job of using the available space, and in a wonderful show of support, the Temuka council has planted a dozen trees according to Chris’s specific instructions, and more are yet to be planted; is this a first in New Zealand?

And so the quite open and forgiving nature of several holes today will gradually change over time as some mighty totara reach for the sky.

Design Details of Torepe Fields DGC

Before I begin, I need to make mention of my general feeling of Quality Design when I consider Torepe Fields. If I stand on a teepad and I am in something of a quandary about what to throw, and/or which line to attempt, or I feel a little uneasy about my ultimate choice, then it is often due to good hole design.

This is the way I feel on many of Torepe Fields’ tees. So, a job well done, then!

Overall course length is 1,722 metres, which is pleasantly long without asking too much of old dogs like myself, who can easily play two full rounds.

Otautahi's Shane Ripley driving on basket 12, along with local players Jeremy, Dylan, Jacob and Jake.

This is Chris’s first independent design, having been part of the design of West End Park, where he absorbed a big dose of the Vortica course design philosophy along the way… and that philosophy means rewarding and encouraging the participation of newcomers to the game, while offering good challenges to competent players. This means there’s almost no place to properly lose a disc at Torepe Fields, but you might have to be quite dedicated in your searching of the rough until it gets trampled down a bit by local golfers.

The rough in some places is grass up to a metre tall, and liable to eat a disc not carefully watched, and it can even act as natural OB – in that it can easily cost you a stroke. The roughest of the rough is on Hole 7, where the RHBH forces you to throw over a rather nasty area of disc-losing grass and various piles of overgrown weeds and Stuff™ - see below.

Basket 6, looking towards the trouble on Hole 7, at the far right.

This is a course where you will want to use drivers to reach some holes, and there’s an actual Par 5, where skilled throwers may take an eagle after two great drives. Decent but unspectacular play will see you with a birdie there. The holes are laid out in a logical fashion, where each differs from the last, and the distances are challenging in the wind, even though the basket is often sitting right there, in front of you.

There is an elevated teepad on hole 14 placed on top of the stopbank, but this is the only vertical element of the course, and so Christchurch players will feel right at home here.

The teepads are roughened concrete flush with the ground, and slightly smaller than we’re used to, but they perform their job well. Most of the area dedicated to the DGC appears to be seldom used by other park users, and so players should expect not to have to spend much time at all waiting for the public to clear a fairway.

Tee number four: the white stuff is seeds, not snow! White tee posts make finding the next tee easy.

Time required to play the course A group of four decent players should take under 2 hours to complete a round, but this doesn’t include extended search times looking for errant shots. :P

Playing Conditions

The mown areas are park-like, but the grass is fairly non-skippy in many places. The locals will rapidly come to learn what the ground action is like throughout the course, and I can see the locals developing a roller game on this course in the summertime.

Players are recommended to carry an umbrella in sunny conditions and to use plenty of sunscreen as the Temuka sun can be fierce on the open portion of the course.

Timaruvian player, Morgan Bathgate, making a big come-back putt after driving long on basket 4.

Course Equipment

Chris is to be commended for his comprehensive approach to course installation. 18 expertly installed shiny new RPM Helix baskets adorn the park, while the concrete teepads each have a white-painted vertical post for future signs showing each hole’s details. These make finding the next teepad very easy. Two thumbs up.

The main course sign is shown above in Fig. 1, and features the PDGA Player’s Code to inform both players and the public of the etiquette of disc golf.

Jacob with a successfully lofted pitch putt to beat the guardian post on basket 12.

Scoring at Torepe Fields

Par is 59, with 3 par 4s, plus the par 5. And in my second round, I managed a 7-under 52, which I considered acceptable. Vortica’s Kyle Martin managed a 9-under, and set the new course record. A quick add-up shows my best possible round would be 18-under, as I can birdie all the holes. Yeah – riiiiight! :P

You’ll enjoy the variety of hole types, as several of them limit your options, while the open holes are a little reminiscent of Lismore Park in Wanaka; even if you muck up your drive quite badly, you should still get up and down for your par.

But... bogies or even doubles can come thick and fast for those who misjudge the tighter holes or fail to place their drive correctly on 2 of the par 4s, and the par 5.

Basket 1, looking south towards 17 & 18. The two guardian posts actually make ranging it easier!

Disc Golf in Timaru and environs

Timaru district now has three DGCs, and the future there is looking very bright indeed. I predict a number of excellent players will emerge from the region in pretty short order. I’m confident in this prediction as Timaru has a proper Community Course right in the heart of town, and two Destination Courses; one at Caroline Bay, and now Torepe Fields.

But, critically, the two Destination Courses also can be classified as Community Courses by our definition, even though no houses or schools border the location. All three courses are within 17-minutes drive of each other.

Due to these facts, it is now assured disc golf will grow rapidly and strongly in Timaru and South Canterbury. Plus, Tekapo is only just over an hour’s drive away, while Ashburton is only 50 minutes up the road.

Lining up the deceptively tricky basket number one with my Big Jerm-stamped 12x Ken Climo Champion Teebird.

Final Verdict: Temuka is tu meke!

Torepe Fields DGC is worthy of your attendance no matter your level of play, but please take extra care on Holes 7, 13, and 16 not to lose a disc, and use a spotter to prevent a long search after an errant throw.

I believe Torepe Fields is a valuable addition to the game and the sport, and Chris is to be firmly congratulated on his first solo course design and install. The amount of work he has put in is astonishing, and his dedication to growing the game is simply tremendous, and Timaru is very lucky to have him.

We will all soon get to see how the New Zealand Disc Golf National Tour players perform on it at the inaugural Timaru Tūkauati tournament which is to be held over all three regional courses over three days from 28th to the 30th of May 2021.

Thanks, Mr Smith, for the course and the photos. I will be there!

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