The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 3
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 3
The third hole is the longest par 3 at the Kinloch Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 11
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 11
The Kinloch Club near Lake Taupo ranks among the best courses in New Zealand. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 10
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 10
The 10th hole at the Kinloch Club starts on an elevated perch. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - bunkers
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The Kinloch Club golf course - bunkers
The 11th hole shows off the incredible bunkers at the Kinloch Club in New Zealand. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 15
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 15
A huge drop-off to the left of the 15th green can lead to high scores at the Kinloch Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 18
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 18
A pond guards the 18th green at the Kinloch Club golf course in New Zealand. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - 5th
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The Kinloch Club golf course - 5th
The par-4 fifth at the Kinloch Club climbs uphill. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - 6th
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The Kinloch Club golf course - 6th
After a blind tee shot, the sixth hole at the Kinloch Club golf course falls to this green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - 8th
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The Kinloch Club golf course - 8th
A split fairway calls for decision time on the eighth hole at the Kinloch Club golf course in New Zealand. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 16
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The Kinloch Club golf course - hole 16
The 16th hole is one of three par 5s on the back nine at the Kinloch Club in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Courtesy of the Kinloch Club
Dunalistair House at The Kinloch Club
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Dunalistair House at The Kinloch Club
The modern four-bedroom Dunalistair House provides accommodations at the Kinloch Club. Courtesy of the Dunalistair House
Dunalistair House fireplace - Kinloch Club
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Dunalistair House fireplace - Kinloch Club
The Dunalistair House at the Kinloch Club offers luxury accommodations for guests. Courtesy of the Dunalistair House

Bring your 'A' game to the Kinloch Club, a Jack Nicklaus gem near Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island

TAUPO, New Zealand -- Jack Nicklaus fell hard for New Zealand many moons ago while playing an exhibition match. He regularly comes back, not to golf, but to fish the country's clear blue lakes and streams.

He left his design mark at the Kinloch Club, a dynamic inland links that opened in 2007 in the heart of the North Island. Golf Digest rated the course no. 76 among its top 100 courses outside of the U.S. in 2012.

Glimpses of Lake Taupo in the distance add beauty to an intoxicating amphitheater of hills surrounding the course. Nicklaus and the rugged terrain teamed up to create, arguably, the toughest track in country from the 6,734-meter tips (roughly 7,364 yards). Disaster lurks for those who don't bring their best. The shaggy bunkers look captivating, although their jagged edges can create some severe lies.

Unlike a true links, Kinloch requires an aerial game to score well. Thick fescue lines the fairways. Some greens must be approached cautiously by dodging trouble in front. Ponds protect the greens of the par-3 third hole and the par-5 18th. Aiming posts attempt to safely guide golfers on blind tee shots at no. 6 and no. 13.

The back nine serves up the always fun combination of three par 3s and three par 5s. Luxury accommodations are on site in the Dunalistair House, a modern four-bedroom home. All these pieces add up to a five-star golf getaway.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Bring your 'A' game to the Kinloch Club, a Jack Nicklaus gem near Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island
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