Awe inspiring locations
Top of the list and lead photograph is that well-known aerial shot of Cape Kidnappers however it’s a bit of a worry when they say, “Cape Kidnappers, a Tom Doak design that opened in 2004, is about an hour from Auckland.”
Really an hour from Auckland? Yes of course it’s possible if you’re mates with Julian Robertson and there’s a helicopter waiting for you at Auckland airport.
However they did get it right when writing, “Golf course architects have capitalized on New Zealand's unique topography by setting courses at incredible, awe-inspiring locations,” and Tara Iti New Zealand’s very latest gets an honourable mention in, “ Other highly-rated courses include Paraparamu Beach Golf Club, The Hills (South Island), Titirangi Golf Club, Clearwater Golf Club (South Island), Wairakei Golf Club, Millbrook Golf Course (South Island) and Tara Iti Golf Course.
North or South Island or?
Last night at Auckland airport I farewelled friends from the UK who had spent a month in New Zealand and once again I received feedback on where to spend most time in New Zealand. I’ve always advised applying the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time in the South Island and the rest of the time; not necessarily just in the North Island.
We are told that, “New Zealand, situated 900 miles east of Australia, is comprised of two islands,” which is of course not true especially when you want to get a taste of the real New Zealand and play rural courses like the one on Stewart Island.
“Five of the best,” and my italicised comments
Cape Kidnappers Golf Club: Opened in 2004, this Tom Doak designed course located about an hour from Auckland, is built on ridge-and-valley landscape. The course plays atop dramatic cliffs with spectacular sea views. It's ranked No. 27 in the world by Golf Magazine.”
Wonderful golf course and nearby Napier is a very interesting city.
“Kauri Cliffs: PGA Tour star Brandt Snedeker has called it "Pebble Beach on steroids." Situated 30 minutes from Auckland, Kauri Cliffs was designed by the late David Harman, an American from Orlando. The photogenic layout has 15 holes with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea.”
If it has to be one or the other (Cape Kidnappers) then Kauri Cliffs is my choice.
Kinloch Club: A Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, it's a stunner set on a piece of farmland on volcanic terrain with craggy hills and views over Lake Taupo. While it’s a long way from the ocean, the course pays homage to great British and Irish links courses.
Note that you’re never far from the ocean in New Zealand.
Kinloch is kinda tough. Try nearby Wairakei which I refer to as the nearest thing to Gleneagles in the Southern hemisphere.
Jack's Point: Located 10 minutes from Queensland, this course is rated by several publications and websites as the No. 1 golf course on the South Island. It's routed through grasslands, rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and native bush.
Make that No. 1 golf course in New Zealand. Book an early tee time and there’s still enough summer sunshine hours to play Queenstown Golf Club aka Kelvin Heights. Or Arrowtown which Tom Doak recently described as, “The North Berwick of New Zealand.”
Gulf Harbour: Offering views across the Waitemata Harbour, this Robert Trent Jones Jr. design has rolling terrain and phenomenal clifftop finishing holes.
Most definitely do play the back nine.
Link to PGA
Quote of the Day
“Golf is embraced and loved by New Zealanders, similar to Scotland and Ireland. It's the highest participation sport in New Zealand and is a way of life, not just a sport.” – pga.com