We were recently saddened to read of the passing of Julian Robertson- billionaire investment manager and founder of a number of top New Zealand luxury accommodations. While Mr. Robertson certainly affected the lives of those he mentored on Wall Street, the so-called "Tiger Cubs," many will not know how much he did to launch golf tourism in New Zealand.
We are thankful for his efforts, as we too believe that golfing in New Zealand is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the country. Not to mention it's simply great land for golfing!
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Robertson's legacy, and the effect his vision had, even outside of his own properties, should be celebrated. He affected many more people outside of than just those he employed over the years at Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge (Queenstown).
Following Robertson's lead, projects like Jack's Point (Queenstown- 2005), Kinloch Club (Taupo, 2007) and Tara Iti & Te Arai (North Auckland- 2015/2022) further bolstered the country's golf offerings. But it was Mr. Robertson's vision to construct both Kauri Cliffs (2000) and Cape Kidnappers (2004) which truly New Zealand golf on the map. Each of these massive properties not only included beautiful luxury accommodations, but course designs by top architects. More importantly, they highlighted the uniqueness of New Zealand and proved that golf tourism was a viable model for the country.
Prior to Mr. Robertson there were efforts to promote New Zealand golf. Wairakei (Taupo) was built by a government entity in the 1970s to promote tourism in the area. Gulf Harbour (Auckland- 1997) hosted a World Cup of Golf event in the late 90s. Steve Williams even received a favor from Tiger Woods when they visited Paraparaumu (1949) in 2002 to compete in the New Zealand Open. However, we argue that prior to Robertson, New Zealand was not a "bucket list" golf destination.
Yet Mr. Robertson's legacy goes beyond golf. He obviously appreciated New Zealand as a country and recently left incredible pieces of his art collection to the Auckland Art Gallery. We hope that by donating these pieces Mr. Robertson wanted people to disperse to other areas and appreciate all of the different ecosystems that make New Zealand special. Because this is what we try to do as a team as well- bring an appreciation of New Zealand in addition to a great golfing experience.
Photo credit of Julian Robertson at his Kauri Cliffs golf course in 2006. Photographer: John Crawford/Bloomberg