Feb 11, 2018

5 Kiwi Courses Make Golf Digest's Top 100 for 2018

We understand awards are subjective in nature. Ranking a "Top 100" golf course is difficult because of factors like accounting for the eye of the beholder and simply having the time (and access) to properly experience a course. As new golf courses come online around the world and older designs are brought back to life/ improved, the competition continues to get more difficult.

That said, we are proud to see New Zealand garner much-deserved accolades in the media lately.

Oh who are we kidding... we are ecstatic!

Our clients for years have understood the "hidden gems" that make New Zealand golf special- like this year's "newcomers" Paraparaumu and Jack's Point. However we would be remiss if we did not mention courses we believe are missing from the list. How can Titirangi nor The Kinloch Club nor Royal Wellington not be on the list? Perhaps the raters from the magazines simply run out of time while in country? Perhaps these remain "hidden gems" for the time being? In any case, below are the recent comments from both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine on a few of those which were included.

The beautiful part is that these courses are in different areas of New Zealand, and our team has the experience to organize an efficient and well-planned trip for you throughout the country. Yes, you can play all of these courses! We caveat that Tara Iti, as a super-exclusive private club, does restrict play and stay to prospective members... but please do not hesitate to contact us and ask how you too can experience truly the best of New Zealand.

Tara Iti (#6 - Golf Digest, #29 - Golf Magazine)

GD: "Built by American designer Tom Doak from what had been a pine-covered Sahara along the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island, it's far more links-like than the country's other coastal courses, most of which are on rock. Doak and design associate Brian Slawnik spent more than two years gently resculpting the sandy soil into hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature. There's lots of sand but no bunkers. Golfers may ground the club anywhere. With holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornoch and Royal St. George's, and views everywhere of the Hauraki Gulf, this may be New Zealand's answer to Pebble Beach's Carmel Bay. The greatest meeting of land and sea is clearly up for debate."

GM: "Tara Iti jumps onto our World list as one of our highest debuting courses ever. The barely two-year-old course is already acknowledged as the Southern Hemisphere's premier links. Its enviable location in the dunes along the Pacific Ocean, along with superior fine-fescue fairways and swirls of natural grass and sand, have some reviewers saying it could host an Open tomorrow—if only it were 11,000 miles farther northwest."

Cape Kidnappers (#17- Golf Digest, #44 - Golf Magazine)

GD: "Not a links, more like a stratospheric Pebble Beach, high atop a windswept plateau some 500 feet above the sea. The 2004 design truly demonstrates the lay-of-the-land philosophy of American architect Tom Doak, who ran holes out and back along a series of ridges perpendicular with the coastline, most framed by deep canyons. The fairways are wide, but Doak rewards bold tee shots that flirt with ravines and sets strategies using some of the deepest bunkers he has ever built. Cape Kidnappers was also the International winner of a 2012 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, co-sponsored by Golf Digest."

GM: "One of the world's Top 10 when it comes to eye-candy views, the back nine in particular at Cape Kidnappers boasts a sequence of staggeringly dramatic holes, starting with the tiny seaside par-3 13th and peaking with the 650-yard, par-5 15th which falls away on both sides of the fairway and which sports a horizon green perched precariously on a bluff overlooking the sea."

Kauri Cliffs (#37- Golf Digest)

GD: "Like Cape Kidnappers 400 miles to the southeast, Kauri Cliffs occupies an old sheep ranch atop an ocean-front plateau laced with canyons. Unlike Kidnappers, the 2000 layout by design-and-build guy Dave Harman of Orlando, has hills of native rough, stands of fern and more forced carries over gorges. The topography allowed Harman to string the seventh and eighth and 14th through 17th holes parallel to the edge of the Pacific, although several hundred feet above it. Sadly, Harman died in 2004 of tongue cancer. Kauri Cliffs was his finest achievement."

Jack's Point (#76 - Golf Digest)

GD: "John Darby, a New Zealand land planner and golf architect, routed Jack's Point from a valley clubhouse up onto a plateau and down again to offer sterling views of Lake Wakatipu and the mile-high Remarkables Mountains. Many have likened Jack's Point opening uphill holes to those of Gullane in Scotland. But Darius Oliver of Golf Digest Australia is less enamored, writing: "Darby decided to attack the hills and get his holes as quickly and as close to the [lake] edge as he possibly could. The result is at times an awkward mix of quite spectacular golf with some difficult uphill and downhill slogs." Our ranking would suggest Oliver's is the minority opinion."

 Paraparaumu Beach GC (#77 - Golf Digest)

GD: "A rare authentic sand-based links in New Zealand, James Watt built the course on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington in two sections, one nine in 1930, the other in 1937. New owners took charge in 1949 and decided to remodel it, hiring Alex Russell, the Australian champion golfer who turned to course design after working with Alister Mackenzie. Russell spent six weeks on the property, reshaping dunes and creating splashy bunkers. Two years later, he returned and altered bunker faces from sand to turf because heavy winds were constantly eroding the steep sand faces. The club has preserved a number of mature trees throughout to act as buffers against wind."

Author: Frank Krieger