A secret no longer, New Zealand delivers spectacular golf

The 7th hole at Kauri Cliffs delivers a stiff challenge and a stunning view.

Lydia Ko won her 15th tournament on the LPGA Tour earlier this year, pushing her career earnings near $10 million. Just 21 years old, she’s already traveled around the globe competing in amateur and professional golf championships. She remains captivated by the phenomenal cast of courses in her homeland.

“New Zealand is simply an amazing golf destination,” Ko said. “It has some of the best golf courses I have ever played. It should be a must-visit place for golfers from all over the world. You won’t be disappointed.”

Perhaps there was a time when the beautiful country of 4.7 million people across two islands tucked in the South Pacific was a hidden destination for international golf travelers.  The secret, however, has been revealed over the last two decades as New Zealand enjoyed a barrage of dramatic, spectacular courses certain to create indelible memories and eager returns.

PerryGolf is thrilled to take travelers to this magical land. The 2020 New Zealand, Tasmania & Sydney Golf Cruise is certain to sell out and includes several of the finest courses in New Zealand, which features roughly 400 courses. Golf is the most popular recreation for male and female Kiwis. After a week or so down there, you’ll understand the source of their fierce attraction to the game.

Tara Iti

PerryGolf president and co-founder Gordon Dalgleish visited Tara Iti in 2016 shortly after the mystical course opened and walked away impressed that architect Tom Doak created a world class seaside links on what was a dense pine forest. The first course in New Zealand with fescue grass on the fairways, Tara Iti plays firm and fast with no rough. Bunkers border the fairways which are mown a similar height as the greens. Approach and recovery shots provide myriad options for playing shots along the ground and allowing the contours to feed the ball to the hole.

One interesting shot after another is presented throughout the round at Tara Iti, which catapulted into the Golf Magazine Top 100 in 2017, making its debut at No. 29.

Cape Kidnappers

Located on the southern end of the North Island overlooking Hawke’s Bay in the New Zealand wine country, Cape Kidnappers was born from owner Julian Robertson’s affection for Pacific Dunes on the Oregon coast. After playing that course with his son, he sought out its architect, Doak, to design Cape Kidnappers along 2,600 yards of shoreline. The course opened to guests in 2004 and instantly shot near the top of the country’s rankings.

“We were deliberately subtle with our architecture as there was no way in the world to compete with the surrounding beauty,” Doak said.

Avoid the bunkers at any cost at Cape Kidnappers. On land of devoid of trees and essentially free of water hazards other than the obvious cliffs and ocean below, the bunkers are deep and penal.

Doak used the greens at Garden City Golf Club on Long Island as a model, devising the slopes in harmony with the natural rolling characteristics of the land. The par-4 No. 14, measures only 350 yards from the back tees but the green will remind visitors of the Road Hole No. 17 at The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Enjoy the remote setting as you pass a sheep and cattle station heading to the pro shop.

PerryGolf Escorted Tours are a great way to Play the Game. See the World.

Kauri Cliffs

“A designer can always make a golf course too hard,” Kauri Cliffs architect David Harman said in 2003. “He can add more bunkers, more walls, whatever he dreams up. The true test is whether or not he can use what Mother Nature gave him and turn it into something like what you see here.”

Kauri Cliffs was truly Harman’s masterpiece. He made 46 trips from his home in Florida to this property that neighbors Cape Kidnappers but was the first to open in 2001. He made the aforementioned comment to legendary golf commentator Jack Whitaker in 2003 when Fred Couples and Michael Campbell competed in a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match at the course (watch below).

Sadly, Harman succumbed to cancer in 2004. But his legacy lives on in this magnificent setting which offers breathtaking views of the Cavalli Islands and Matauri Bay. 

Swirling, gusting winds make the course play differently from hour-to-hour. Yardages are only a suggestion. Downwind, par-5s can be reached with a mid-iron second shot. Into the wind, they are unreachable in three. With options ranging from 4,900 to 7,100 yards, finding the appropriate teeing ground is imperative to maximize enjoyment.   

Risk / reward holes dot the property. But be careful. You won’t soon forget the par-3, No. 7.

Jack’s Point

Located 20 miles from Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the championship golf course at Jack’s Point is just one piece of an idyllic escape offering hiking and mountain biking trails and pure serenity.

The course, designed by John Darby and opened in 2008, sits atop sharp bluffs overlooking the lake and meanders through the wetlands and rocky hillside. Many experts consider it the best on the South Island. Created with minimal excavation, it fits naturally into the landscape and measures 6,986 yards with a par of 72 from the championship tees.

The tee shot at the downhill par-3 7th is remarkable (add an ‘s’ and you have the name of the mountain range in clear view throughout the course). Golfers fire toward a infinity green with the crystal blue waters of the lake as the backdrop.

While that quartet is outstanding, it’s not as if they’re the only excellent options available in New Zealand. The layouts are diverse and demanding.

Breezes blow tall at Paraparaumu Beach, 45 miles north of Wellington, where Tiger Woods competed in the 2002 New Zealand Open – for a hefty appearance fee rumored to be four times the size of the purse. The Kinloch Club is the first (and only) Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in New Zealand, carved through farmland on volcanic terrain. The Hills is another Darby creation which has played host to the national championship on multiple occasions. Royal Wellington dates to 1895 and is like ‘playing golf in an Arboretum’ according to architect Greg Turner, who redesigned the course in 2013. And Wairakei is a parkland favorite near beautiful Lake Taupo on the North Island.

 

Countdown to the Ryder Cup accelerates as team rosters take form

Expect to see the team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth often during the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. They won five of a possible seven points as partners in 2014 and 2016.

We’re three weeks away from the Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between the United States and Europe. The U.S. leads the all-time series 26-13 and holds the Cup after winning in convincing fashion at Hazeltine in 2016.

We’re counting down the days until the opening tee shot, no doubt.

Recent history, however, favors Europe, which has won the last five matches held on its home soil. The U.S. last won in Europe, in 1993, at The Belfry when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were less than a year old.

Le Golf National is the host course for the matches, which head to France for the first time.

PerryGolf is thrilled to offer a fully managed Escorted Tour to Southwest France in September, 2019. Guests will enjoy five rounds and four wine tastings during this 11-Night journey through the Bordeaux and Biarritz regions. While France might not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a golf trip, the presence of this year’s Ryder Cup proves the country is rapidly growing in appeal and opportunity. Medoc Les Chateaux is a terrific links inspired design offered on this Escorted Tour while Saint Emilion is a recent addition, yet another polished gem from the creative genius of Tom Doak (Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers).

Indulge in the rich gastronomy and exquisite wines of Bordeaux, enjoy the refined sophistication of elegant Biarritz, tour Saint Jean de Luz, a noteworthy tourist destination since the early 19th century.

As it pertains to the upcoming Ryder Cup matches, he 12-man roster for each team is rounding into shape. Both teams are stacked. Anticipation always surges in the days prior to the Ryder Cup, still expert analysts feel these could be some of the best matches ever. Earlier this week, NBC Sports golf analyst Mark Rolfing told Sirius XM PGA Tour radio hosts Brian Katrek and John Maginnes that the 2016 Ryder Cup was the greatest sporting event he’s ever covered or attended, including several Super Bowls and other major spectacles around the globe. No one would be surprised if these evenly matched teams in 2018 surpass that lofty mark.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk made three of his four picks Tuesday afternoon and there were no surprises as he selected Ryder Cup rookie Bryson DeChambeau, winner of consecutive FedEx Cup Playoffs events, and wily veterans Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The American legends have combined to appear in 18 Ryder Cups, participating in 78 matches.

Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn also added experience with his four selections on Wednesday. He selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey – who bring a wealth of winning memories in their combined 19 appearances.

Poulter has played well over the last year and has a phenomenal Ryder Cup record, including victories in 12 of 18 matches and a perfect singles record. Garcia has struggled this season but is on the record calling the Ryder Cup his favorite event. He’s claimed 22 points in eight appearances during which he’s been on the winning side five times.

Furyk has one final selection to make after this week’s BMW Championship at Aronimink, outside Philadelphia. While the soon-to-be 29-year-old bomber Tony Finau appears to be the leading candidate, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele or Brandt Snedeker could play their way into consideration with a victory this weekend. 

Of course, the Ryder Cup has been contested throughout Europe over the last decade as the European Tour has shown the wisdom and foresight to expose an array of nations to the exciting matches in an effort to enhance interest and grow the game.

PerryGolf can take you and your favorite golfing partners to walk the same fairways and greens where matches have been decided, cups won and champagne-soaked celebrations spilled deep into the night.

Our 2019 British Isles Golf Cruise includes attendance to the final round of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, and also a round at the K Club Palmer Course, site of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in 2006. The Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course, which played host to Europe’s convincing 16.5 to 11.5 romp in 2014 is a popular selection on any of our Custom Tours to Scotland.

The dramatic finish at Valderrama was the ideal setting for the 1997 Ryder Cup when the late Seve Ballesteros captained Team Europe to victory over an American squad that included a rookie named Tiger Woods. Perhaps no golfer is more synonymous with the Ryder Cup than the fiery Spaniard. His presence, when the team expanded to include all of continental Europe in the late 1970s, helped elevate the matches to the worldwide status they enjoy today. Ballesteros and fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal, known as the Spanish Armada, breezed to an 11-2 record in their fourball and foursomes matches. Valderrama is a staple on PerryGolf’s many Cruises to the region, including the 13-Night Spain, Portugal & France Golf Cruise in late May / early June 2020.   

Reflections of Great Golf in Australia

Cape Wickham Links - King Island - PerryGolf.com
Cape Wickham Links - King Island
 
For a variety of very positive reasons, golf in Australia is enjoying heightened profile. While the country is home to unquestionably some of the true classics of the game such as Royal Melbourne, New South Wales and Kingston Heath; recent activity only serves to further enhance Australia as one of the world’s great golf destinations…worthy of a seat in the premier league.
Read more “Reflections of Great Golf in Australia”

Tara Iti Golf Club, Mangawhai, New Zealand

Tara Iti Golf Club, New Zealand - No. 17 - Photo by Gary Lisbon
Tara Iti Golf Club, New Zealand - No. 17 - Photo by Gary Lisbon
 
High expectations can often be dangerous when visiting a new restaurant, hotel or golf course.
In this case I recently had the occasion to play at Tara Iti Golf Club on the North Island of New Zealand
Read more “Tara Iti Golf Club, Mangawhai, New Zealand”

Tom Doak & Cape Kidnappers Make New Zealand Golf Vacations

Tom Doak's Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand

On the course’s 10th anniversary, American golf architect Tom Doak has done a podcast discussing Cape Kidnappers, a spectacular layout in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Read more “Tom Doak & Cape Kidnappers Make New Zealand Golf Vacations”