New Zealand’s Greatest Courses.

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 New Zealand’s greatest courses, a report from Stuff, by Phil Hamilton that I am happy to pass on, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club is at #2. This is a shortened post version.

Tara Iti Golf Club is the top course in New Zealand.

JOANN DOST/SUPPLIED

Tara Iti Golf Club is the top course in New Zealand.

New Zealand has among the most golf courses per capita in the world but until recently the quality of those courses, apart from a couple of notable exceptions, was pretty ropey.

Most magazine rankings use resistance to scoring as one of their main criteria but we prefer to concentrate on fun. Any mug can make a hard course (just lengthen and sprinkle liberally with water and sand), the real skill is to make a course that is challenging and enjoyable for both average and good golfers.

Instead we focus on the quality of the design and the most important factor – how keen are you to get back out there again?

Tara Iti was designed by renowned American architect Tom Doak.

JOANN DOST/SUPPLIED

Tara Iti was designed by renowned American architect Tom Doak.

 1. Tara Iti 

It is strange that New Zealand, a country with such a large coastline and so many golf clubs, has such a shortage of good links courses. Thankfully, we now have one that ranks with the very best in the world.

High praise indeed but Tara Iti (100 kilometres north of Auckland on the east coast) is already being mentioned in the same breath as Cypress Point by some architecture critics. This is a masterpiece and quite clearly it is New Zealand’s best course by some distance.

2. Paraparaumu 

The treacherous 17th green at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

MARK ALEXANDER

The treacherous 17th green at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

Until Tara Iti opened last year, Paraparaumu had been the country’s best course since it was rebuilt by Alex Russell in 1946.

Although crammed into a relatively small piece of land, Paraparaumu is a masterful example of how best to utilise the humps and bumps of the sand dunes.

The collection of par threes is the equal of any course in New Zealand with the most fearsome this country’s answer to the Postage Stamp, No 16. Just 130m it can ruin a score card with a misjudged tee shot into the small green, benched into a dune, leaving a golfer with few recovery options.

But it’s the par fours that are the real strength here. The eighth, 13th, 15th and 17th are all superb holes and the equal of any in New Zealand. The 17th demands a tee shot over bunkers to get the best angle into an angled green with a brutal drop-off on one side while the short eighth tempts the unwary into the direct route.

The 13th is a burly two-shotter with a drive to another rumpled fairway and then a long second uphill to a green benched into another dune.

An aerial view of Cape Kidnappers.

GETTY IMAGES

An aerial view of Cape Kidnappers.

3. Cape Kidnappers 

Tom Doak’s first course in New Zealand is a stunner. Built high above the ocean on a Te Awanga sheep farm in the Hawke’s Bay, it’s a subtle masterpiece despite the jaw-dropping views.

While it’s the holes along the cliffs that are most often photographed, the inland holes are easily their equal.

The long par-four 12th hole at Titirangi Golf Club.

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The long par-four 12th hole at Titirangi Golf Club.

4. Titirangi 

The only course in New Zealand designed by the greatest course architect, Alister MacKenzie, Auckland’s Titirangi has stood the test of time.

The par threes are superb individually, although one mild criticism is that on some days three out of the four can require the same club.

The 13th, the Wrecker, is one of the best par fives in the country with a semi-blind tee shot across a gully that is used brilliantly through much of the back nine.

5. Kauri Cliffs 

The par-three seventh at Kauri Cliffs, high above the Pacific Ocean.

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The par-three seventh at Kauri Cliffs, high above the Pacific Ocean.

 While the views are spectacular, the problem with cliff-top courses is the high winds that can make them tough without the respite provided by dunes. Sensibly the fairways are wide to allow for this and follow the lay of the land nicely. While being wide, the golfer who can hit to right part of the fairway is rewarded with better angles into the greens.

Impeccably conditioned, this is a fantastic experience although the quality of the holes doesn’t quite measure up to the views.

6. Arrowtown 

The par-three 14th at Arrowtown Golf Club.

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The par-three 14th at Arrowtown Golf Club.

Often under-rated because of it’s lack of length, Arrowtown is a unique course and certainly among the most fun in the country. The high-profile neighbouring courses may get all the publicity but they can’t match the charm of this gem.

The front nine is a delight, with one stand-out hole after another through schist-lined fairways, where driver is usually not the best option.

The back nine is not as good as the front, although it does have some highlights, particularly the par-three 14th and 16th holes, and the 18th is a fitting finish.

7. Jack’s Point 

The par-three 11th at Jack's Point.

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The par-three 11th at Jack’s Point.

Jack’s Point is something of a flawed masterpiece. The course, near Queenstown, looks fantastic and fits the land beautifully. However, in places aesthetics seem to have been favoured over playability and the finish (long par four alongside a lake) could have been lifted from a modern template of resort courses, which is a pity.

The designer, John Darby, has said he likes his courses to look hard and play easy. Well, he got that right on the fine opening hole but the second looks hard and is hard. It’s the first of several uphill holes to plateau greens, a feature that is overdone, although given the hilliness of the course it’s understandable. The second is a good hole, if a bit narrow, but the best of these holes is the glorious 15th which is a version of the classic Cape hole but with a rock wall standing in for the usual lake edge.

The par-five fourth at Royal Wellington is a highlight.

MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ

The par-five fourth at Royal Wellington is a highlight.

8. Royal Wellington 

The course was recently redesigned by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson who have done a wonderful job. It now has some of the most interesting greens in the country and holes to match.

There are a great set of par threes beginning with the third, that has a tremendous green made up of two distinct bowls, with lots of scope for banking shots into difficult pins.

The par fours are equally good with the 299m 14th a highlight with those braving the right-hand hazard rewarded with a better angle into the green.

The Hills Golf Club is a fantastic looking course.

GETTY IMAGES

The Hills Golf Club is a fantastic looking course.

9. The Hills (Arrowtown) 

This is certainly among the most beautiful courses in the world, with the contrasting colours of the grasses and the astonishing sculptures spread along the way. It is a lovely walk and the quality of the holes is good, even if they don’t quite match the surrounds for interest.

The start is solid but unspectacular with the first real highlight the fifth, a delightful short par four with a wicked push-up green that can give the unwary fits.

The back nine builds to a tremendous finish with the highlight a par-five 17th through a canyon, although the 14th and 15th are both also good. The par-three 16th is great fun too, with it’s punishing false front and much of the green hidden from the tee.

10. Kinloch 

The 14th green at Kinloch Club's golf course.

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The 14th green at Kinloch Club golf course.

Kinloch, near Taupo, is a fantastic looking course, full of interest with rumpled fairways, crazy greens and in impeccable condition.

Unfortunately it doesn’t live up to the promise of its appearance. While it has some good holes, with the fourth and fifth the pick of them, too many are over-bunkered.

Despite the over-bunkering, there are stretches of holes that aren’t particularly memorable or, in some cases, memorable for the wrong reasons.

There are also too many forced carries off the tee, particularly for a course that gets its fair share of wind.

While fun to play, you are left with the feeling it could have been a lot better

Qatar Ladies Open. Aditi Wins Back to Back.

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Aditi Ashok, the brilliant teenage rookie from India has now won back to back tournaments, picking up the Qatar Ladies Open, at Doha Golf Club.

Qatar Ladies Open

Aditi Ashok / getty

Aditi carded -3 under par 69 to win the Qatar Ladies Open title with a -15 under par total, and a three shot victory. The 18-year-old now looks set for a glittering career in ladies golf;

“It’s been a great few weeks. I won my home event in the Indian Open, which was my first win. To win back to back events feels really good.”

The first win was special, because I won in India, but I felt I played really well here and had to play well every day and shoot sub-par rounds.”

“I think my game was better this week and obviously to win in the Qatar, the golf course is the same as the men’s, so I know it’s challenging and to win here feels good.”

“It was really difficult at the start because of the rain. Then we stopped for more than an hour and a half and when we got back it was really windy, so that was difficult, but I guess it was the same for everybody. I was trying to hit greens and make pars.”

I think I was playing well through the front nine and got a couple of birdies on seven and eight. After that, I created quite a few chances on the par-5 ninth and tenth.”

“Then, I was short on 14. I did create enough birdie chances but I wasn’t making any.”

“Finally I was able to birdie 16. My goal was to be error free and I made a bogey on 17 but I played consistently well for the most part and made a birdie on 18.”

Caroline Hedwall and Lydia Hall tied for second place at -12 under par, those three shots back of the winner.

 

 

Qatar Ladies Open. Aditi and Nanna Have 54 Hole Lead.

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Indian teenager Aditi Ashok,  and Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark share the 54 hole lead at the Qatar Ladies Open, at Doha Golf Club,

Qatar Ladies Open

Aditi Ashok / getty

Aditi, who is looking for back to back victories here at the Qatar Ladies Open, carded a third round -4 under par 68, to share top spot on the leaderboard with Nanna, both ladies at -12 under par for the competition. Nanna stayed tied on top with her -3 under 69 effort today.

Aditi is happy with her golf, and is hoping to have fun tomorrow;

“It was quite windy in the morning so I knew I had to be sharp with my approaches and I had a few birdie chances which I made, so that start was good.”

“On the back nine, I just didn’t hit as good shots as I was hitting on the front nine and I miscalculated the wind a couple of times as well. I made a lot of putts on the front nine, so I was bound to miss a couple. I finished with a birdie, so it was good.”

“It’s great to be in contention, the week after a win. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing this week. I played with Nanna today and she’s an aggressive player as well, so it will be fun tomorrow.”

Nanna is also happy with her position

“The front nine, I just didn’t hit it close enough so I didn’t give myself the birdie chances I needed.”

“On the back nine, I had a few more chances which I made, so that was good.”

“On 18, it was lucky that my second shot didn’t go into the water. I was just happy that I didn’t have to take a drop. It’s better to be tied for the lead than be one behind, but either is okay.”

Becky Morgan is in third place at -11, her third round -6 under 66 elevating her up the leaderboard, good putting played a part in her success;

“I played well today and got off to a really good start. I dropped a couple late on the front nine and played the back nine really well. I putted well.”

“The last few days I haven’t made many putts from six to 15 feet. I hit some close but I made some good 10 footers.”

“There are a couple of par fives and 16 is a driveable par-4. If you hit the fairway then you’ve got some good scoring opportunities.”

 

CME Group Tour Championship. Shanshan Feng, Fantastic Form.

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Shanshan Feng is in fantastic form as she leads the CME Group Tour Championship after round one in Naples, Florida.

CME Group Tour Championship - Round One : News Photo

Shanshan shot -6 under par 66 in the first round of the  CME Group Tour Championship, to top the leaderboard by one shot;

“Well, I’m normally a pretty good ball-striker, but I’m not one of the longest hitters. For me it would be hard to really stop the balls on these greens.”

 “But, I mean, I think the pin positions are still like reasonable. Like it’s not like maybe three yards over the water or over the bunker. It still gives us room to actually land it in the certain spot and have a birdie chance.”

Second place is shared by Charley Hull and So Yeon Ryu, both at -5 under after their opening rounds of 67.

So Yeon is focusing on every shot;

“So what I learned through that is I just rather more focus to like imagination. You know, just keep imagine how the ball going to fly and what shot I am going to hit instead of where is my hand going to be, my wrist.”

 “So I think you I was really struggle all year this year, but that was the biggest thing I was learn back then. I think that study was really very helpful.”

Charlie is just back from holiday, and is seeking her first LPGA Tour win;

“I always play well when I come back from holidays and stuff as well.”

“Because I don’t play well when I play too many weeks on the course because mentally I’m not there.”

“If I like,  even if I have four weeks off, I would rather have four weeks off than play four, five weeks.”

“Yeah, because when I play too much golf I kind of;  I don’t concentrate. I kind of get; I can’t explain it.” Mentally tired. If I’m back home I’m kind of refreshed.”

There are then seven ladies at -4 under par, and tied for fourth place.

World number one Lydia Ko is at -2 under, with round of 70.

Race

Asia Pacific Seniors Championship. Two PGBC Players Invited.

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New Zealand Golf have named two Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club members who have been chosen to represent New Zealand in the Asia Pacific Seniors Championship, which will be played at the Alabang Country Club in The Philippines this week. Martin Webber and Frank Borren are on their way to play for the title.

We wish Martin and Frank all the best, and play well.alabang-country-club-scorecard

TOTO Japan Classic. Shanshan Wins in a Tight Finish.

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Shanshan Feng wins the TOTO Japan Classic, in a tight finish at Taiheiyo Club Minori Course in Japan, and back to back victories.

TOTO Japan Classix

Shanshan Feng

Shanshan was cruising to victory in the TOTO Japan Classic, teeing off the last with a comfortable three shot advantage at -15 under par. A wayward tee shot put her into the tree’s resulting in a double bogey six, and a one shot win at -13 under par, with a last round -2 under 70.

Shanshan said her recent good form started with her Bronz at the Olympics;

“When I was in Rio I didn’t set any goals but I knew all of the Chinese people would be watching so I made sure that I should be smiling whether I was playing well or not.”

“That really helped, because I think I had other mind sets, so I actually brought out my A-game again.”

“I finished 3rd and got my bronze medal at the Olympics and I really got my confidence back after that so I know that I’m still Shanshan and I can still win.”

Pushing hard all the way was Ha Na Jang, a final round -4 under par 68 getting her close to the leader, and in the end very close, finishing in second place at -12 under.

Tied in third at -10 under par were, best placed home player Kotone Hori, -4 under par 68 today, So Yeon Ryu,-4 under 68, defending champion Sun-Ju Ahn, -2 under 70, and Soo-Yun Kang, -1 under par 71.

 

Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open . Beth Allen Wins.

White Dragon GolfFatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open

Beth Allen, from the USA wins the inaugural  Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dahbi.

 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open

Beth Allen / getty

Beth had a final round -8 under par 64 in the  Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, which equalled the course record, to win the trophy with a total score of -21 under par, a three shot winning margin;

“This is really special. It’s so amazing to win an event that’s taking place for the first time, especially in a place like this that is supporting women in sports.”

“I’m just really happy that I got it done.”

 “Obviously I’ve been playing really well and when I got done yesterday I felt really good and I knew I could do it, so I just tried to make as many birdies as I could today and turns out I made nine! I’m so pleased.”

“I really want to win the order of merit and I certainly think today helped. I love this course. I immediately thought, ‘wow’, I think I can shoot some low numbers around here.”

“The course is fantastic and we’ve been treated so well. I was feeling really relaxed and having such a great week.”

“It really helped me play well. I’ll certainly be coming back over and over and over.”

Georgia Hall finished second at -18 under par, -3 under 69 not good enough today;

“I played really well on the front nine and got to five-under but one of my bogeys was a bad mistake.”

“The other one wasn’t bad, I was trying to carry the bunker and I hit my drive so low that it plugged into it when it came down, so that was another bogey.”

“Without them, I probably could have caught Beth but I had no idea what score she was on.”

Melissa Reid and Sarah Kemp shared third place at -17 under par.