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.

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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

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

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. Fairway Watering Upgrade

White Dragon Golf Very happy to pass on the report from the General Manager of the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, Leo Barber, of the upgrade to fairway the watering system. If you enjoyed playing here before, next summer will be a real treat.

It is only fair to also report that Leo himself has devote many hours of hard labor to this project.

Irrigation Upgrade, Progress Report

We have enjoyed a great week with good support from our volunteers and accordingly have completed the majority of the planned

work with sprinklers and mainlines installed to 6, 7, 13 and 15 and other associated connections complete. With the surplus pipe

from our planned work, we intend to continue the mainline around to the 12th fairway where it will terminate awaiting the next stage.

Testing and flushing of the lines will be undertaken next week and a couple of minor tidy ups.

The finishing touches being applied to the 13th fairway by staff and the many volunteers

Kevin Smith, Wins Wellington Sports Person Coach of the Year.

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Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

PGA Professional and Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club member, golf coach Kevin Smith,  has the won the Wellington Sports Person Coach of the Year award.

 

 

 

Kevin is a high performance coach who has worked with many of the really top golfers over some years.

He is also passionate about growing and supporting the game of golf at all levels .Kevin has a unique approach to his craft, using his method of  people first approach to coaching.

Kevin is a very good coach and dedicated coach, as many members of Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, and other local clubs where he also teaches, will gladly tell you, and will recommend  his personal approach to easy learning, of golf drills to improve your game.

Contact Kevin if you need advice on how to improve your game, or indeed if  you are a beginner: kevinsmithgolf@xtra.co.nz.

Would be great if you just wanted to email him Congrats.

Captain v President Tournament at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

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Captain v President tournament, is the highlight of the men’s golfing program at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, where the 24 qualifiers play “par” for the overall winner. This event is played over the week-end, and the overall winner this year was Brent Hartridge, who to our delight uses a White Dragon Putter.

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club

Brent Hartridge and winners Cup. On the left is Club Captain Glen Mitchell, with President Paul De Bernardo in the middle.

Congratulations to Brent, who claimed the title of 2015 Capt v President Champion , and with it the coveted Sam Frankpitt Cup, with an inspiring +5 Sunday Par round, we hope he has many more wins in store for next year.

Second place went to Paul Wronski and in third place was Brett Smith, after a hotly contested five-way playoff.

Brett also claimed the top qualifying spot on the Saturday and the Alick Loveridge Salver with the best Nett.

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club

President Paul De Bernardo, Brett Smith and Club Captain Glenn Mitchell.

Captains team V Presidents team competition, the winning team is awarded the Ido De Bernardo Trophy, and the Presidents Team won again, so Paul gets the trophy which was donated by his father.

Stevie Williams on Lydia, Tiger and Adam.

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On Tuesday night White Dragon Golf attended an evening with the Worlds number one caddie Stevie Williams, at his home club, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, the event was also supported by Paper Plus, the premier book shop in Paraparaumu.

One of the first questions he was asked was about the phenomenal rise of New Zealand’s lady wonder Lydia Ko, who currently sits at the top of the Rolex World Rankings.

Leo Barber, the General Manager of Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club asked the question  about Lydia; here is what Stevie had to say;

Affable sports interviewer for this event, Matt Buck, then quizzed Steve about his relationship with Adam Scott. One fact we should all know is that when Steve signs a contract with a player, in that contract there is a clause requiring that the player will come and play at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

Tiger was brought to the Param golf club to honor that agreement, in 2002, to participate in the New Zealand Open.

Adam Scott will grace our links in the near future, it would be great if that were also a New Zealand Open.

There was a lot of controversy about some of the things Stevie said about his book, Out of the Rough, about his relationship with Tiger Woods, but on the night he was full  of praise for the best golfer in the world;

 

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Par three 2nd Green, and 3rd hole White tee. The Pine forest to the right has now been removed.

 

Greenkeepers view of Chambers Bay Greens.

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Mr Leo Barber is the General Manager of Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, and has long been renowned as the top Greenkeeper in New Zealand.

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club

Leo Barber

Below is his professional assessment of the Chambers Bay greens, and the mistake that had been made in trying to mould two very different grasses together;

“It is not in doubt in my opinion that the greens were indeed of questionable composition and therefore rolled less than ideally.

Fescue greens are a completely different animal, beautiful to putt on in their own right but add the sometimes dreaded

Poa Annua into the mix and you have a diabolical collaboration between two grasses that thrive at different ends of the spectrum.

One grass needs to be cut low and worked vigorously to produce a good surface and the other cut higher and finessed.

It was always going to be a difficult task for the Superintendent brought in to address the growing concerns, only a couple

of years prior to the event, and even more difficult when that Superintendent lost control of his tools as happens in major

events, with the governing body taking over, and in this instance a governing body that had a strong desire to push the

agronomical boundaries.”

So you have to ask yourself, why did they do it ?