Why it's time to put New Zealand on your bucket listApril 24, 2019 Courses and Travel
A world-class golf destination in Auckland, Dundonald's new owners, and Turnberry's tweaks. Chris Bertram wraps up the month's course news
Golf in New Zealand moves to next level
The course in the pictures above and below this sentence is Tara Iti, and we are guessing it makes you absolutely desperate to play it. Us too.
The bad news is it’s a long way away – in New Zealand to be exact – and the even worse news is it’s owned by a very private club.
But here’s some good news: the American billionaire who owns it is going to spend $50 million – around £26m – to build two more courses near it. And they will be open to the public.
All three of Ric Kayne’s courses will play along a beach facing Little Barrier Island and the Hen and Chicken Islands, with Tom Doak adding a second course to his original one at Tara Iti and Coore-Crenshaw building the third.
You’d like to think paying to play the two new courses might in time give an opportunity to play the original too, and – along with Cape Kidknappers, Kauri Cliffs and Paraparaumu Beach – that would make the trip to New Zealand very much worthwhile.
A new course on Arran?
We are massive fans of Arran, in every sense. The tiny island has a hilariously large number of courses, led by 12-hole Shiskine but backed up lots of other spectacular venues such as Corrie and Lamlash.
It genuinely is an absolute treasure trove of breathtaking holiday golf.
That number could be set to increase, with a new course mooted for the Machrie Bay area. The existing course there is another of the picturesque layouts, and includes some fun seaside holes.
An eighth course on Arran is an exciting prospect even if the hard-headed among us wonder if it would ever have sufficient visitors to justify the £20m outlay and thus the return on capital that the investors would require. Let’s hope so!
A busy month for Aussie architect
The reputation of Tim Lobb, who set up Lobb & Associates in 2016 out of the Thomson, Perrett and Lobb firm following the retirement of Australian legend Peter Thomson, continue to grow.
The Australian was in Cairo this month to watch the pros of the Alps Tour play the NewGiza course he designed – it comes under the TPL banner because he started it in the 2000s – and we can confirm it is an instant classic.
Closer to home, he was engaged by Tandridge in Surrey, the latest heathland he is advising having already got the three Ws, St George’s Hill and The Berkshire in his portfolio.
And he was also in Ayrshire for a first look at Dundonald, which he has inherited as a result of his connection with the links’ new owners Darwin Escapes.
No major work is planned at this stage and original designer Kyle Phillips is also still involved.
Turnberry keeps tweaking
Turnberry‘s two outstanding par 3s around the iconic lighthouse have been adjusted in an attempt to increase their forgiveness.
The green of the 9th hole – formerly a par 4 and which plays right alongside the lighthouse – has been raised slightly.
Meanwhile the 11th’s green site was extended by rough vegetation being removed to expose natural sand areas and rocky outcrops, with a new greenside bunker also added.
The changes were made after it became a regular occurrence in summer on firm, fast surfaces for good shots to run through the green rather than hold it.
The burn at the superb two-shot 16th hole has also been altered to be more aesthetically pleasing, if not quite offering the enjoyably rugged and natural element of the old one.