Opened: October 2015 Background:
With the opening of Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers a little over a decade ago, New Zealand golf received a much-needed shot in the arm in terms of its ability to attract the affluent golf tourist. While the country is not short on good courses – Paraparaumu near Wellington is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s finest links, for example – these exceptionally scenic layouts, each with their own luxury accommodation and on-site spas, opened the country up to a new crowd; the type of wellheeled folk who have little issue spending $500 a night and $250 on a round of golf. Tara Iti, which like Cape Kidnappers was designed by the renowned Tom Doak, is the latest addition to New Zealand’s portfolio of courses – and by all accounts, it is an absolute cracker.
Located a 75-minute drive north of Auckland, the course lies hard by the sea on sandy, links-like terrain that has been sculpted and contoured to perfection. The course, which is part of an upmarket property concern, only opened to private play in October 2015 and, unlike Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, doesn’t look to be welcoming those without a member’s invitation any time soon. Tara Iti seems to have all the design characteristics to make it a shoo-in for top-100 course status, so one hopes its visitor policy changes. been routed over and around impressive seaside sand dunes, this par-71 challenge provides a setting and playing experience that is more akin to the great courses of southwest Ireland than tropical Indochina. Given its proximity to the coast, wind is nearly always a factor at The Bluffs, but the course, which also features significant elevation changes throughout, remains highly enjoyable for mere mortals thanks to the generous fairways that Norman and his architects have provided.
The course forms part of the Grand Ho Tram Strip, an ambitious resort and casino complex that includes a fivestar hotel, and it hosted its own Asian Tour event – the $1 million Ho Tram Open – in late 2015.
Green fees from $185. Two hours from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN).