GOLF

Go Travel New Zealand - - Contents - BySteveKhatib

Iar­rived in Auck­land for a Kiwi golf­ing get­away and a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the charms of New Zealand’s big­gest city. I checked into my ho­tel in down­town Auck­land and headed for For­mosa Coun­try Club.

For­mosa is a stun­ning re­sort golf­ing com­plex ap­prox­i­mately thirty min­utes drive from the city cen­tre. For­mosa in­cludes an eigh­teen hole golf course, driv­ing range, gym­na­sium, restau­rant, cor­po­rate func­tion fa­cil­i­ties and lux­ury on course villa accommodation.

The re­sort it­self is set in beach lands atop cliff side ter­rain scat­tered with palm trees and the panoramic views of Wai­heke Is­land and The Hau­raki Gulf are sim­ply breath­tak­ing. I was pleas­antly greeted by the staff and de­cided to warm up on their world class prac­tice fa­cil­ity to iron out my swing prior to tack­ling the 6600 me­tre Cham­pi­onship Sir Bob Charles de­signed course mod­elled on Augusta Na­tional. The course has been host to many ma­jor tour­na­ments over the years in­clud­ing sev­eral New Zealand Opens.

I teed off and I im­me­di­ately recog­nised the need to al­low for the wind in my shot se­lec­tion as my ap­proach to the first green came up short. The open For­mosa lay­out can be de­cep­tive and hit­ting shots at the cor­rect tra­jec­tory to com­pli­ment the breeze is es­sen­tial to good scor­ing.

The front nine was a pleas­ant chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, how­ever noth­ing could pre­pare me for the cliff top stretch of holes start­ing at the par three eleventh a mid length hole that re­quired me to punch a long iron into the breeze to find the green. The very next hole was def­i­nitely my favourite; a long par five dog­leg right with a waste bunker that runs all the way down the left hand side of the fair­way. I made sure that I didn’t try to 2cut the dog­leg too fine and played safe down the left side to make my par. The par three fif­teenth is a stun­ning short hole that also has a great ocean back­drop; a well cal­cu­lated club se­lec­tion is also re­quired here to avoid the im­pend­ing. Af­ter bo­gies at the next two holes I con­cluded my round with some redemp­tion hol­ing a tricky twen­ty­five footer for birdie on the last green. As dif­fi­cult as the course may seem due to the chal­lenge of wind, sand and wa­ter, the quick slop­ing greens are cer­tainly de­cep­tive and a sub­tle chal­lenge to leave your­self an up­hill putt.

Af­ter a very tough day play­ing an in­spir­ing lay­out a took the op­por­tu­nity to have a de­light­ful meal in the club­house and look­out over the course re­count­ing my round again in my head as golfers all

seem to do. For­mosa was a great start to my Auck­land swing!

The next day I trav­elled fif­teen min­utes north of Auck­land over the har­bour bridge for break­fast in the costal sub­urb of Camp­bells Bay. Then I was off to play Pupuke, a won­der­ful park­land course set amongst un­du­lat­ing costal bush­land in the Cen­ten­nial Park­lands.

Founded in 1914 the course is nearly one hun­dred years strong and from the mo­ment I ar­rived at the club its hos­pi­tal­ity was over­whelm­ing. I was paired with a re­ally fun group of mem­bers that told me all about the his­tory of their club and also as­sisted me in us­ing my driver spar­ingly dur­ing the round. Pupuke is not a long course by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, although the real chal­lenge is its un­du­la­tions and any in­ac­cu­rate drive can roll into thick bush­land. I strongly rec­om­mend this course a must play if you are vis­it­ing Auck­land and the views of the Hau­raki Gulf.

With the af­ter­noon in front of me I down back through Auck­land to the Waitakere Ranges twenty min­utes to the south west of the city to play one a course de­signed by one of my favourite golf course ar­chi­tects Dr. Alis­tair McKen­zie. Yes! Ti­ti­rangi is only course in New Zealand to be de­signed by the good doc­tor, who also de­signed Royal Mel­bourne, Cy­press Point and of course Augusta Na­tional.

Keep­ing with the en­vi­ron­ment, a McKen­zie de­sign trait, the par 70 cham­pi­onship course is gen­tling un­du­lat­ing set amongst nat­u­ral bush­land and is tough but fair re­ward­ing good shot mak­ing but also pun­ish­ing way­ward ap­proaches; with deep bunker­ing and trees strate­gi­cally po­si­tioned trees. My favourite hole is the par three eleventh hole, which re­quires a care­fully played tee shot over a val­ley to a green that slopes from front to back guarded by bunkers. Any Dr. Alis­tair McKen­zie course will sat­isfy me to play any­where in the world but Ti­ti­rangi was a real treat!

Af­ter a ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some of Auck­land’s much pro­claimed night life at Viaduct Har­bour, I was a lit­tle dusty the next morn­ing so I de­cided to take a cart around Gulf Har­bour course. North of Auck­land Gulf Har­bour is an un­du­lat­ing course with a mod­er­ately in­ter­est­ing front nine holes. How­ever, when I reached the back nine I knew was at an­other fan­tas­tic Auck­land re­gion Kiwi golf course with some of the most spec­tac­u­lar views com­pli­mented by chal­leng­ing mag­nif­i­cently de­sign holes. The back nine makes its way down to the beach and it is here where the costal stretch of holes be­gins.

I re­ally en­joyed the par four twelfth hole, which is a clas­sic short par four that I drove near the green a pitched and putted for birdie. The fi­nal four holes re­ally do make a great cul­mi­na­tion to your round. It all starts at the down­hill par three fif­teenth which has the Pa­cific Ocean as a back­drop. I did not find the long par four six­teenth hole easy at all

though, although I don’t think I would be the only golfer that has dou­ble bo­geyed this hole. I did re­deem my­self on the last two holes with a birdie and par fin­ish. The eigh­teenth hole is a down­hill par four with a unique dou­ble fair­way shared with the first hole and has views of town from the tee. The views from the course at Gulf Har­bour were cer­tainly spec­tac­u­lar and the back nine has one of the best fin­ish­ing stretches to a course I have ever played.

My fi­nal round in Auck­land was back at Pukekohe, a quaint park­land course I played at a year ago and re­ally en­joyed, so I thought I would head back to see if I could bet­ter my ef­forts of last year. The course re­ally gives you a feel of the land of the long white cloud as it is set amongst rolling farm­land with a va­ri­ety of es­tab­lished trees and ponds set­ting the chal­lenge for golfers like my­self who may be a bit am­bi­tious.

I re­ally en­joyed the par three fourth hole over a pond to a small green, ac­cu­racy is placed at a pre­mium here. The unique fin­ish of two par five holes back to back is an in­ter­est­ing way to end your round at Pukekohe, the eigh­teenth hole is a gem with a Karaka Road guard­ing the right hand side of the green; hav­ing played the course be­fore though I man­aged to keep my sec­ond shot well to the left hand side. The hos­pi­tal­ity that I ex­pe­ri­enced at ‘Puke’ last year was just as warm as I ven­tured into the club­house for a beer and a laugh with the mem­bers.

I left Auck­land air­port on my Jet­star flight bound for Mel­bourne, with thoughts of how much fun I had in Auck­land with not too much time spent driv­ing and how each course was so scenic in its own unique way. I can’t wait to get back to in a few months to play some of the course I had heard about from the lo­cals but had not had a chance to play!

Steve Khatib founder of Golf Dy­nam­ics is an in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected author­ity on all mat­ters golf, ow­ing to his af­fil­i­a­tions through many years spent with the worlds lead­ing golf minds in the USA. Steve presents sev­eral pop­u­lar ra­dio and tele­vi­sion pro­grams through­out Aus­tralia and has been awarded PGA Teacher of the Year, PGA AAA Spe­cialiast Coach and Mas­ter Club­fit­ter ac­cred­i­ta­tions.

8th For­mosa

12th Ti­ti­rangi

10th For­mosa

14th Ti­ti­rangi

16th For­mosa

16th For­mosa

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