Seventeen years have passed since Tiger Woods strode the fairways of Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club while contesting the 2002 New Zealand Open – partly at the urging of caddie Steve Williams but also after some controversial financial inducement. The then-six-time Major winner (he would also win the first two Majors of 2002) finished equal sixth behind Australian Craig Parry that week, as the golf course instead became the showpiece.
A record 12-time NZ Open host, Paraparaumu represents course designer Alex Russell at his best. The man behind some of the best Sandbelt courses across the Tasman Sea in Melbourne penned a course that utilised the seaside land’s inherent curves and allowed the natural shapes to guide his eye. Like all good links layouts, the course reveals its full character when conditions are firm and fast, letting the bounce and roll of the ball take centre stage. And all this sits a comfortable 45-minute drive from Wellington.
An interesting side note to Parry’s Paraparaumu victory: the world ranking points Tiger’s presence afforded that NZ Open helped Parry become eligible for the WGC–NEC Invitational later that year, which he went on to win. And it all started at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY LISBON
Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
Where: 376 Kapiti Rd, Paraparaumu Beach, Paraparaumu 5032
Green fee: $85 for NZ residents (otherwise $170)
Phone: (04) 902 8200