Titirangi Golf Club
Visiting Auckland’s Titirangi Golf Club is a must for any golfer, especially if you’re a fan of Tom Doak’s Cape Kidnappers or Tara Iti. Titirangi is conveniently located just 15 minutes from downtown Auckland, where the native New Zealand bush surrounds justify Titirangi’s name, a Maori word for “fringe of heaven”.
Doak’s work is heavily influenced by Alister MacKenzie, who is famous for designing courses in the Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s such as Royal Melbourne West, Cypress Point, Augusta National and Pasatiempo. Titirangi has undergone several upgrades in recent years by Clyde Johnston, a young, talented associate of Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design who has been working away at a restoration project that will ensure Titirangi continues to age like a fine wine. It has been fully restored to MacKenzie’s original sketches and designs.
Titirangi is one of New Zealand’s 10 Marquee Golf Courses, as listed by Tourism New Zealand, while Doak himself praised Titirangi as a ‘must-play’ course in New Zealand in his popular book, Confidential Guide To Golf Courses.
The course is exactly what you want from a historic design: a challenge that comes not through length (the back tees are barely past 6,000 metres, at par 71), but through the requirement to hit good shots to score.
Muriwai Golf Links
The journey to Muriwai Beach, located 40 minutes west of Auckland on the coast, begins on the motorway to the golf course with picturesque farmland setting the scene for the round. Once there, the golfer will delight in the fact Muriwai Beach is perched on sand dunes overlooking the famous black-sand course. It features rippled fairways, which are carved from an impeccable sand base, as well as tricky bunkers and greens. It’s also a fierce test of skill and a fun course to play for all skill levels.
It used to be a local secret for many Aucklanders, but now the course is getting due recognition from around the world. The undulating terrain, mix of sand dunes, wind-whipped bush and the visual splendour of the tumbling waves in the background are matched by superb playability. The course is so well maintained, the turf plays as a true links course with firm, fast fairways and lightning-quick greens.
The four par 5s all run in almost the same direction, so if you happen to strike the right conditions and a breeze from the southern quarter, they all become reachable in two shots for a good player. Into the breeze is a different story. Other highlights of the course include a couple of cunning par 3s. The stunning eighth hole – where golfers start from an elevated tee gazing out to the Tasman Sea – can be reached with as little as pitching wedge or – if you get a straight easterly or offshore breeze – it can be a 4-iron or hybrid.
Royal Auckland & Grange Golf Club
When the Royal Auckland and Grange golf clubs merged in 2015, a premier 27-hole Nicklaus Design facility was born, split into the Grange, Tamaki and Middlemore nines. The Grange nine features undulating land and large specimen macrocarpa trees, while the Tamaki nine plays through a mangrove-laden estuary. The Middlemore is more of a tree-lined parkland loop.
Manawatu Golf Club
On the banks of the Manawatu River in Palmerston North sits the beautiful historic Manawatu Golf Club. It’s the oldest golf course in New Zealand, with origins dating to 1895, and has hosted five New Zealand Opens, eight New Zealand Amateurs and various other national championships. Treelined with manicured fairways, the course includes 50 white-sand bunkers.
Mangawhai Golf Club
Mangawhai Golf Club is now more than 40 years old but was given a huge boost when the world-renowned Tara Iti was constructed by Tom Doak and his Renaissance firm just down the road, bringing a new wave of golf tourists. Now there’s also Te Arai Links in the area. Mangawhai (translated as “the estuary of the stingray”) is a sand-based links course with fairways that wind through a setting made for golf. Large, undulating greens provide a consistently quick pace with an abundance of natural hazards in a picturesque setting.
Pinpoint Golfing Experiences
Take it from industry leaders, Mathew Perry’s Pinpoint Golfing Experiences does golf tours in style and with the information to help you play your best while you’re there. Neil Spencer, executive general manager of Melbourne’s Crown Casino, said of his tour, “Mat quickly established rapport with the guests, regardless of their golf ability, age or experience, and created an enjoyable and relaxing environment.” Perry’s experience comes from representing his country as a former New Zealand Amateur champion and Eisenhower Trophy player. He’s played in more than 25 countries during his career and spent the past seven years playing professionally in Asia and Europe. Having lived in Melbourne since turning pro, Perry quickly found success in partnering with Crown Casino in a VIP hosting role, guiding guests around its private course. Pinpoint Golfing Experiences was developed to service golfers of all abilities coming to play in New Zealand, with flexible tour guides able to act as a pure caddieing service to a pro-am style approach, like helpful tips and tuition to shot advice and green reading (pinpoint.nz).
Since 1996, Go Golfing has forged a reputation as Australia and New Zealand’s largest and most awarded golf travel company. Based on the Gold Coast, Go Golfing hosts club golfers on organised tournaments and tours in 31 countries – that’s more destinations than any other golf tour operator in the world. Well-researched itineraries, fabulous local partners, access to the most exclusive courses and bespoke experiences are all part of their tours. Comfort, safety, feeling welcome, accredited hosts and passionate local guides underpin a fun and connected travel experience. Go Golfing offers guests the ability to get to know hosts and other travellers ahead of tours, a solo travellers club, free carriage of clubs with some airlines, an amazing app that makes travel simple and an unwavering commitment to looking after golfers from the moment they book (gogolfing.net.au).
Playing golf in stunning locations, staying in comfortable, four-star accommodation in the heart of vibrant cities and experiencing the local culture and activities that are on offer. Sound good? Welcome to Golf Encounters. Owners Peter and Marian Cox purchased Charlie’s Golf Tours and have added exciting new destinations all over the world, from New Zealand and Australia to Europe, Hawaii and South Africa (golfencounters.co.nz).