Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Recently I played one of the top golf courses in the world. Since then I have thought about it so often that I decided I must write about it and share my experience with you.
The 15th Green. Notice the “Danger Cliffs” sign. This par 5 is monster at 600 yds. from the white tees! 650 from the tips.
In March of 2016 Golf Digest ranked Cape Kidnappers as #16 in the world. A worthy ranking indeed.
The experience of playing Cape Kidnappers is unique in every way. When you arrive at Cape Kidnappers golf course you are greeted by a dirt road and gray metal gate and no sign of a golf course. You buzz the pro shop, tell them who you are. This is not a just show up spur of the moment and play kind of place. The gate opens and you begin a 15-20 minute drive through forest and wilderness. Again, no sign of a golf course.
Eventually, you arrive at what looks to be a small, rustic cabin that is the clubhouse. Not what you are expecting. Not the grand palace that accompanies a course with such credentials.
The clubhouse is bigger than it first appears and has an inviting and comfortable atmosphere.
Cape Kidnappers averages only about 40 rounds a day so don’t be surprised if the pro shop staff is very attentive.
Chances are while warming up on the range you and your group will be the only ones in sight. When we played we were the only group on the course. Which adds even more to the experience. You don’t feel rushed. You have time to soak it all in, take photos and to also feel the experience. Because there is a feeling there. I felt like I was literally in golf heaven. You sort of can’t believe the quality of the course and the off the charts spectacular setting.
I’ve played other courses in the top 20 in the world and they all have an ora about them which should be savored and not rushed. These rare feelings are ones you will recall throughout your life because they are so special.
The vistas immediately grab you. The course sits upon 400 ft. cliffs that over look the south pacific.
As you play the front nine each hole gets more impressive. Tom Doak, the course designer, did a masterful job of putting together what seems to be 18 signature holes.
This is a tough course, but the fairways are generous. They need to be because it can get pretty windy there. We were lucky in that we saw the course on a calm, chamber of commerce kind of day.
The entire time you play the front nine you are saying to yourself and anyone who will listen, “Can you believe this place? This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.”
Incidentally, I played with my one of my best friends from college, Russ Bryant (we played college golf together) who is a professional photographer and has been all over the world. He concurs. The place is hard to describe. You sort of have to go and experience it for yourself. Yeah, these photos are beautiful but I don’t think any photos could do it justice.
The view from behind the par 3, 11th. About 225 yds. from the back tee which is located on the small strip of land just left of the pin.
Again, as you play the front nine and you are in awe, you know in the back of your mind, we haven’t even gotten to the back nine yet. That is the spectacular nine holes!
So many of the holes seem to be on the edge of the world. It’s almost like infinity golf. You know the infinity pools where you just see water then sky? It’s the same kind of thing. You are so high up and you are hitting golf shots that have no backdrop other than sky. It’s pretty surreal.
Yes, the back nine is amazing. Most of the back nine is on what they call, “the fingers” which have holes going toward and away from the ocean on narrow strips of land where if you are off the fairway (left, right or long) your ball, or you for that matter, will fall off a cliff. I even heard that they took the plexiglass windscreens off the carts because on windy days the windshield would act like a sail and if the brake wasn’t on carts would occasionally find their way off the cliffs.
The walk between the 14th tee to the fairway. Every step is incredibly beautiful at Cape kidnappers.
The cool thing about the course is the rhythm. The drama keeps building all the way to the 16th hole where the tee box is a little piece of land perched on the edge of a cliff. Then as you head in for the last couple of holes and head away from the sea, you can sort of catch your breath and process what you’ve just experienced.
Cape Kidnappers should be on everyones bucket list of courses to play.
I’ve played the Old course at St. Andrews a few times. It is the same feeling as standing on that course. Don’t miss it! New Zealand has so many amazing courses and all are inexpensive compared to the rest of the world. Kidnappers would have be about the most expensive in New Zealand. About $250 usd. That’s cheaper than any of the great golf courses in the U.S.