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Situated on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island, Cape Kidnappers is a remarkable new prestige golf facility designed by American architect Tom Doak. The course occupies part of an isolated 5,000-acre sheep station and after a 8km/5 mile drive from the gates to the clubhouse you are welcomed by stunning sandstone cliff fingers that plummet 500 feet down into the waters of Hawke's Bay. With a number of holes running toward and away from these cliff edges, and even routed along the bluffs, this is one of the most compelling modern layouts in golf with some unforgettable coastal views.The course was in excellent condition, luckily the weather was good too with just a gentle breeze blowing across the course, the greens were smooth and reasonably fast, a couple like 8 and 14 are a touch extreme but the majority are subtly tilted, often elevated and with clever internal contouring that rewards precise approaches kept under the hole. Due to the severity of winds that typically whip across the heads here, the fairways are very generous giving players plenty of width and only using bunkers sparingly.Most interesting of all, however, is the 15th. Named Pirate's Plank, this is a long, wide and flat par five that follows a massive cliff finger as it gently heads down towards the edge of the earth, and there is no denying that his Cape Kidnappers creation is an impressive addition to the world's golfing menu.
April 10, 2008