The Carrington Resort is situated within an enormous 3,000-acre property on Northland’s Karikari Peninsula where residents can sample the produce from the on-site vineyard and winery or maybe stroll along a fabulous 2½-mile stretch of white sandy coastline. On the sporting front, Carrington offers a wide range of facilities ranging from swimming pools to tennis courts, Olympic class shooting range to 18-hole championship golf course.
A golfing layout actually existed here prior to a redesign by American Matt Dye, nephew of the legendary Pete Dye, but such was the extent of the architect’s work on the site, Carrington was considered a new course when it opened for play in December 2003. Sadly, Matt died prematurely of cancer five years later but his golfing legacy is still very much in evidence at the resort.
The course is described as “an inland golf course with an Oceanside location” – how refreshing to find a seaside course not promoting itself as a links – and it’s set out on a rolling landscape where water hazards come into play on several occasions, most notably at holes 6 and 7. The two slightly doglegged short par fours at 5 and 17 are feature holes on the scorecard while the monster 625-yard 14th is one of the longest par fives in all of New Zealand.
This is a very hilly course and the walk between holes can be long so would seriously consider getting a cart if playing here. The course is not in great shape which is sad. The greens were patchy, and the bunkers have been left to go wild with little sand in them. A number of blind tee shots and green approaches where you can't see the green surface, the par 5s of 5 and 8 were the worse for this and my seconds were just a guess. The stars of this course are the par 3s, the 7th is stunning with an all water carry, the 10th and 16th both very worthy par 3s. Other than these the course has a very country course feel to it, the finishing holes of 17 and 18 are of little challenge. Spectacular scenery makes it a must play if in the area.
The Peppers Carrington Resort is located on the beautiful Karikari Peninsula in the north of New Zealand, and opened for business in the year 2000. The setting is quite unique with glorious views over the expansive white sand coastline, as well as more rural views of the surrounding Carrington Farms, and the Karikari Estate winery... The golf course site is equally diverse, and is routed to take advantage of different types of terrains- from rolling hills, to wetlands. Architect Matt Dye ( nephew of Pete Dye ) is the man responsible, and he has done a good job. The course is nicely bunkered, and strategically strong. Some of the bunkering has boarding, giving it a unique look. It must be a calling card of the Dye family to do this- but in this case Matt Dye has used ti tree for the boarding- giving it a more rustic look- and definitely a point of difference!
Other points of interest were the 150 yard markers made of petrified rock, and the Maori totem poles on each tee. It was all very New Zealand!
Dye has been able to mould his course into the landscape to take full advantage of the amazing vistas that surround it. But those expecting a links course would be off the mark. Despite the proximity to the ocean, and sand dunes all around the course is really an inland parkland course, and the fairways are kikuyu. The course is exposed to the winds off the ocean, and the wind is a major factor on the golf course. It all makes for a very interesting game of golf. I felt the front nine was more dramatic, and more compelling. From hole 3 the momentum built through a variety of exciting golf holes. The short par 4 fifth demands a decision- do you have a go at the green, or lay up to the safe ground visible from the tee?
Overall I found the green structures and bunkering surrounds to be quite interesting. In some cases the greens were enormous- perhaps designed to cater for the strong winds. There was plenty of movement in the greens, but without being silly- and this affords the luxury of giving Carrington multiple pin positions on many of the greens, thus changing the nature of the approach. I liked that! However on the down side up to nine of the green surfaces cannot be seen from the approach, and so the first time player has no real idea of what he is hitting to.
Another interesting addition to the golfing landscape here at Carrington are the park benches which adorn many tees, perhaps encouraging the golfer to sit and take in the amazing vistas. The benches are covered in lichen, giving a clue to the climate in thes parts. But they look terrific! Perhaps walkers will need to take a seat from time to time because the routing does cover some territory, with lots of ups and downs and sizeable walks between green and tee on a number of occassions. For most this will be a cart course.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.