- AddressTara Iti Drive, Mangawhai 0975, New Zealand
Tara Iti is situated a hundred kilometres north of Auckland on the east coast of the North Island, close to Bream Bay. Local developer, John Darby, (who boasts an enviable track record of successful golf projects in New Zealand at Millbrook, Clearwater and Jack’s Point) in partnership with Los Angeles-based financier Ric Kayne, created the facility.
It’s here, on what was formerly a heavily forested coastal site, that architect Tom Doak was invited to lay out his thirty-fifth golf course design and the routing devised for this layout allows golfers to enjoy uninterrupted views of the nearby Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Mokohinau and Tauranga islands.
Before shaping began, acres of pine trees and wattle had to be removed (though much of the extraneous material was buried then covered up to form some of the bigger dunes on the property) and this clearance left a naturally sandy site for re-vegetation with fescue grass and native plants like spinifex.
Fescue grass covers the fairways and greens and there are no trees, water hazards or any penal rough to speak of. There’s also a lack of formal bunkering – everything is regarded as ‘through the green’ – but in place of conventional bunkers there’s an abundance of attractive, sandy waste areas to contend with.
Holes of note include the 445-yard 3rd (played blind all the way to a punchbowl green), the 460-yard 6th (the seriously rumpled fairway lies closest to Te Aria beach), the uphill, short par four 13th (with its green set on the highest point of the course) and the par five 18th, where the fairway splits to offer multiple routes to the home green.
Tari Iti operates as a private member club but for those who really want to visit there’s a one-off access option that might be worth exploring, as Jim Rohrstaff, who looks after real estate sales and club memberships, explains:
"It's a one-time visit, but that's not defined by one round and one night. If you wanted to come up and stay for a week and play 36 holes a day that's fantastic - but as a non-member-sponsored guest, it's a one-time shot.
"We are here for our members first and foremost but if we have availability and people go through the right process we would love to have them – and we will roll out the red carpet and treat them no differently to our members. We are very welcoming – but in a specific and limited manner."
So there you have it – an open invitation to play at Tara Ita, providing you send a letter of introduction from your club well in advance and are prepared to stay onsite in one of the member cottages before or after you play. With such an offer on the table, what are you waiting for?
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Tom Doak studied Landscape Architecture at Cornell University where he won a scholarship to travel to the British Isles, he then spent seven months on the road, literally living on the links.