Formed in 1909 as Maungakiekie Golf Club, Titirangi Golf Club, as it is now known, is the only course in New Zealand that can say it has Alister MacKenzie as its golf course architect. It was whilst MacKenzie was in Auckland in 1927 during a short fishing holiday to the country that he created drawings and designed a routing for the course which is still in use nearly 100 years later.
Towards the mid 1990s, the club realised the course was in need of an overhaul and Chris Pitman was contacted to redesign and remodel a number of holes. Millions of dollars later, much has been achieved – including tree removal, upgrading of the 15th hole and reconstruction of the 6th green. The renovation programme is now complete, confirming Titirangi’s reputation as one of Auckland’s best golf courses.
The achievement, with holes laid out over difficult terrain (due to the clay that covers much of the site), has received much critical acclaim; “the designer at Titirangi has done an outstanding job of which Alister MacKenzie, were he still with us, would, I am sure, be thrilled” was one such comment. Chris Pitman himself has said, “Like MacKenzie I believe a golf course should be a rendezvous with nature. If possible, you leave the land just the way it is and build holes as nature intended.”
Two of the four long par threes at Titirangi are exceptional holes. The tee box on the 187-yard 7th is located amongst tall pine trees but the tiered, sloping green is relatively exposed, making correct club selection critically important. The 203-yard 14th is all carry across native bush and a creek to a fast, undulating green protected by a bunker to the front right. A glow of satisfaction will be well earned if you mark a pair of threes on your scorecard for these two holes.
Chris Pitman – course architect commented as follows: “From an 18-hole master plan all the holes except three have been restored. Mainly greens, tees and fairway bunkering. MacKenzie's original sketches, still in the Club's archives, were followed together with carefully calculated estimates of what, in his style, his further input would have been had he remained longer in New Zealand.
There were no layout changes as his use of majestic site features was and is superlative. Detailed working drawings were painstakingly applied on site with dedicated course superintendent Steve Hookway as we delved into the MacKenzie mind and analyzed numerous pictures of his world-wide architectural success. I started my golfing life as a greenkeeper in 1963 at West Herts GC, a MacKenzie remodeled course near London. A subconscious appreciation of fine art had been sealed.”
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Alister MacKenzie was born in England, but his parents were Scottish and the family holidayed every year close to where his father was raised in the traditional Clan MacKenzie lands of Sutherland.