Titirangi Golf Club, is yet another grand Kiwi centenarian. Conceived in 1914 and bearing the unmistakable signature of the master craftsman of yesteryear, Alister MacKenzie. His design and routing endure to this day.
Utilising those original 1927 drawings and plans, the club has recently completed an extensive refurbishment. The objective of this comprehensive restoration program was to take the course back to the master’s original design. Mission accomplished – in grand style, thus reasserting Titirangi’s status as one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent courses.
A relatively short but strategically demanding layout which for decades, has sat comfortably in the upper echelon of New Zealand courses. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, I didn’t get the opportunity to play the course but availed myself of the interesting and informative guided tour provided by the genial Director of Golf, Doug White.
Titirangi plays to a par 70 of at just over 6000 metres from the men’s black tees. Not overly long, but strategically strong, it carries an NZG slope rating of 127 and a CR of 72.00. Five sets of tees are on offer to ensure that players of all proficiency are well catered for.
The round commences with a pair of relatively mild par 4’s of just 282 and 290 metres, 18 and 10 respectively on the card. From there, strap yourself in as the strategic value of the master’s design now really comes to the fore. 3 is a strong par 4, followed by an outstanding par 3 of 169 metres. Then the first of the par 5’s, ‘Longfellow’, is a gradual right-hander – the intrinsic positioning of the fairway/greenside bunkering an absolute treat – calling for strategic and accurate play to and from the fairway. Get it wrong at your peril.
I consider the green complex at 13, ‘The Wrecker’ as possibly the best illustration of MacKenzie’s genius in presenting a great conclusion to a hole. A large, undulating, multi level putting surface, protected by strategically positioned greenside pots, again indicative of the Master’s classic bunkering. Just a treat.
As a general comment, the greens provide a tough but fair but assessment of your prowess with the flat stick. A great example of which is the tri-tiered 14th where a vast range of pin placements are at hand, and a bunt from above the hole, in almost every instance, will require at least two more.
Again, at the 187 metre, par 3, 14th signature hole below, calls for a nerve-wracking shot across a sea of local flora to a no bail-out, multi tiered green, aptly named, ‘Ramparts’. A visually, most attractive parkland setting, as picturesque as any I have encountered in my travels.
Fairways although somewhat ‘damp’ at the time, offered excellent cover and a bad lie through the green, unlikely. And, just to keep you honest, serious pre-shot consideration a prerequisite for play from the sometimes undulating fairways. The design variety of the holes is diverse and brilliantly laid out in this beautifully preserved natural bush setting. The reasonably lengthy par 3’s and several quite short par 4’s provide an interesting diversity to this layout. Indicative of such, the four par 3’s which play from each cardinal point of the compass. Write three on the card for each this clutch of holes and you have the makings of a good score. The conclusion to the round provides yet another graphic illustration of the art form that is the MacKenzie signature bunkering.
In conclusion, a quote from Chris Pitman, OIC of the TGC revamp if I may: “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.”
Date: November 30, 2015