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Dreamy Kiwi: New Zealand's Tara Iti

New Zealand has a new coastal gem
By Ron Whitten Photos by Joann Dost
August 20, 2015

Americans might insist that Pebble Beach is the greatest meeting of land and sea in golf, but elsewhere on this planet, spectacular new layouts are prepared to challenge that notion. There's the recently opened Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, plus two in Tasmania, Australia: Cape Wickham Golf Course, designed by Mike DeVries and Darius Oliver, and the soon-to-open Ocean Dunes, laid out and managed by Graeme Grant. All three are cliff-top designs.

Tara Iti has holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornoch and Royal St. George's.

Another legitimate contender is Tara Iti Golf Club (shown above), a private club near Mangawhai, New Zealand, that is set to open in October. It's the newest splendiferous creation by American designer Tom Doak and is far more links-like than the other new coastal courses. It's built on what had been a pine-covered Sahara by the sea. After removing acres of trees from the locale on the eastern coast of the country's North Island, Doak and associate Brian Slawnik spent more than two years gently contouring the sandy soil, forming hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature. There's a lot of sand, but no bunkers. (Golfers may ground the club anywhere.) From holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornoch and Royal St. George's, players are afforded breathtaking views of the Hauraki Gulf, the North Island's answer to Pebble Beach's Carmel Bay. The greatest meeting of land and sea is clearly up for debate.