As you enter Cape Kidnappers Golf Course on its 6000-acre site, you drive through a modest entrance gate for 7km through hills, valleys, naturally landscaped farmlands, and pine forests. During this 15-minute drive, I passed through the automatic gate of a 7-foot-high excluder fence designed to keep out predators such as possums, stoats, weasels, etc. in order to protect native NZ wildlife like the endangered kiwi bird. The golf pro shop is located high atop a dramatic cliff overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. This magical place with its five-star plus lodge was developed by American multibillionaire Julian Robertson.
Well-known golf architect Tom Doak designed the 7,119-yard challenging Cape Kidnappers par 71 golf course with its eye-catching views of the sea from every hole. Tom said, “Our goal in designing golf courses is to create interesting holes you wouldn't find anywhere else and that wasn't hard to do at Cape Kidnappers, because the site is not like anywhere else in golf. If it were any bigger or any more dramatic, it would probably be cordoned off as a national park.”
As we approached the 6th tee, we passed 10 cows peacefully grazing in the paddock just off the cart path. Standing on the elevated 190-yard par 3 sixth tee we studied the cavernous deep ravine separating us from the green and the expansive view of the sea.
We noticed the surrounding terrain and the fact that the green slopes to the left which could perhaps funnel balls off the cliff. If you miss the green entirely to the left, the ball would travel downward 500 feet leaving plenty of time to say goodbye to the ball and pull out another one.
We hit short of the green on the signature hole, the 15th, a 650-yard par 5 called “Pirates Plank” named appropriately since if you hit over the green you must walk over a narrow grass path to incredibly deep bunkers surrounding the left side at the back of the green. A part of the plank you must walk can be seen on the far left side in the picture above. We kept out of these bunkers, but after we finished putting, we had to throw a ball in a back bunker to experience this dangerously exciting bunker shot - and live to tell about it!
After finishing at the 15th we climbed up to the breath-taking 500-yard par 5 16th tee and found ourselves standing on the cliff's edge teeing off to a wide fairway far below.
Cape Kidnappers is one of a kind. We haven’t played golf anywhere like it. We, fortunately, happen to live near this magnificent golf course and I help at the golf course maintenance department 1 or 2 days each week. The entire maintenance staff is friendly, hardworking and committed to the highest standards.
Our favourite course on our tour of the Antipodes without a shadow of doubt. A picture of CK had been on my wall for probably 8 years, as a ‘bucket list’ course to play, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Whilst not being quite as dramatic as the professionally taken photographs we were enthralled by our 3 days & nights there & CK vastly exceeded our expectations. We were however very lucky with the weather because on a very windy day I guess it could be quite unplayable. The spectacular ocean views start on hole number 4 and continue until the 16th, with the exception of 8 & 9 which are excellent inland holes. The views all around the course are just mind blowing. As is well written about, the back nine is played along 5 separate fingers of land jutting out into the ocean. It was just brilliant, such a dramatic, stunning course & a real privilege to get to visit. One day we hope to return, with our fingers firmly crossed that the wind is kind once again.
Oh boy! One of the courses I had dreamed of playing ever since I started being interested in the game was Cape K. Thanks to Patrick, I even got the full VIP treatment. And I am going to sum it up quickly... It's one of the most fun rounds I have ever had. The layout is of course brilliant and the views are second to none. It is quite unique to play a hole with 100 meters drop on each side of the fairway and behind the green. Facilities, like at the sister's course Kauri Cliffs, are world class too! And on a side note, I got to take a few very nice drone shots!