Cape Kidnappers
Te Awanga, New Zealand

Eighth hole, 180 yards, Backstop; Given the ravines et al, the par three holes were always going to play an important part in having the routing flow seamlessly and it is no surprise that the course features five of them. Here is another case whereby a one shotter was used to cross a gully. Situated well away from the water, the eighth is not a mongrel like the twelfth at Pebble Beach whereby the golfer is just waiting to get back to the good stuff. Instead, it is another example of an inland hole that is full of charm and playing merit to the point where Doak considers it perhaps his favorite one shotter on the course.

The eighth enjoys a different feel than the other one shotters as it is situated on lower ground and is less exposed to the wind. The tee ball is played over low lying trees found in a gully. Note the slight depression just past the false front in the center of the green. There are lots of ways for balls to be gathered into it (and indeed it's known as the hole in one location). Conversely, miss it long and the golfer will struggle to two putt.

The eighth enjoys a different feel from the other one shotters as it is situated on lower ground and is less exposed to the wind. The tee ball is played over low lying trees found in a gully. Note the slight depression just past the false front in the center of the green. There are lots of ways for balls to be gathered into it (and indeed it's known as the hole in one location). Conversely, miss the bowl long and the golfer struggles to two putt.

Ninth hole, 405 yards, Dip; Not unlike the tenth at Shinnecock Hills, the golfer needs to make the decision from the tee how best to play the hole: Hit a driver over the crest of a hill and down into valley, leaving a sixty yard albiet blind pitch or lay back off the tee and have a full view of one of the best greens on the course but accept an approach from 140 yards. The hole functions great today and is another example of skillful dirt work as ten feet of earth was pulled off the front of the green and used to fill in and soften the valley below.

The ninth fairway tumbles downhill just past these two left side fairway bunkers. A tee ball near these bunkers leaves the golfer with an excellent view of the green and an approach shot of approximately 140 yards.

The ninth fairway tumbles downhill just past these two left side fairway bunkers. A tee ball near these bunkers leaves the golfer with an excellent view of the green and an approach shot of approximately 140 yards.

The firm playing surfaces on offer at Cape Kidnappers provide the golfer a range of options. Here at the ninth, should he take dead aim at the flag or use the short grass to the high right side of the green to feed his approach shot close?

The firm playing surfaces on offer at Cape Kidnappers provide the golfer a range of options. Here at the ninth, should he take dead aim at the flag or use the short grass to the high right side of the green to feed his approach shot close?

 Tenth hole, 475 yards, Seaward Ho; Though the front is set across exhilarating land for golf, the back possesses the holes that golfers frequently see featured in aerial photographs as six of its holes are located along the famous ‘fingers’ of land that make Cape Kidnappers distinct from any site in world golf. The backdrops to the greens on the back nine changes from green to blue and the tenth is the first of three infinity greens.

The tenth hole heads away from the clubhouse and toward the water. The golfer salivates at the prospect of hitting a draw and watching the ball take the ground's tilt and roll slowly toward the back left hole location.

The tenth hole heads away from the clubhouse and toward the water. The golfer salivates at the prospect of hitting a draw and watching the ball take the ground's tilt and track toward back left hole locations.

Note how the bunker was cut into the landform and is below the surface of the tenth green. According to Hepner, ' The bunkers were kept deep but quiet in nature to take advantage of the dark shadows cast at any time of the day.  The sand lines were also kept in a low profile due to the occasional high wind days.' In addition, another virtue of the bunker construction as presented here is that the golfer enjoys the pleasure of watching his ball slowly roll across the green.

Note how the bunker was cut into the landform and is below the surface of the tenth green. According to Hepner, ' The bunkers were kept deep but quiet in nature to take advantage of the dark shadows cast at any time of the day. The sand lines were also kept in a low profile due to the occasional high wind days.' In addition, another virtue of the bunker construction as presented here is that the golfer enjoys the pleasure of watching his ball slowly roll across the entire surface of the green.

The eleventh tee is in the background but the view from the right of the fairway shows a flag that seems about to fall off the earth!

The eleventh tee is in the background but the view from the right of the fairway shows a flag that seems about to fall off the earth!

Eleventh hole, 225 yards, Look Out; As he heads back to the tee, the first time visitor might take comfort that this one shotter heads away from the cliffs, surmising that it might be a bit of a breather. Nothing could be farther from the truth as a chasm reaches within a few yards along the left of the green, which is little more than a knob with fall-offs short and right as well.

One of the most taxing shots on the course is hitting the eleventh green in regulation. A miss right and you are on short grass twelve feet below the putting surface wheras a miss left brings this hazard into play.

One of the most taxing shots on the course is hitting the eleventh green in regulation. A miss right and you are on short grass twelve feet below the putting surface whereas a miss left brings this hazard into play.

Twelfth hole, 460 yards, Infinity; Doak and Hepner use words like ‘understated’ and ‘elegant’ when describing their work at Cape Kidnappers and yet, such words seem at odds with a course whose holes are both thrilling and dramatic! A perfect example of how both sets of words can apply comes here at the bunkerless twelfth. Great time and effort was spent by Doak and his team in massaging the land before the green and the green itself so that the hole plays just right. Yet, this doesn’t mean that they added bunkers or other man-made hazards. Rather, the challenge rests in their subtle contouring of the land and the tight short grass. The green’s slope from front to back provides for expansive views of the water behind (put another way, if Doak had built up the back of the green so that it sloped in a traditional manner from back to front, much less of the Pacific would be in sight).  Crucially, this is another example whereby the fast and firm conditions offered by Steve Marsden and his crew are central to allowing the hole to play properly. Some approach shots take ten plus seconds to trickle along the tilt of the green before finding back left hole locations and the hole wouldn’t be nearly as fun to play if that wasn’t the case.  The end result of the design combined with the firm playing conditions is that the approach is another example whereby the playing merit is the equal to the striking setting. Doak summarizes it well when he says, ‘We were deliberately subtle with our architecture as there was no way in the world to compete with the surrounding beauty.’

A new tee by Alex Robertson lends Cape playing characteristics to the tee ball, which now plays from the back markers on a diagonal over a ravine to a wide fairway that sweeps from right to left down toward the Pacific Ocean.  Complicating matters is that the wind frequently blows from left to right, quartering against the golfer.

A new tee by Alex Robertson lends Cape playing characteristics to the tee ball, which now plays from the back markers on a diagonal over a ravine to a wide fairway that sweeps from right to left down toward the Pacific Ocean. Complicating matters is that the wind frequently blows from left to right, quartering against the golfer.

One of the game's most enticing approach shots is this one to the twelfth green, which slopes from high front right to low back left. Judging how and where to land the ball is endlessly fascinating.

One of the game's most enticing approach shots is this one to the twelfth green, which slopes from high front right to low back left. Judging how and where to land the ball is endlessly fascinating.

Of course, push it right and miss the tongue that feeds onto the green and the golfer is left with this difficult up and down to a green that runs away.

Of course, push it right and miss the tongue that feeds onto the green and the golfer is left with this difficult up and down to a green that runs away.

The golfer is frequently rewarded for playing bold attacking golf. As this view from behind the twelfth green indicates, even if he is a bit aggressive with his approach shot, he has a chance to recover. Notice how much of the putting surface is in view from behind the green, a sure sign that the green slopes from front to back.

The golfer is frequently rewarded for playing bold, attacking golf at Cape Kidnappers. As this view from behind the twelfth green indicates, even if he is a bit aggressive with his approach shot, he has a chance to recover. Notice how much of the putting surface is in view from behind the green, a sure sign that the green slopes from front to back.

Thirteenth hole, 130 yards, Alex’s Ace;  Though modest in length, none of the professionals in the 2009 Kiwi Challenge came close to a birdie either day. The domed green’s soft shoulders feed balls off all sides to the point where even accomplished golfers find the middle of the green to be a satisfactory result. As a result of the golf course construction slowdown caused by the events of September 11th, 2001, Doak’s most talented team members including Brian Schneider, Brian Slawnik and Eric Iverson all worked on this project and the result is evident in the graceful shaping that defines this green complex. Alex Robertson won’t discuss the hole’s name but his proud father is quick to point out that Alex had a hole in one here the day before the course officially opened by punching a low boring shot underneath the wind and into the hole for a tidy ‘one’.

As seen in the bottom middle of Joann Dost's aerial photograph, the long bunkerless twelfth takes the golfer back to the cliffs. With its tee behind the twelfth green, the thirteenth is the only hole on the course that plays in a southerly direction.

As seen in the bottom middle of Joann Dost's aerial photograph, the long bunkerless twelfth takes the golfer back to the cliffs. With its tee behind the twelfth green, the thirteenth is the only hole on the course that plays in a southerly direction.

Most people are distracted by the 550 foot cliffs and deep bunkers down the left of the thirteenth but its putting surface provides the real challenge. Note how its front left slopes away and toward the bunkers.

Most people are distracted by the 550 foot cliffs and deep bunkers down the left of the thirteenth but its putting surface provides the real challenge. Note how its front left slopes away and toward the bunkers.

Fourteenth hole, 350 yards, Pimple; Of all the variations on the Road Hole green complex, this may well be the best, coming as it does on a reachable par four hole. Downwind, long players can reach the green providing their skill is matched with the courage to drive it long down the side with the most trouble. Doak’s favorite courses like Crystal Downs, The Old Course at St. Andrews and Cypress Point have long shaped his affection for short par fours and this one is as good as any of them. Just as with the original at St. Andrews, to go over this green is doom as Adam Scott found to his chagrin during the 2008 Kiwi Challenge.

As seen from the tee, there are acres and acres of fairway to which to play.

As seen from the tee, there are acres and acres of fairway to which to play.

However, closer inspection shows that there are very distinct angles at play. Downwind, the tiger golfer entertains hope of his tee ball skirting the two bunkers sixty yards shy of the putting surface and running onto the green. At 4,600 square feet, this green is the smallest target on the course, which is fitting for a hole of this length.

However, closer inspection shows that there are very distinct angles at play. Downwind, the tiger golfer entertains hope of his tee ball skirting the two bunkers sixty yards shy of the putting surface and running onto the green. At 4,600 square feet, this green is the smallest target on the course, which is fitting for a hole of its length.

The greenside pot bunker dictates play well back in the fairway and the land around it was massaged so as to feed balls into it. Ala the one at the seventeenth at St. Andrews, it is deep and not particularly wide, which can leave awkward recovery shots. As an example, Sean O'Hair required two bunker shots to get out in the 2009 Kiwi Challenge.

The greenside pot bunker dictates play well back in the fairway and the land around it was massaged so as to feed balls into it. Ala the one at the seventeenth at St. Andrews, it is deep and not particularly wide, which can leave awkward recovery shots. As an example, Sean O'Hair required two bunker shots to get out in the 2009 Kiwi Challenge.

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