Golf Digest Videos

Every Hole at Tara Iti Golf Club in Mangawhai, New Zealand

Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and Golf Digest Contributing Editor Thomas L. Friedman narrates this flyover tour and overview of the Tara Iti golf course in Mangawhai, New Zealand.

Released on 8/6/2018

Transcript

00:00
(mellow music)
00:04
[Thomas] Tom Doak's masterpiece at Tara Iti
00:06
has taken the golf world by storm
00:08
since opening quietly in October, 2015.
00:12
Ranked number six on Golf Digest's
00:14
World 100 Greatest List,
00:16
this magnificent seaside links course
00:19
has once again put golf in New Zealand
00:22
squarely in the crosshairs
00:24
of enthusiasts from all over the world.
00:27
This is Every Hole at Tara Iti.
00:31
Actually, finding Tara Iti
00:33
is the first accomplishment of a visit.
00:35
After driving about 90 minutes north of Auckland,
00:37
you leave the pavement for the journey
00:39
down the gravel road leading to the gate.
00:42
As you wind your way into Tara Iti,
00:44
the pine forest starts to thin,
00:46
and sand begins to reveal itself.
00:48
Before you get your first glimpse of golf,
00:51
the clubhouse sets the tone
00:53
for what this place is really all about,
00:55
understated elegance, attention to detail,
00:59
and blending with nature
01:00
while even standing opposed to it.
01:02
To put the level of detail into perspective here,
01:05
the sand for the sandstone
01:07
used in the construction of the clubhouse
01:10
was mined on site to ensure
01:12
that the color palette matched the building it surrounds.
01:15
The course is unique and so beautiful
01:17
that it is really difficult to put into words.
01:21
It is truly just perfection.
01:25
The opening hole introduces you
01:26
to the importance of angles at Tara Iti.
01:28
A small grove of lanky pine
01:31
force you to play this as designed,
01:33
as a little dogleg left.
01:35
It's not a long hole,
01:36
but the second shot is played
01:38
to a slightly elevated green.
01:40
There is a brilliant backstop
01:42
that will bring the ball back down to the hole
01:44
if you go too long.
01:46
Brute force will not produce the lowest score at Tara Iti,
01:49
but the right mix of imagination and execution will.
01:53
The second at Tara Iti has a small pot-like bunker
01:56
situated almost in the middle of the green,
01:59
with several tee options and shifting winds.
02:02
this par three could literally require
02:04
anything from a fairway wood to a nine iron.
02:07
The elevated tee provides your first,
02:09
but by no means your last,
02:11
majestic view of the Pacific Ocean.
02:15
It's hard for me to pick a favorite hole at Tara Iti,
02:18
but the third, I have to tell you, is a strong contender.
02:21
The wide fairway leads to a natural punchbowl green
02:25
built in the dunes, and on most days,
02:27
the pin can't be seen.
02:29
Anything from a high middle iron,
02:31
low running punch, or even a well struck putter
02:34
can produce incredible results
02:35
thanks to the firm contours surrounding the green.
02:38
I have literally putted from 50 to 75 yards
02:42
off this green.
02:44
Every great golf course should have at least one
02:46
drivable par four,
02:48
and Tara Iti is blessed with several.
02:50
One would foolishly think these are easy pars,
02:53
or even birdie holes, but beware.
02:56
An errant shot to the left
02:58
will put you in a deep bunker
03:00
out of which you can't see anything,
03:02
and anything short right
03:04
will leave you with an uphill shot
03:06
to a pin you can't see as well.
03:10
One of the longest holes on the course,
03:12
with the largest green on the course,
03:14
the fifth provides a generous landing area off the tee,
03:18
but requires a lot more thought
03:20
for your second and third shots.
03:22
This is also a social corridor in the course,
03:25
with the fairways of the fifth
03:27
and the third holes intersecting.
03:29
It provides a great opportunity for golfers to interact
03:33
from a brief nod to some friendly banter,
03:35
like, What the hell are you doing in my fairway?
03:38
The walk from the fifth green to the sixth tee
03:41
is destined to be among the best walks in golf.
03:44
This elevated tee allows for huge ocean views,
03:48
but your eye is drawn to the massive
03:50
natural sand dune in the distance.
03:53
This is the closest you'll play to the Pacific,
03:56
which adds a joyful distraction
03:58
to this difficult, par four, elevated green
04:02
that I have to say has consistently given me fits.
04:06
One of the most brilliant holes on the course, the seventh,
04:09
is as exciting as it is diabolical.
04:12
At less than 300 yards, this drivable par four
04:15
almost begs you to have a courageous swing
04:18
with your driver, and you're even more tempted
04:21
because you can get a lot of roll here.
04:23
If you go right, you'll be slammed into the side
04:26
of a sand dune, and if you go long,
04:28
the sand trap, coming back,
04:31
oh my goodness, bring a shovel.
04:33
Perhaps the most challenging driving hole in the course,
04:36
the eighth, is right about where you start to realize
04:38
you're almost to the halfway point.
04:41
Once you've safely found the fairway,
04:43
this green is well protected on the right,
04:46
and slopes off sharply on the left.
04:49
Tara Iti always provides a safe play,
04:51
which on the eighth hole would be to the left.
04:54
I have been there almost every time.
04:56
But you'll have to earn your par from there,
04:59
because to chip back up to that sloping green is never easy.
05:03
From one of the best driving challenges on the course
05:06
to now one of the most challenging
05:07
green complexes on the course.
05:09
The ninth plays long, uphill,
05:13
into the wind, and requires first timers
05:15
to put complete trust in their caddies.
05:18
Because of the bowl shape of the green,
05:20
and the giant backstop behind it,
05:22
balls approaching from the left
05:24
will typically feed to the right side of this green,
05:27
and balls approaching from the right
05:30
will do the opposite.
05:31
While this is apparent to the caddies,
05:34
it is not to the golfer.
05:35
There is also a huge trap in front,
05:38
and if you end up there,
05:40
getting up and down can be next to impossible.
05:43
That brings us to the mighty tenth hole.
05:45
It's a monster of a par three
05:47
that could easily be mistaken
05:48
for a short par four,
05:50
and most likely will require
05:52
a head cover to be removed.
05:54
This hole is the epitome of a firm, fast golf hole.
05:58
The ball is very much alive when it lands.
06:01
The best play here is to land it short,
06:03
right of the green, then watch it bound forward
06:06
and trek left toward the center of the putting surface.
06:09
If you do go left into the sand and bush though,
06:12
you will discover that it's easy to find your ball there
06:16
and actually make a play from that spot.
06:19
The eleventh is a sweeping par five
06:21
with a generous landing area.
06:23
The hole bends toward the ocean,
06:25
and the green site is framed
06:27
by the craggy islands in the distance.
06:29
A small bunker in front of the green
06:31
flanked by large slopes,
06:33
make holding the green on this hole very difficult,
06:36
even with a short iron.
06:38
That is, it's a short par five,
06:40
but its protection is in the slope of this green,
06:43
and once again, you can pull your putter out
06:46
from 75 yards away.
06:48
The twelfth requires a blind tee shot over a ridge line,
06:52
but you'll be rewarded with tremendous roll,
06:54
making this 450-plus yard par four much shorter.
06:58
The real fun is on the second shot,
07:01
where the green sits amid a dune
07:03
that falls hard from right to left.
07:05
An approach landing in the center of the green
07:07
will settle 20 to 30 yards down the bank.
07:10
Instead, play your approach onto the hillside
07:13
right of the green, and watch as gravity pulls it down
07:16
20 to 30 yards toward the hole.
07:19
The thirteenth, another brilliant,
07:21
potentially drivable par four,
07:23
takes you to the highest point on the course.
07:25
A well placed fairway bunker is both Satan and savior,
07:29
Satan if you find your way inside,
07:32
leaving you a near impossible, I can attest,
07:34
hundred yard shot into the green,
07:37
savior because it allows you to choose the line you wish
07:39
to attack this green, either over the bunker
07:43
to run the ball in, or right of the bunker
07:45
to try to chase it on.
07:47
A heroic tee shot on the fourteenth,
07:50
an elevated par four, should stay well left of center.
07:53
A ball hit down the center line,
07:55
or with a bit too much gusto,
07:57
will have you fighting for a five from the sand
07:59
that runs along the right side of the hole.
08:02
As good as the golf hole is,
08:04
your eyes are drawn to the Hen and Chicks,
08:06
the islands directly behind the green on your approach,
08:10
and the magnificent sand dune to the north,
08:12
visible for much of the course.
08:15
Again, there's a false front here,
08:16
which is hard to detect when you're coming up the hill,
08:19
so make sure you get it over that.
08:22
Appearing as if a green blanket
08:24
has been laid gently across the dunes,
08:27
the fifteenth is a downhill par three
08:29
that is as beautiful as it is ruthless,
08:32
where three feels like a major accomplishment.
08:36
A green that slopes from front to back
08:39
adds even more challenge,
08:41
but your first reach isn't for an iron.
08:44
It's for your camera, as the fifteenth
08:46
is one of the most photographed holes on the course.
08:50
Sandwiched between two difficult par threes,
08:53
the sixteenth requires a well struck tee ball
08:56
that will leave you with a middle to short iron in.
08:59
However, a front pin can turn a would-be par
09:03
into a what the heck just happened six.
09:06
It's often easy to lose focus here
09:08
as your eyes start to wander to the left
09:11
and the postage stamp green
09:13
of the par three seventeenth coming up.
09:17
I think the seventeenth is a hole
09:19
that is destined to adorn
09:21
everything from magazine covers to calendars,
09:25
and I have to warn you, some nightmares.
09:28
This tiny, elevated green
09:30
demands one of your best shots of the day.
09:33
It's the shortest hole in the course.
09:34
I often hit a nine iron there into the wind.
09:37
But the brilliance of the hole's design
09:40
is that you have to fly the ball to the hole.
09:43
With the constant breeze on the seventeenth,
09:46
high in the air is the last place you want to be,
09:49
as shots that appear to be tracking on line
09:51
have a habit of drifting ever so gently
09:55
into the many parless spots around the green,
09:58
including these incredibly craggy,
10:01
deep sand dune traps
10:03
that make up and down next to impossible.
10:07
After a brief moment to wipe the tears from your eyes
10:10
as you recognize that your round at Tara Iti
10:13
is coming to an end, you'll need to reapply your game face
10:16
for the final tee shot of the day.
10:19
The par five eighteenth is reachable
10:22
even for moderate hitters.
10:24
I've hit it several times with a three wood,
10:26
but the landing area
10:28
is among the most narrow on the course,
10:31
which is why I've also hit the traps around it
10:34
several times with a three wood.
10:37
Above the magnificent green complex
10:40
sits Tara Iti's clubhouse.
10:42
Many watchful eyes will add even more pressure
10:46
as you attack this finishing hole.
10:48
Indeed, your New Zealand mates
10:50
are often sitting on a bench up there
10:52
watching, cheering, and having
10:55
often a pretty good laugh
10:57
as you come in for a landing
10:59
on the eighteenth at Tara Iti.
11:02
Few golf courses, if any, can approach
11:04
Tara Iti's raw beauty.
11:07
Its relaxed, understated atmosphere
11:09
truly sets it apart from any golf destination in the world.
11:13
The on-site cottages are cozy but transformative.
11:16
A 31-foot, 1970 Airstream Time Traveler
11:21
has been refitted with a chef's kitchen
11:22
capable of providing everything from light snacks
11:26
to full meals, to homemade pizza.
11:29
There are organic gardens, a caravan
11:31
that's been converted to a bar,
11:32
not to mention ample opportunities for kayaking,
11:35
paddle boarding or biking.
11:37
Several days after golf,
11:39
I'll take a cart and walk down
11:41
to the seven or eight miles of utterly pristine beach.
11:45
In all my days at Tara Iti,
11:47
I've never been on that beach with anybody else.
11:52
(mellow music)
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