FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Golf on the Edge: Tom Doak’s Cape Kidnappers Course in New Zealand

by Dale Leatherman

Feb 1, 2024

Hole 6 © Cape Kidnappers

February 2024

Architect Tom Doak said it best: “You will never play golf somewhere like this again.”

Those words were like a mantra when we were in New Zealand, playing the country’s major courses. Seeing the quote now makes me want to immediately fly to Los Angeles and board a 12-hour Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. Yeah, it’s a long way, but the friendly flight attendants and fine NZ wines and food make it more than bearable. Overnight you cross the international date line (losing a day) and wake up on the other side of the world — and in the opposite season that you left.

The short flight to Napier clears your head, and the 35-minute drive to The Farm at Cape Kidnappers allows you to adjust to the climate and countryside. The 15-minute drive from the resort main gate, through pastures where cattle and sheep graze, is pure anticipation. Cape Kidnappers, one of the most hyped courses in the world, begs the question: Can it be that good? In the words of late golf architect Robert von Hagge, great courses have “an equal balance of tactical excellence and beauty. A golfer spends about 11  minutes actually striking the ball; the rest of the time he is in pure theater.”

Twenty years after its opening, Cape Kidnappers has proven to be amply endowed with both of those assets — as well as staying power among the world’s top 50 courses. Staying on top takes effort. During COVID-19 Doak supervised stripping and replanting all fairways and greens to return them to their original hard-and-fast condition.

Technically a seaside layout, the 7,147-yard, par-71 natural track features lots of grassy fringes, but it is not a traditional links course. After the inland front nine, the layout follows fingers of land to
the edge of cliffs 500 feet above the crashing waves of Hawke’s Bay. That said, the front nine is not just a warm-up for spectacular cliff holes. The opening holes are exciting, with changes in elevation, carries over ravines and intriguing green complexes … and surprises, such as the blind tee shot on the 544-yard, par-5 fourth hole.

Nearly everyone has seen stunning drone images of the back nine, but the views prove no less captivating from ground level.

Fairways with drop-offs on both sides seem to shrink when the wind is up — a frequent occurrence. Catching a greenside bunker here can be preferable to losing a ball in high grass or in the depths of a ravine.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a 5-star lodge with two restaurants, a spa, 22 rooms and suites, and a cottage. Managed by Rosewood (along with its sister property, Kauri Cliffs), the resort sits in the midst of a 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle station. Surrounded by predator-proof fencing, the property is also home to the world’s largest gannet colony. Visitors can see more than 25,000 birds at close range.

Cape Kidnappers is open year-round, with greens fees ranging $230–649, depending on the season.

Hole 6 “Gulley” 

225 yards, par 3

Left lies the danger zone for this long one-shotter to an elevated green. Three deep bunkers protect the left front. Just behind the hazards — and edging the putting surface — a steep, grassy bank descends into a valley. It’s a fun cart ride over a long bridge across the wooded ravine to the green.

Cape Kidnappers

Hole 15 © Cape Kidnappers

Hole 7 “14 Flags” 

453 yards, par 4

This hole weighs in as the second-hardest for men and third-ranked for women. It takes a strong drive to top the crest of the fairway and set up a reasonably short downhill approach to a shallow green. Aggressively bunkered on both sides, the elevated green falls off at the back.

Hole 12 “Infinity” 

460 yards, par 4

The Pacific Ocean offers a dramatic backdrop on the 10th hole, aptly named “Seaward Ho,” but two holes later lies the undisputed signature hole. You need a big drive here — and the generous landing area invites it — to leave a short iron approach. The fairway narrows along the ridge, culminating in an infinity green backed by Hawke’s Bay.

Hole 13 “Al’s Ace”

130 yards, par 3

The shortest hole on the course ranks among the easiest, but it’s a mistake to take it lightly. Lying close to the cliff edge, the green is subject to wind, and even on calm days it’s known to shed balls off the left side to deep bunkers down below.

Hole 15 “Pirate’s Plank” 

650 yards, par 5

Rumor has it Doak was hesitant to include this finger of land in the layout because it is so narrow. But he did. It is rightly the No. 1 handicap and stands out among a wealth of memorable holes. The fairway, only 40 yards wide here, edges a drop of more than 400 feet all along the left and a 65-foot drop on the right. The green falls away on three sides at the cliff’s edge but offers run-up possibilities in front.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jun 17, 2024

7 Reasons to Visit Taos, New Mexico, This Summer

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and a high desert climate keeping things cool and comfortable, Taos, New Mexico, offers a slice of paradise in the summer months for many travelers. From water activities on the Rio Grande to scenic hikes, here are seven reasons to visit Taos this summer.

Hotel Indigo: The World’s Neighborhood Hotel

Part of the IHG Luxury & Lifestyle portfolio, Hotel Indigo is the world’s neighborhood hotel that celebrates how guests can discover, or rediscover, some of the most inspiring and culturally rich neighborhoods around the world. When staying at a Hotel Indigo hotel, it's not just about visiting a place — it's about being fully immersed in the neighborhood and wanting to take a little bit of it home. When traveling for business, Hotel Indigo offers a unique experience tailored to each location, making it the perfect choice to stay while traveling for work. With IHG Business Edge, travel managers have exclusive access to enticing perks, comprehensive travel metrics and carefully curated educational resources. It also includes a guaranteed discount on both business and personal travel for managers and employees, alongside an automatic upgrade to IHG One Rewards Silver Elite status after the initial IHG Business Edge stay.

Daily
Jun 14, 2024

Former 1940s-Era Italian Bank Transformed Into Rome EDITION Hotel

It is hard to resist the pleasures of Rome, a city filled with world-renowned paintings; sculptures; thousands of colorful cafés; and hundreds of ancient buildings still standing and often used as offices, homes and museums. Certainly, Rome is the cradle from which all that is best about Italy emerged. It is difficult to open a new hotel in Rome without connecting it to the city’s history, art and culinary tradition. When Rome EDITION opened last year, it was the perfect fit for a city that lives and breathes all things extraordinary.

June 2024
Jun 14, 2024

Loyalty Programs Revamp to Meet Changing Customer Preferences

Airlines and hotels consistently tweak loyalty programs to draw brand engagement based on shifting consumer habits, and the demands of younger generations make an impact. According to Chris Galloway, executive vice president, Strategy & Design, for brand loyalty experts Brandmovers, millennials are more active and engaged in loyalty programs than any other generation to date, and as Gen Z gains in buying/spending power, they also accelerate in their desire for loyalty and rewards programs.

Why Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:

Daily
Jun 14, 2024

Luxury Italian Farmhouse Launches 3 Seasonal, Hands-On Culinary Experiences

This summer, guests staying at Casetta Firenze, a luxury farmhouse in the Chianti region of Tuscany, can book three culinary workshops led by experts in the art of pasta making, traditional Tuscan dishes and vegetarian cuisine. Each workshop offers a multicourse meal, local produce and complementary wine.

June 2024
Jun 12, 2024

Simplify Summer with These Cool Tools

Hatch Restore 2 Smart Alarm Clock  Sleep struggles are increasingly common, but the value of a good night’s rest should not be underestimated. This smart alarm clock promises to help you fall asleep and wake up thanks to sleep sounds and a gentle alarm that simulates a sunrise. The clock includes a 30-night subscription to the Hatch+ service, giving you time to find the right sound and light cues that work for you before the $4.99 monthly fee kicks in. For those who struggle with sleep, that’s a small price to pay. The Restore 2 measures just 7.24 inches by 2.43 inches by 5.31 inches and comes in three color options. $199.99.

Tips to Plan a Destination Event Worth the Trip

It's time to shake things up and inject some serious excitement into your next gathering. Whether  planning a corporate conference, black-tie gala or milestone celebration, choosing the right venue can make all the difference. City Winery shares some tips to make your next gathering a rockin' success.

Daily
Jun 12, 2024

Langham Hospitality Group Opens Cordis-Branded Hotel in Foshan, China

Langham Hospitality Group opened a new hotel under its upscale Cordis Hotels & Resorts brand, situated in the southern Chinese city of Foshan, a key urban center in the country’s Greater Bay Area. The Cordis, Foshan and Lingnan Tiandi Hotel is becoming a promising destination for both tourists and business travelers thanks to its planned upgrades and prime location in Lingnan Tiandi.