Cape Kidnappers is best described by using the words of the designer of the course, Tom Doaks:
"Our goal in designing golf courses is to create interesting holes you wouldn't find anywhere else. 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. It's an overwhelming experience to stand up on the cliffs, 140 meters above sea level, and look out across the waves far below in Hawke's Bay.
Cape Kidnappers is not true links terrain, with the wrinkles of sand dunes; instead the land tilts toward the sea as a series of ridges jutting out toward the edge of the cliffs. Yet, the play is seaside golf at its finest. The surface is firm and fast, the conditions can be windy, and the player who can control his trajectory will be master of the course.
You'll hit shots over the tops of the tea trees, and play along the edges of deep ravines. If you stray on your approaches, you'll actually hope to get caught up in bunkers hanging off the green's edge, some of them deeper than you've ever seen before. Three times, you'll have to make the perilous leap from the end of one ridge to the end of the next. And at the sixth and fifteenth holes it's possible to pull your approach off the very end of the earth, though it will take nearly ten seconds of hang time for your ball to reach the ocean below.”
This is a spectacular location and the scenery is stunning. Unfortunately did I have drizzling rain all day at my visit, but check this one out and you’ll understand why it’s spectacular:
You’ll most likely also have the longest and most beautiful drive in golf from the main entrance to the golf lodge – 8 km of stunning terrain.
It’s easy to get distracted by the scenery when playing Cape Kidnappers. It’s a golf course that all players will enjoy. Great natural layout, good variation of the holes, unique characteristics and rather generous fairways. The wind will also play a significant factor on how you play the course – trust your swing and put the ball in position.
The following holes stand out from my perspective:
Hole 6 – 194 meters par 3
You need to carry the ball across a deep gully. Miss to the left and you can kiss your ball goodbye. The green slopes from right to left, so aim right of pin and the ball will be by the hole – if you can reach the green, that is! I played a hybrid to one of the front left bunkers, out of the bunker and missed a 6 meters put for a bogey 4.
Hole 7 – 384 meters par 4
A downhill dogleg right. The tee shot is important and try to aim for the right center of fairway. The downhill second shot is one of the most exhilarating on the course. The green is elevated and a narrow target from the top of the hill. Be precise! Great 240 meter drive to the centre of fairway, a 7 iron to the back of green, 3 put from 15 meters for a bogey 5.
Hole 13 – 114 meters par 3
The shortest hole on the course, but not an easy one. Big bunkers are protecting the left sloping green. Play for the back right side. If not, the ball will run off the green into the bunkers below. The wind will determine what club to use. A 9-iron right to the middle of green, missed the 5 meters birdie put for a par.
Hole 15 – 549 meters par 5 (Pirates Plank)
The key to this long par 5 is to stay on fairway, especially when there is a 140-metre clip on the left side and a 20-metre drop on the right! Don’t even look over the left edge of the fairway if you are afraid of heights. Keep it straight! I’m afraid of heights, so I kept it straight. 3 shots and short of green, duffed a chip and a 2 put for a bogey 6.
The rain was drizzling all day, but I was able to hold my game together reasonably well. I though needed to fight on every hole to get the score. Fairly consistent with a 40 on the front nine and a 41 on the back nine – a total of 81 shots (gross). I’m happy with this result in this weather, but I want to come back and see if I can score lower in better weather. The risk is though that the scenery will distract me if the sun is out!!
Cape Kidnappers is spectacular and very enjoyable. It’s not only a great golf course, it’s also a top 5-star lodge with everything you need to relax and pamper yourself. It’s a long way to New Zealand, Hawkes Bay and Cape Kidnappers, but it’s so worth the effort to get there –you’ll not regret it.