Jaw-dropping Clifftop Excellence
The Round Up
Location: Te Awanga, Hawkes Bay
Green Fees: $800
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Aim for the top of the ridge down the middle for an easier approach
The Takeaways: Perfect Conditioning, Strong inland routing away from the coast, Sensational views from the cliffs, Some unique shots you won't hit anywhere else in the world, Missing a short par 3 and a drivable par 4!
The 6th is a mid-length par 3 playing over a deep ravine with a 500 foot cliff swallowing anything left!
The 15th is the longest hole on the course 'Pirate's Plank', dead straight on flat land, narrowing as you get closer to the green, hugging the cliff edge the full length.
The 7th is a partially blind tee shot doglegging left, leaving a downhill approach into a domed green with bunkers covering it at all angles.
Golf is a game that takes on the magic of its surroundings, capturing the heartbeat of a location and presenting it through a routing of 18 unique chapters. Cape Kidnappers, tucked away on a 500 foot cliff in a corner of New Zealand, is a place that lived with me prior to my visit, and will stay with me forever thereafter.
The opening stretch of holes at Cape Kidnappers navigates excellent rolling, undulating land, features trademark bunkering and captivating green complexes, they’re engaging and enjoyable without smacking you in the face. Intrigue is retained through every shot, and a mixture of blind shots and approaches into heavily undulated greens makes for some enjoyable golf. This speaks to the routing of Cape Kidnappers, where inland holes are perhaps more architecturally captivating than those benefitting from the dramatic coastal views, ensuring excellent flow to the round.
The sixth hole is where the magic of the landscape, and that shots that it can induce truly begins to present itself. A one-shotter playing across a deep ravine, the green melting into the edge of the first finger - anything left of the green will suffer a 500-foot drop-off into the Ocean below. Rugged bunkers are built into the edges of the cliffs to stop balls from the deadly fall, and standing over your ball you can’t help but soak in the magic around you. The sixth hole perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Cape Kidnappers – it’s dramatic, it’s gorgeous and sometimes golf shots can feel downright dangerous. It’s abilities to tackle all of these senses at once makes this a course with a unique place in the golfing landscape of the world.
The controversial 15th hole, aptly named pirates plank, is one that divides opinion. A dead straight 500 metre par 5 hugging the edge of a cliff in its entirety along the flattest land on the golf course offering absolutely no room for error as it narrows the closer you get to the green. It may well be the most dramatic dead straight and flat hole in the world, where you may well be better off hitting an 6 iron three times than attempting to hit driver. This is a hole which in any other location in the world would be thrown in the ‘boring basket’, but the beauty of the Cape excuses all, and may be many people’s favourite hole. In special places like this, beauty often overrides the architecture.
Cape Kidnappers offers a bit of everything to golfers. The scenery is outrageous, filled with Ocean and cliffs as far as the eye can see. The trademark Doak bunkering is fantastic, both visually and strategically, the varieties in size and shape seem to have a gravitational pull much greater than their stature. The greens are as good as anywhere you will find- running fast, firm and pure their diversity in complexes makes many approaches a guessing game first time round and shots around the green become far more interesting. Tee shots offer a mix of tight, wide, blind and forced carries – a unique blend of challenges which force decision making and a careful assessment of risk-reward.
The great thing about Kidnappers is that you’ll hit shots that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, the routing plays into its surroundings and the beauty of the landscape, whilst demanding accurate golf. Hitting an iron with your ball on the edge of a 150 metre cliff is a reality sure to get the blood pumping! Cape Kidnappers offers plenty of variety in hole design and length, my only wish is that Doak had found a way to incorporate a drop shot par 3 along the coastline and a couple of driveable par 4s. Across a special routing of a golf course, I think these would take it to another level.
Playing golf on the edge of the world is a crazy thought, but Cape Kidnappers made me feel as though it was meant to be that way. Doak has found a way to create an engaging layout across all of the 18 holes, balancing clifftop drama with inland excellence. It’s a unique experience in the golfing world and one that should never be passed up!
Booking a Tee Time
Cape Kidnappers is extremely available at all times of the year. You will be able to book a tee time a few weeks in advance all year around through their online platform HERE
Where to Stay
Staying on site would be the elite option, and an absolute treat, however for the budget conscious I would suggest Napier is a decent place to base yourself! There are plenty of waterfront hotel options available at reasonable prices.
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
- Hastings Golf Club
- Napier Golf Club
What to do in the Area
- Visit wineries! Te Mata, Craggy Range and Church Road are 3 favourites
- Visit the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers
- Hike up Te Mata Peak