As a teen, Michigan-raised Jim Rohrstaff became interested in golf after visiting a relative's course in California.
"I started playing at 14 and fell in love with it immediately. Golf is very addictive. As a kid, I worked out that I could play for free if I worked at a course," he said, telling of how he started out as a caddie and worked at a driving range.
He admits to having unusual interests as a youngster, also studying houses sales adverts: "It wasn't like my family moved around a lot and bought and sold houses," said the son of a secondary school teacher.
Rohrstaff, 37, now with Auckland-headquartered Legacy Partners, works with Michael Pleciak on Tara Iti, New Zealand's most exclusive new golf club/residential estate with invitation-only membership limited to about 300 members.
That beachfront course, north of Auckland between Mangawhai-Pakiri, opened on October 1 and could become one of the world's top 50 courses. It was developed by New Zealand resort specialist John Darby and American Ric Kayne joined him part-way into the planning, which is where Rohrstaff came into the picture, working for Legacy Partners which is marketing residences around the estate.
The former professional golfer emigrated to New Zealand last year with his wife and two young sons. They bought a house in Auckland and he works off Z-Pier, Westhaven.
His career married his twin interests in property and golf. For seven years, he worked for American golf course and housing master-planning developer DMB Inc, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, in various roles, including as director of sales.
"I worked on several large-scale developments. I began selling custom home sites at Santaluz, in Rancho Santa Fe and then moved on to launch properties in Arizona and Texas."
He also worked on the development of California's The Bridges @ Rancho Santa Fe.
Clubs in that league have joining fees in the US$150,000-plus range, along with pricey annual membership fees hovering around the US$30,000 range.
"These are equity clubs, so you get your money back when you sell your membership because the value of those memberships is equity in the club and its assets [the land, infrastructure, clubhouse, etc]. You actually have shares in the club, unlike in New Zealand where you pay a smaller joining fee and have no equity. Equity golf clubs are very common in the US and that is a model that we are using with Tara Iti," Rohrstaff said.
More recently, he was the broker at California's majestic The Vintage Club, one of America's most prestigious and ultra-exclusive private country clubs tucked into a natural cove at the base of Eisenhower Mountain in Indian Wells.
He and Kayne travelled to New Zealand a number of times before Rohrstaff agreed to migrate, partly focused on developing Tara Iti but also on the many other properties owned by Darby and Kayne's New Zealand Land Fund 2 GP.