By Michael Donaldson
Tara Iti golf course north of Auckland has leapt in to superstardom after the course made its debut at No 29 on the influential Golf magazine's prestigious list of the world's top 100 courses.
Tara Iti, designed by noted American architech Tom Doak, is a privately-owned course located at Te Arai, near Mangawhai. It offers stunning views of the coast line on every hole and employs unique design features that make it on the best links courses in the southern hemisphere.
In coming in at 29th on the list, Tara Iti has jumped ahead of noted major championship-hosting courses such as Royal Birkdale (34th) and Royal St George's (42nd).
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In acknowledging Tara Iti's rise to the top-100, Golf noted that very few course had come in so high in their first ranking.
"Tara Iti jumps onto our World list as one of our highest debuting courses ever. The barely two-year-old course is already acknowledged as the Southern Hemisphere's premier links."
The magazine went on to say the course was so good it would be a perfect British Open layout, if only it were in Britain. In fact it was ranked just one place behind one of the most famed courses in the Open rota, Carnoustie, in Scotland.
"Its enviable location in the dunes along the Pacific Ocean, along with superior fine-fescue fairways and swirls of natural grass and sand, have some reviewers saying it could host an Open tomorrow-if only it were 11,000 miles farther northwest."
Tara Iti's entry means New Zealand has two courses in the top-100, with Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay ranked at 44.
"One of the world's Top 10 when it comes to eye-candy views, the back nine in particular at Cape Kidnappers boasts a sequence of staggeringly dramatic holes, starting with the tiny seaside par-3 13th and peaking with the 650-yard, par-5 15th which falls away on both sides of the fairway and which sports a horizon green perched precariously on a bluff overlooking the sea," wrote Golf magazine.
The top three courses on the list are Pine Valley in New Jersey, Cypress Point in California and St Andrew's in Scotland.