Designed by American course architect Tom Doak, Tara Iti GC was laid out amid the dunes north of Te Arai Point, a favored headland among Northland surfers. The course is slated to open for member play in October.
Otherwise, this stretch of beach, some 11 kilometers in length, spreading north from a surf break known as “The Forestry”, remains largely undiscovered, despite its location less than 100 km from the Auckland Harbor Bridge.
Today, the only finished structure at the Te Arai is the Tara Iti clubhouse, designed by Auckland-based Cheshire Architects. The complete build-out plan at Te Arai calls for just 46 individual home sites across 600 hectares of freehold land. Buyers may acquire home sites or completed residences, all boast access to the community’s 5.5 kilometers of Pacific Ocean frontage.
Tom Doak’s course design at Tara Iti Golf Club (the par-4 7th, reachable but devilish, pictured above) differs from his only previous work in New Zealand, Cape Kidnappers GC in Hawkes Bay, where the soil is not sand-based and cliff-side golf holes sit hundreds of feet above the surf.
Tara Iti GC instead occupies the sandy dunescape along the beach itself. While this “links land” environment is rare (and prized across the golfing world), Doak has worked there before: at Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Oregon, USA; at Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania, Australia; at Sebonack GC on Long Island, just east of New York City. All maintain places among the world’s top 100 golf courses, according to GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest.
Doak, club principals and a few special guests had the opportunity to test-drive Tara Iti during an April sneak preview event (the opening is planned for 1 October 2015).
“Once a golf course routing is finished, we start building holes in some sort of sequence that makes sense for construction purposes, and we pretty much never walk the course in order from 1 to 18 until it’s ready to open,” Doak said.
“So, what I appreciated most about Tara Iti during this recent visit was the pacing and rhythm of it. What also struck me is how much it plays like a links, and how fun that is. You can’t take your eye off the ball until it stops rolling, and C.J. (Kreuscher, the course superintendent) has the playing surface so tight, the ball is still rolling long after you think it might stop.
“I played in April with everyone from a tour pro (Daniel Chopra) to 18-handicaps, and they all had smiles on their faces the whole time. And I couldn’t help but smile myself when someone would compare the place to Royal Dornoch or Cypress Point.”
Because of his track record working in the links environment, Doak was the only course architect considered for Tara Iti.