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Cape Kidnappers

Next venue was the much acclaimed Tom Doak design -Cape Kidnappers.

It is a longer drive than you imagine if you are coming from Taupo because most of the journey on highway 5 is on a scenic winding road through the mountains.

If you are lucky enough to play at Kidnappers or Kauri Cliffs then pray for good weather so you can experience the really spectacular scenery.

It is a long drive just to get from the entrance gates to the course proper where you will receive a very warm welcome - in our case from Kyle Butler and Jonathon McCord, the head professional. I had already seen many aerial photos of Kidnappers so I had some idea of what lay ahead. You can't fully appreciate how spectacular some of the holes are when you are at ground level - you really need to be high above to get the full picture, whereas this was not the case at Kauri Cliffs.

The three par 3's on the front nine were all a good challenge. The 3rd (142 metres from the white,194 blue) is well bunkered front and right. Further right is thick rough and left is down a grassy slope. The 6th is somewhat longer and, for me, needed a strong draw along the right and away from the cliffs along the left side. The 8th is medium length but is carry all the way over a deep gully from which you are unlikely to ever find your ball.

Most of the cliff edge holes are around the 11th to the 16th. On the back nine you also have to sometimes leave your bag and walk to the par 3 tee (eg 13th hole) and then return to the green which is near the green you have previously played. It could be argued that this is a design flaw. On the other hand, this is the only way these clifftop fingers of land could be incorporated into the plan.

One of the most intriguing holes is the par 5, 15th (Index 1) with its narrow fairway and cliff edges along the left and then right behind the green.

Local knowledge helps on many holes such as the 18th where your long second shot to the green needs to hug the left. Anything just right of center will kick hard right and into the thick rough.

Throughout the course there are some demanding carries from the tee but, from the white tees at least, none are too difficult provided you hit a solid drive.

There are 5 sets of tees. For most men the white tees are more than enough of a challenge. Ladies for the most part should be ok from the red tees but there is always the yellow tee option if the carry seems too hard.

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