Tara Iti continued….

I’m not going to bore you with descriptions of every shot, but I will provide a few more highlights of my go around at Tara Iti.

One of the mind-blowing revelations I had during my visit was about course set-up.  Ryan told me that EVERY day, there is a dedicated course set-up artist.  He walks the entire course every morning with a cup cutter and bucket of sand.  He looks at the forecast for temperature, wind, precip., etc. and decides upon a fair and fun set-up that will allow for variety and interest.  He moves the tees and changes the cups accordingly.  Due to the incredibly stiff NO CARTS policy, he does this every day walking.  What an incredible opportunity to connect with the land you help maintain and gain appreciation for the angles available.  Just another reason Tara Iti is one of the fore-thinking clubs of our time.  No wonder they have been met with such high acclaim in its first few years of opening!

The 4th is a short 4 that can be driveable if the course set-up and wind allow.  With an uphill approach, it is imperative to play the angles game for your approach.  For example, as we played to a right hole location, you would absolutely need to come in from the left side of the centerline hazard (a rather large bunker complex dividing the fairway) if you wanted to attack the pin.  You could also bail 20-30 feet left of the pin and take your 4 and move on.  I opted for the latter option and happily moved on to our first 5 par of the day.

What I really enjoyed about the routing of Tara Iti looking back on it is the variety of good long connecting holes.  It is hard to know if there was a lot of sand moved in the routing, but I would have never guessed (as I mentioned before) that most of the site was forested.  That is perhaps a sore spot for me in that a lot of trees had to be removed to create this magnificent property.  Nevertheless, I thought Doak and his team did a fabulous job transitioning between the highs and lows of the property with the long holes.  Each of the holes offer generous driving corridors and begs the long hitter to take on the hazards protecting each greensite.  I would need to play the course more to know what strategy is most fitting to my game, but I would profess that laying up to a strategic angle would probably be the more beneficial option on most of these holes given the challenging shots from the green surrounds if you miss on the “going for it” shot.  Long story short, I would say that what is best about these holes is that even after a great drive, you are left thinking about how you want to play your next shot.  It is not AIRGOLF (hit it as high and far as possible).  Most of the approaches into the 5 pars require a low running shot to take advantage of ground slopes that can promote your ball closer to the hole (even from shorter distances)!  For a variety of golfers this approach makes the game more fun especially during matches as the situation may encourage to play a shot that you normally would not.

The 6th gave me a little deja vu of the first at Bandon Trails with an uphill approach framed by a couple dunes on either side and back.  The second shot into this hole is certainly easier with the framing dunes as the view from the lower portion of the fairway is quite limited.  All in all, I enjoyed playing this hole from the shorter teeing ground that allowed for more angles to get to the “upper fairway.”  Wind direction and intensity will totally change strategy of this hole and there was a completely unattainable left side of the fairway that might open up the look to the approach even more.

One of my more memorable shots came next at the 7th – a short 4 par just begging you to thread the needle and run up your drive.  Downwind, the hole looks like an incredibly long 3 par that you much land 40 yards short into an upslope to kill some speed and run up to the well protected SHALLOW green.  Into the wind, you must bail out to the right to play a similar shot (low and well judged to the shallow green) OR with a lofted iron that is precise to within 5-10 yards of landing zone.  Playing it downwind, I took out my trusty Louisville Golf persimmon 1 wood and aimed down the left side to cut 10 yards and carry the waste area down the left side.  My brain visualized the ball to hit a small upslope to help take the speed off the ball and start rolling on the ground up and over the massive swale that falls gently to the green.  My hope would be that the friction of the 40 yards of fairway roll might slow the ball enough to have the ball slow on the green to stop before the rear bunker.  Somehow, everything happened almost as described and my ball cozied up to within 10 feet of the flag.  A subtle break took my eagle try just a few inches left of the hole allowing for my 2nd birdie of the day.


Walking around Mangawhai

After an action packed day 1, I was barely able to keep my eyes open past 8pm, but an incredibly relaxing slumber left me ready for the day!  I was without a vehicle as Ryan had to work the next few mornings.  So, I ventured out from my home base (for the next 6 days of so) on foot.  I actually got a ride to the surf beach from Ryan’s landlord, Liz who was awfully friendly and unbelievably knew of my home Redmond.  Apparently, when Liz (a Kiwi) was in grade school, her parents hosted an exchange student from Redmond, Oregon?!  So, she had kept in touch with her friend from childhood and actually visited her in her 20’s in Redmond – such a small world!

After she had dropped me off, I was going to walk along the beach to see the Cliffs Walk (a highly talked about local short walk up on the seaside cliffs and back along the shore).  As I walked around the surf beach, I stumbled upon a nice short climb to a lookout called the “Goldschmidt Track” and I decided to walk up it.  I figured this was a short up and over type of viewpoint walk based on the direction of the trail, so I continued on.  Being a “newbie” to town, I didn’t realize how far the walk was from the beach to the “town” where I hoped to grab a morning coffee before my bigger hike of the day.  Well, as it turns out, I chose a longer than a short viewpoint walk.  After going up and down over the coastal “heads” several times and perhaps ~2 hours, I ended up at the Village of Mangawhai Heads and was able to get my coffee (I learned all about Flat Whites and how much Kiwis loved their coffee).  With my newfound caffeine induced vigor, I headed BACK to the surf beach after picking up a couple Avos from the roadside stand and readied myself for the hike on the cliffs.

What an incredibly calming and meditative stretch of sand to get to the trailhead.  The mid tide lapped up against tide pools and rock formations as it stretched toward the native grasses lining the shore.  As I got to the trail sign, I noticed that the return walk along the beach would be impossible during mid and high tide.  I hadn’t heard this before, but it seemed as if tide was mid and going out, so I didn’t think too much of it.  *Foreshadowing* The climb to the edges of the cliffs was several stories (I would guess I climbed about 20-25 stories right off the bat) high in mostly even constructed steps.  Once, I made it into the “saddle” if you will, the walk wove in and out of cliffside views and native vegetation.  There were several moments that carved through dense shaded forests only to make the revealing opening that much more special!

As I progressed up high, I started to see the awesome trail alongside the water for the beach return.  There was a very secluded alcove with white sand that I really wanted to check out, but I also noticed how close the waves were crashing to the cliff walls.  I started guessing that I was not indeed traveling during low tide.  So, I continued on and started descending toward the beach in equally as steep staircases as I had previously ascended.  When I got down to the rocky beach, I noticed a beautiful rock arch that seemingly was the way back.  Unfortunately, about 3-5 feet of water was rolling into that arch and then receding back to the sea.  I reckoned that wasn’t very safe to be walking through, so I decided to wait a bit and see if the water was moving out at all.  After snacking on an avo and reading a bit of my book, I walked over to the arch, took off my shoes and tried to peek around the corner to scope out the challenge laid out in front of me. I got about 8 feet in and the water was still coming in furiously, so I decided to be responsible and turn back.  I would return the way I came and enjoy the cliffs moving in the opposite direction.  Luckily, the views only got better and the clear skies gave way to the beautiful islands offshore.  As I descended back down to the beach, I noticed some dark skies rolling in that started to obscure the islands offshore (Taranga and Sail Rock).  Almost like clockwork, as soon as I sat down at the surf beach to read my book, the sky started to spit.  I wasn’t going to risk getting stuck in a quick passing deluge so I heeded the warnings of the booming rumblings and took off from my perch of sandy paradise.

All in all today was a great relaxing day of walking, meditating, observing, and exploring the Mangawhai Heads.

Travel to Northland – NZ


3 planes went up and came down rather smoothly – the 24ish hours of travel were mitigated by the overall excitement and adrenaline of my inaugural trip to Oceania and completely across the Pacific.  I’ve been to Israel (3 times), Europe (Ireland) and South America (Peru mainly), but a trip to the South Pacific roused my senses to say the least.

Arriving in Auckland was a bit of a shock to the system having left over 6 inches of snow in Redmond and arriving in full fledged Southern Hemisphere summer in less than a day.  It wasn’t exactly the difference in temperature that was a challenge to accustom myself to, but the difference in length of daylight!  Going from 9 hours of daylight to 15 hours of sun overnight is really strange for your brain to process.  Alas, jetlag was not too bad because New Zealand is actually only 2 hours behind the US (but a day ahead, so really 22 hours ahead).  After a full day of adventure on day 1 (I landed at 6:30am), I was bushed and ready for a great night of acclimating sleep.

I’ll tell more of my day 1 adventure in the next post, as my friend Ryan was kind enough to show off his homeland to me with unabashed hospitality.  He picked me up from the airport, put me up in his beach apartment, showed me his local haunts and delicacies, showed me how to drive on the left side of the road, lent me his car, and so much more.  New Zealand hospitality is off to a roaring start!



New Beginnings

New beginnings

Bandon Dunes OG DMK Golf Kidd

The Modern Golf Club took shape in early 2017 after an unexpected employment change of the founder, Nate Kitt, in late 2016.

More or less, the saying goes, “every end is the beginning of something else.” After taking a hard look at why he became a golf professional in the first place, Nate decided to pursue the concept of The Modern Golf Club. Ideas were continually entering his head and with a little help from friends and family, TMGC chose a focus in producing unique golf-centric opportunities to people coming and going to/from Central Oregon. What would these opportunities entail? Golf trips, events, tournaments, golf coaching, and more. One thing was known, Nate wanted to encourage accessibility to the golf course for all people. The game has meant so much for him throughout his life that he needed to provide the simple OPPORTUNITY for EVERYONE to enjoy it. 

If anything comes from sudden and unexpected circumstances in life, take a moment to think about what is important to you. The rest will usually take care of itself.