Doak pays a visit to Cape Kidnappers


In preparation for the Kiwi Challenge at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, golf course architect Tom Doak paid a visit recently to his award-winning course. Despite opening barely five years ago, he’s already impressed with how quickly the course has established itself.

“Cape Kidnappers was the next great piece of property I had to work with after Pacific Dunes,” said the 48-year-old former assistant of Pete Dye. Similar to Pacific Dunes, Cape Kidnappers is situated atop a bluff along the east coast of New Zealand’s northern island, and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

It is recognized by one ranking organization as the fourth best course of the last 50 years.

Doak is particularly fond of the closing six holes, beginning with No. 13, short par 3 set on the cliff’s edge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hunter Mahan is fond of that hole as well. That’s where he started his birdie-fest in last year’s closing round of the Kiwi Challenge, making four birdies and an eagle from holes 13-17 to edge Anthony Kim in a playoff.

“I walked the back nine with (NBC announcer) Mark Rolfing last year and when Hunter Mahan made birdie on 13 I think the players took that as a signal to start shooting at the flags. I know how good the pros are, but watching Hunter down the stretch was somewhere between fun and frightening when you are a golf course architect.”

The second-annual Kiwi Challenge is a four-man event that features returnees Mahan and Kim, as well as newcomers Camilo Villegas and Sean O’Hair. The event takes place November 11-12 and airs on NBC November 14-15.