Kiwi Call II – Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
Here’s the second installment of my New Zealand adventure. Enjoy.
I visited Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club which is a 45-minute drive north of Wellington; New Zealand’s capital, and a world away from the extravagance of The Hills.
Here there is tradition, sandy soils and rippled fairways. With the Kapiti Coast providing sea breezes, Paraparaumu is a true links test defined by pot bunkers and uneven stances. Designed in 1949 by Alex Russell, onetime partner of Dr Alister MacKenzie, this is golf in its purest form seasoned by salty air and sandy lies. So authentic was it I had to remind myself that I was in New Zealandand not Scotland.
“I loved it instantly,” noted former New Zealand Open champion Peter Thomson. “We have nothing like it in Australia.” While the five times Open Championship winner clearly has a soft spot for this links layout, it turns out it is also a bit of a one-off in New Zealand as well.
“We don’t have a lot of classic links,” says general manager Leo Barber, “and links golf is a particular taste, so not everyone gets it. International visitors from the UKand Europe love it, while some Americans don’t.”
Debates around the merits of links golf reverberate around clubhouses the world over. In my opinion, Paraparaumu is a little slice of links heaven going for a song at NZ$150. For all the right reasons, it encourages you to play the ball on the ground to use the contours to get the ball close, especially when it’s windy.
“The wind is a big part of Paraparaumu,” says Barber. “It’s something we embrace, along with firm surfaces and brown grass. We let the course change with the seasons – it’s not springtime all year round. In the middle of summer it will bake and go golden, and in the winter it will turn green and play a little softer. That’s golf; it changes with the seasons.”