The Peppers Carrington Resort is located on the beautiful Karikari Peninsula in the north of New Zealand, and opened for business in the year 2000. The setting is quite unique with glorious views over the expansive white sand coastline, as well as more rural views of the surrounding Carrington Farms, and the Karikari Estate winery...
The golf course site is equally diverse, and is routed to take advantage of different types of terrains- from rolling hills, to wetlands. Architect Matt Dye ( nephew of Pete Dye ) is the man responsible, and he has done a good job. The course is nicely bunkered, and strategically strong. Some of the bunkering has boarding, giving it a unique look. It must be a calling card of the Dye family to do this- but in this case Matt Dye has used ti tree for the boarding- giving it a more rustic look- and definitely a point of difference!
Other points of interest were the 150 yard markers made of petrified rock, and the Maori totem poles on each tee. It was all very New Zealand!
Dye has been able to mould his course into the landscape to take full advantage of the amazing vistas that surround it. But those expecting a links course would be off the mark. Despite the proximity to the ocean, and sand dunes all around the course is really an inland parkland course, and the fairways are kikuyu.
The course is exposed to the winds off the ocean, and the wind is a major factor on the golf course.
It all makes for a very interesting game of golf. I felt the front nine was more dramatic, and more compelling. From hole 3 the momentum built through a variety of exciting golf holes. The short par 4 fifth demands a decision- do you have a go at the green, or lay up to the safe ground visible from the tee?
Hole six has a longish carry from the tee over wetland to a very tight fairway wedged between a hill and wetlands down the left. The second shot to a green beside the water is just gorgeous.
The par 3 seven is all water carry, and although not overly long- is the hardest hole on the course. Everyone will take a picture here!
With 5 tees on every hole, Carrington caters for all levels of golfers- it is a championship course off the tips, and very forgiving off the front red tees. On the par 3 seventh hole over water the red tees were over the water beside the green- making it the shortest hole I have ever seen!
Overall I found the green structures and bunkering surrounds to be quite interesting. In some cases the greens were enormous- perhaps designed to cater for the strong winds. There was plenty of movement in the greens, but without being silly- and this affords the luxury of giving Carrington multiple pin positions on many of the greens, thus changing the nature of the approach. I liked that!
However on the down side up to nine of the green surfaces cannot be seen from the approach, and so the first time player has no real idea of what he is hitting to.
Another interesting addition to the golfing landscape here at Carrington are the park benches which adorn many tees, perhaps encouraging the golfer to sit and take in the amazing vistas. The benches are covered in lichen, giving a clue to the climate in thes parts. But they look terrific!
Perhaps walkers will need to take a seat from time to time because the routing does cover some territory, with lots of ups and downs and sizeable walks between green and tee on a number of occassions. For most this will be a cart course.
The Peppers Carrington Resort provides quality accommodation in the form of spacious lodge rooms with wonderful views situated right in the heart of the complex, and also villas some 100 metres away. First class dining is provided, and activities include tennis, and trail walks to the majestic sand dunes.
Also in walking distance is the associated Karikari Estate winery & cafe- a boutique establishment providing very nice wines including a pinotage which I rather liked. I recommend lunch with a 5 wine taster- it's a great way to sample the wines and have a bite to eat...
The Carrington Resort can be included in The Travelling Golfer Tours. See Destinations: New Zealand for further information
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