After a far too long hiatus we have again visited the spiritual home of New Zealand Golf. Certainly, I was left wondering why the break had been so long - for kiwi golf fans this should be a regular pilgrimage.
Reflecting after the round my playing partners were full of praise for the hard and fast nature of the links, the smooth greens and undulating fairways. General Manager and Greenkeeper extraordinaire Leo Barber is the driving force behind the re-immergence of the course and what a job he and his team have done!
Hole 1: A semi blind tee shot keeps you guessing at what's to come. Upon cresting the hill, a generous fairway opens out to a friendly green - a classic opening hole.
Hole 2: Bunker/ramp/billiard table pretty much sums up one of the most perilous par 3's in New Zealand. The pin was at the front of the long narrow green, necessitating the need to use the ramp. When the pin is on the back you can land comfortably on the green and let the ball release. Beware the sideways miss, it will add to your score.
Hole 3: This is sleeper hole, all the trouble is left, but keeping too far right will obscure your view to the green. This is classic links deception, all is not what it seems.
Hole 4: Again, this fairway is shared with the previous hole and again a bailout to the right leaves you unsighted. The green is a stunner, long and sweeping left to right.
Hole 5: An epic par 3 that demands accuracy, a sideways miss could lead to a scorecard disaster.
Hole 6: This drivable par 4 looks a pushover on the card, but a miss to either side when the pin is at the back and you have your work cut out for you. It’s a green light when the pin is on the front.
Hole 7: A long par 5 into the prevailing wind with plenty of room right and none left.
Hole 8: Again, the yardage suggests not much but there is a lot going on here. The fairway moves off to the left and the temptation is to play at the green, but from this angle your lies will likely be iffy and a deep pot defends the green - what a hole!
Hole 9: Probably my favourite hole at Paraparumu. A drive left gives you a look at the green between two massive dunes to a perilous green, epic!
Hole 10: A short hole with a creek left and dunes right. Here you have no option but to hit a good shot off the tee. The sharp edge of the left hand side of the green pushes you towards the right hand green side bunker.
Hole 11: A really strong hole, again with trouble left and dunes on the right. The green is a classic punchbowl style. If you plan to use the side ramps make sure you don't leave your ball on top.
Hole 12: An easy par 5 between the two hardest holes on the course, a little bit of a breather.
Hole 13: Ben Crenshaw once said that 17 at St Andrews is such a hard par 4 "because its a par 5". The same could be said here. A drive between two dunes leaves you a long approach to a tabletop green which slopes hard from back to front - brutal!
Hole 14: The 3rd par 3 is short, but the green is small and well-guarded - accuracy is a must here.
Hole 15: A Blind tee shot opens out to a wide fairway and a small green with the patented Par sharp edge and fall away on the left - short but nasty.
Hole 16: Possibly the best par 3 of a fabulous four. This skinny green curves gently from front right to back left and is skirted on the left by a massive mound but a rough hollow. No option here but to execute the shot required.
Hole 17: In my opinion the best par 4 in the country. The fairway moves left around a rough outcrop affording you a good look up the green. Meanwhile a shorter route to the right seems like a good idea but the problem is that the green now lays across you and is protected by bunkers. Keep right and settle for 5.
Hole 18: A nice risk reward finishing 5. There is the opportunity for a great finish here, but beware as bunkers and dunes lurk left and OOB is right.