It was a high bright day in Auckland and Bill and I were heading out for a round of golf on a true links course touted the second best golf course in the Auckland region and ranked #16 of New Zealand’s top golf courses.
It’s misleading to say that I was going to golf for, in truth, I was only along for the ride. It had been appalling weather for the last few days and I had serious cabin fever. A non-playing round of golf in the newly unwrapped sun without having to once hit that wilful little ball sounded like a good antidote. I didn’t even have to walk. We took a cart so I could ride in queenly comfort, although it was only the seagulls that caught my royal wave.
The Muriwai Championship Links is 40km west of Auckland, where a wide stretch of camel-coloured sand begins its yawning stretch towards the north and to the south, the land begins to rear towards the Waitakere Ranges.
It is one of the few courses not affected by rain as water drains quickly through its black sand soil. We’d had three days of torrential rain and I didn’t see one puddle.
“It’s an all-year course,” manager of this coast playground, Andrew Jackson, tells me, “dry in winter and well-watered in summer. Players can use carts and trundlers in wet weather without fear of damaging the fairways. Muriwai is one of the few courses in New Zealand that is in great condition all year round. In winter, it is dry, and in summer, we irrigate the fairways so that they remain green and soft. The only real challenge is the on-shore wind, which can be powerful at times and can put beginners off their game.”
This makes little difference to the diehards. Bill plays at Muriwai most weeks and says he’s used to it. “Wind makes little difference to the score,” he says. “You might lose 30 metres off your drives when you play against the wind but make it up again when it’s behind you. You can’t blame a poor round on the wind, although some people try.”
Today, only a gentle zephyr brushes the grass of the wide undulating fairways. The holes that run close to the beach are separated by black sand dunes blotched with toi toi, marine grasses, and low bushes. And to my non-golfer’s eye, it’s the landscape that is the Muriwai Golf Links most stunning asset. Many fairways run close to the moody west-coast beach.
Views from the tees, the greens, and the fairways stretch across the vast uninterrupted sky and watery expanse of the Tasman Sea to the far horizon. I breathed in the briny air and felt the sea breeze running its fingers through my hair. Cabin fever was a distant memory.
One of the features of a links course is that there are few trees to ensnare catapulting golf balls. But I did spot a fair number of green-side bunkers that for someone of my golfing standard would have proved a fatal attraction. The few Norfolk pines trees that dot the fairways cause little obstruction. They stand tall and solitary like watchful policemen.
The players I accompanied were all male. As the token female, I was tolerated with good humour. Although Muriwai is a championship links, the atmosphere is friendly and informal.
The 19th is spacious, the view over the fairways and the sea is riveting, and I can recommend the generously filled, home-made sandwiches, and wholesome soup. Apart from the boisterous beach, this golfers’ paradise is surrounded by many other activities that are worthy of attention—bush, beach, and clifftop walks; horse riding; cycling; and surfing.
After our round, while the men sat around drinking their beer and discussing their birdies, I drank my soup and then headed off to find some birdies of my own—at the gannet colony just up the road.
Win a game at Muriwai Golf Club
Muriwai Golf Club has provided us with a fantastic prize pack of an 18-hole round of golf for four people, with golf carts included, valued at up to $500.
Competition ends 27 July 2018.