When I returned to New Zealand after 10 years in Australia we decided to live in Ponsonby because it was so central but when my wife “discovered” Titirangi I knew that’s where we’d end up.
We’d been in Ponsonby for six months when we realised living beside all the young, party people wasn’t our scene. One day my wife headed to Piha with a friend and got “lost” in Titirangi. She came home declaring the west Auckland bush-clad, sea-circled suburb was where we should live.
I was rapt. Titirangi had secretly found its way on to my short list of desirable locations but only because of the golf course. I’d been fixated on Titirangi ever since I saw Bob Charles win a New Zealand Open at the course (back in the day when golf was shown on TV all afternoon). I didn’t know anything about Alister MacKenzie or his design ethos back then but I’ve come to love what his architecture represents.
We moved to Titirangi, which means Fringe of Heaven, later that year and 15 years later we’re not leaving. Ever.
And I’m living my dream as a member at Titirangi. To me it’s the best course in Auckland.
The course has changed dramatically since I first joined in 2005. The drainage has improved out of sight since Greg Swafford became the head greenkeeper in 2011.
There’s been substantial remodelling work on the first, fifth, sixth, 15th and 17th holes to bring them more in line with Dr MacKenzie’s original vision, based on drawings the club still has.
And the course is working hard at removing old trees, opening views. There are tighter mowing lines around the greens to create a look and feel more reminiscent of MacKenzie’s great design: Royal Melbourne.
The course is not long by modern standards but it’s a lesson in shot-making, shaping, where to miss, and the importance of being below the hole on the treacherous greens. Second shots are critical, there’s just enough elevation changes, forced carries and angled fairways to keep you thinking without wearing you down mentally.
The par-3s are all gems but I’m love with the multi-tiered 14th green that tapers from a wide high-point to a narrow low-point with well-concealed dangers: a meandering creek-gully that swallows short and long-left shots, as well as bunkers left and right.