February 2016, The Renaissance Cup
In February we had the pleasure of hosting 70 friends for the 23rd playing of the Renaissance Cup, at the new Tara Iti Golf Club in New Zealand. The purpose of the event is to gather a bunch of people from all facets of the game of golf, get them to play one of our newest courses multiple times, and get their feedback on our work. It wasn't a bad week for Tourism New Zealand, either: we had guests from the U.K., Australia, China and Japan, a half dozen New Zealanders including the golf professionals at Titirangi and Cape Kidnappers, and 33 players who flew from America to compete and to enjoy the beauty of our favorite destination.
The course was more than ready … though it opened officially in November, the club has only 55 members so far, and the Renaissance Cup was its busiest weekend ever. The 100% fescue playing surface presented by the superintendent [and my golf partner for the event, C.J. Kreuscher] was as good as I've ever played on … you could putt from 50 yards off the green with ease, as my playing partner for a Friday practice round, Sir Bob Charles, gracefully demonstrated on the par-4 12th.
Hypnotized by the wonderful tempo of Sir Bob's swing, armed with a partner in C.J. who knew every inch of the course, and shepherded around the course by our friend Leo Barber, the greenkeeper at New Zealand's other great links, Paraparaumu Beach, I played well enough to help us all the way to the final:
In our first match, against our client from China, Han Ziding, and his friend Tian Zhuangzhuang, an esteemed film director and producer, my birdie at the par-4 3rd to tie Mr. Han stopped the bleeding after a slow start,.
In match 2, we prevailed on the back nine against Peter and Heather Wood, longtime friends who had been early investors in Barnbougle Dunes.
In match 3, we upset the Titirangi professional, Doug White, who'd shot 65 the day before, partnered with my former intern Clyde Johnson, who worked on the construction crew for Tara Iti from start to finish. C.J. was one under par on his own ball in that one.
The semifinal and final matches are in alternate-shot format, rather than best-ball, so I had to step up my game if we were to have a chance to win. In the semifinal, we beat PerryGolf founder Gordon Dalgleish and his partner Barry Hyde, 1 up, when I holed a 15-footer for par at the long 9th. In the final, we lost the long 12th to go one down to golf photographer Larry Lambrecht and his partner, Thomas Wall, when I hit behind our second shot on an awkward stance from 200 yards out and missed the ball completely! But that proved to be the turning point of the match, as C.J. and I parred the next four holes and won all four to take the trophy, 3 & 2.