When I first saw the site for Cape Kidnappers, the scale of it took some getting used to. We had just finished building golf holes at Pacific Dunes 100 feet above the Pacific, but from the cliffs at Cape Kidnappers, you look down at Hawke Bay 130 meters below, and the waves coming to share look like the ripples after you’ve thrown a pebble into a pond.
We could not compete with such drama, so instead we tried to use it as best we could. There are only 40 bunkers on the course, and many of them are unseen, hanging down into a valley well below the fairway or green. It’s the natural tilt of the land toward Hawke Bay that gives the greens their infinity backdrop, and also makes it hard to get your approach to stay on them. Apart from the 15th and 16th holes, the fairways are wider than wide, but it’s amazing to see how golfers’ eyes are drawn to the edge, where a pulled shot can disappear for good.