Blog 116 – Willunga

Course 16 for 2021, Willunga, SA

Tight, amongst the grapevines

Nomadic_golfer : March 2021

Par 70, 5553m, green fee $38, Slope 125

5 par 3s from 112-142m, 10 par 4s from 260-391m, 3 par 5s from 456-548m

Willunga is a quaint old town of 2.5k people at the foot of the massive Willunga Hill, famous for a gruelling stage of the Tour Down Under bicycle race. It is in the beautiful McLaren Vale wine region and the golf course is nestled between my old high school, vineyards and the town itself.

The golf course setting is what this region is about; a creek wanders through the southern section of the course and vineyards surround. Water comes into play on a number of holes via the old creek which was the centrepiece of the original 9 hole course, and a couple of other water hazards that were part of an upgrade to 18 holes that took place in the late 80’s, with only 4 holes on the original land. Very tight fairways, with lots of similar small to medium sized gums lining both sides of the newer fairways but they do offer a route out on most occasions. Some large old gums are present on the original parcel of land. Kikuyu fairways with small patches of couch that were ok, medium to large bent greens of which the majority were very true and had good cover but were quite soft and medium paced.

It is very difficult to hit fairways here and there are numerous non-driver holes. It does feel as though the course is constrained by land availability, it’s a little claustrophobic. The par 3’s are interesting, but short with none of the 5 one-shotters over 140m. My favourite hole is the 133m 14th, which has a very long, narrow green with a drop off to a creek on the left and bunkers right catching the bail out, which then requires a difficuly trap shot to a green sloping away from you. I also like the quirky and much-discussed 460m par 5 4th. After the standard tight drive, the hole opens up and the green is set directly beyond a dam requiring a blind 70m carry for anyone going direct; a tough and daunting task if you attempt this with your 2nd. There is an option to go around the dam but this is likely your 3rd, then 4th shots.

Overall, this is a shortish course in a magic setting. It puts pressure on your driving, but a good short game will get you lots of pars here in any case.