Blog 139 – Coober Pedy

Up on the hill for the start, there’s opals in them thar hills!

Course 39 for 2021 – Coober Pedy SA

A near-unique experience

Nomadic_golfer : September 2021

Par 72, 5706m, slope 104, $20 green fee

4 par3s from 120-161m, 10 par4s from 260-408m, 4 par5s from 436-511m

Coober Pedy is the only golf club in the world with reciprocal rights at St Andrews (don’t read the fine print). The course is set in the Opal mining capital of the world, where most residents live underground. 75% of the world’s precious opals come from these parts and you get constant views of the mines and moon-like landscape all over this course. The climate is harsh; < 5 inches of rain p.a.; below zero nights in winter and searing high 40’s reached in the summer. You won’t find any water hazards here, just one big bunker.

It’s an 18 hole course with 4 par 5s and 4 par 3s and not one blade of grass. You carry your own small piece of fake-turf. The synthetic grass tees and your little mat are the only green objects you will see in your 4 hours here. In a strange way, it is beautiful here, aided by the contrast in colours not normally seen on a golf course. Make sure you bring 18 tees and it’s probably best if you use an orange ball as it is very difficult to see the white ball against the (gradered) white fairways.

It is a different (almost unique) golfing experience; the ball can run a long way, and can go sideways at times but it is more manicured than it’s full Opal brother, White Cliffs GC, as they use a grader on the fairways here. The scrapes are quite large but very thick, and the rough is strewn with rocks, salt bush and the odd dry creek bed. There are enough long holes (511m par5 7th, 411m par4 2nd for example) to stretch you, and enough short 4s and 5s to give you birdie chances, but with the bounces and the exposure to the desert winds, yardages can easily go out the window here.

There are lots of memorable holes, starting with a walk up a man-made hill above the clubhouse to play a downhill 160m par 3, straight into the prevailing breeze. The 2nd is a ripper, 410m par 4 turning slightly right, bordered by an old creek bed which you can cut a bit off, but beware the rocky grave that awaits if you don’t make it across. The par 5 5th has a sharp turn left for the second (blind if you have a go at the green) around a rocky hill, with OB and a car racing track if you miss left.

There are a few holes with clearly defined, pure white fairways against reddish rock/ gibber of the rough, making their way uphill, which look magnificent from the tee. The 360m 8th, moving slightly left among some hills, the 440m par 5 14th which snakes both ways and has a line of scrub crossing the fairway at about 260m is another, as is the steep uphill, drivable par 4 15th.

Overall, golf here is not for the faint hearted. It truly is a different experience, but if you pick the right day & time and bring a positive attitude without being hellbent on a good score, you will have a lot of fun here.