Nomadic_golfer : October 2021
Par 72, 5944m Blue, slope 128, $50 green fee
4 par3s 129-194m, 10 par4s 276-386m, 4 par5s 437-492m Blue
This place is super-pretty; and pretty damn good. I last played here in the early 90s when it was a dry, old natural looking course winding around these massive old gums & a few pines, with black sand/ oil scrapes at the end of the holes; it has been transformed. What started out in the 1930’s, received a Murray Crafter redesign in the mid 90’s with big, bold green complexes to complement the striking natural assets this tract of land already possessed. The scenery is spectacular, with seemingly endless land to work in and those majestic gums, everywhere.
The green complexes are large, undulating, and are accompanied by some very prominent bunkering. The greens are bentgrass (unfortunately had just been cored before my round), with a hint of santa-anna present in greens 1&2, fairways are santa-anna, and look like they fight the parramatta grass but are pretty good, while a few of the greens have fescue surrounds. The tees are santa-anna, and were a little patchy and lumpy. It’s not meticulously manicured, but it’s natural and suits the vibe to a tee.
Most fairways are on the generous side, but there’s a good mix of width, plenty of fairway bunkers and a first layer of rough that isn’t too penal. But miss on the tree line or wider and there is some gnarly growth out there, golf ball graveyard stuff. I played the blues (circa 6000m) and that was a good test. [There is a black tee option, which from observation I assume would be around 6300m and that would be tough.]
The course has a bit of everything; from a quirky, almost driveable opening par 4 to reachable par 5s, plenty of tough holes requiring length and accuracy, as well as variety of shot shapes and approach length. There are lots of natural undulations, that are used well, along with those large gums, but the highest points on the property make for the most spectacular holes (4 & 5, 15 & 16). 4 is 360m, moving gently left from an elevated tee, gums down both sides, flicking back slightly to the right to a well bunkered, narrow green. 5 is 386m and straight, coming back up towards that 4th tee with a very prominent fairway bunker in the right, to an elevated, 2-tiered green sitting on the horizon, with gums as a backdrop and large gaping bunkers staring you down as you approach.
15 is a short (335m) par 4, left to right with medium size trees on the inside corner giving you a few options off the tee. It turns right and uphill steeply where you gaze straight into the mouth of a cavernous 3-leaf-clover shaped bunker guarding the front left of this diagonally-tiered green. Walk to the top of the hill after this beauty and you find the real jewel here; the 180m 16th drops sharply from the tee to a green way down in the valley, surrounded by gums and sand. The view from the tee is exhilarating and knee-knocking; it’s first tee at Victor Harbor stuff. I hope my photos do it justice.
There are plenty of other strong holes, as this is a seriously good track with awesome views and magnificent surrounds. It asks you to make many decisions and execute well. Condition isn’t quite at the city top4 level but you wouldn’t expect that. I’m definitely sold, playing here on a near-cloudless early morning, with the sun streaking through the gaps in the trees was magic. And speaking of ‘sold’, the course is currently on the market. It is owned by a group of vignerons & vintners who have lovingly kept it going through tough times and the operation has in more recent times shown a good profit and solid growth in members. Going, going ……..