Nomadic_golfer : October 2021
Par 72, 5972m, slope 128, $40 green fee
3 par3s 131-185m, 12 par4s 314-402m, 3 par5s 449-464m
Beautiful setting among pine plantations a couple of kms out of this 6000 people town 350km SE of Adelaide, yet all the holes are framed by gums and other natives, with no pines on the course. The course occupies sides of a gently sloping hill with the 1st tee, clubhouse etc at the top. After deciding to upgrade from scrapes to greens in the 50’s, Vern Morcom put his stamp on the course and was behind a lot of the design as the new layout opened in 1958.
It has a good mix of left to rights and right to lefts, fairways flanked by those established gums, and although the fairway width is on the generous side (especially early), you do need to be able to work the ball both ways on your approaches (depending on pin positions) as the firm greens, well-placed bunkers and nuances dictate. Lacks some teeth with the par 4’s, with only 1 over 365m, but there are lots of doglegs to work the ball into and around. The bentgrass greens’ firmness and the cutting of bunker edges straight off the sides of those greens feels familiar to someone who has played golf in Melbourne for 20 years! They’re not just firm, the greens are of good size, very true, quite quick and a few have run-offs which see the ball bouncing further away if you miss your target.
Despite the prominence of the gums, rough in most parts is cut and there is room between trees for some sort of recovery, so there is typically some hope for for the shot-maker here after missing the fairway. I liked the 5th to 7th stretch: 5 (a 180m par3 on flat ground, big wide green, surrounded by bunkers, thick trees forming a spectacular umbrella-like vista around the green); 6 (517m par 5, fairway bunker down the right which you must flirt with for the best 2nd, as the hole moves 45 degrees left ~100m out with large trees down the left); and 7 (138m par 3, through a chute of trees with bunkers cut into the left of this raised, firm green. Take these left pin positions on at your peril; very Melbourne sand-belt like this one). The par5 14th (a very pretty 477m, moving right to left at just over 200m off the tee, reverse camber on quite a wide fairway meaning you need to take on the trees down the left to get a shot at this picturesque raised well bunkered green, with also has a large fairway bunker about 60m short of the green) appealed also.
Fairways are a mixture of couch and kikuyu and were in very good condition.
Overall, this is a classy golfing property; great condition; championship-like green surfaces and complexes, and a wonderful tree-filled aesthetic without a hint of claustrophobia. The course has been just out of the top 100 public access rankings in recent times; perhaps the 4’s need some more yards for it to take the next step.