Blog 170 – Launceston

Course 70 for 2021 – Launceston GC, Tas

Par 3 13th hole

Grand old course, balanced layout, very well maintained

Nomadic_golfer : December 2021

Par 72, 5965m, slope 121, $50 green fee

3 par3s 144-186m, 12 par4s 239-386m, 3 par5s 450-526m

This was Tasmania’s first 18 hole course. The club was established in 1889, this course in 1901 and was Tassie’s only 18 hole course until 1921. Carved out of natural bushland and well known for its condition, the fairways have some fescue and native rye and were very nice in early summer while the bentgrass greens were recovering from a heavy coring about 2 weeks earlier but look excellent.

There are some magnificent tall gums, a mixture of other native bushland flora and a couple of small rows of pines. The ambience through the opening holes, early on a summer morning was a highlight. The routing of holes 2 through 5, located in the middle of the course, has you thinking you are out in the countryside and the sun peaking through gaps in the well-wooded rough on these holes was magnificent.

The layout is well bunkered (every hole), with other defences including a number of holes with heavily wooded rough (though grasses out wide aren’t too thick), a couple of water hazards and I’m told the greens are usually very quick. The make-up has only 3 par 3’s and 3 par5’s which always makes it feel difficult too.

The 13th hole (Spion Kop) is the signature tune (155m over a deep valley with OB left, a lake right and a rocky spillway weaving down to the bottom of the valley. Trees left (where the prevailing breeze comes from) add to the challenge, meaning you must shape it a little right to left, or a dead straight one at least. The par5 2nd is most memorable, 526m turning right through a narrow-ish gap at about 220m, and flanked by gums down it’s entire length before coming to a slightly elevated green with bunker short left. And that stretch of 2-5 is the highlight for me, located in the middle of the course, enveloped by those gums, and it packs some punch too; the 525m par5, followed by a hard left-turning 376m par4, picturesque 145m par3, and straightaway 370m par4 across a little stream to a bunkered green set among some grassy mounds and a beautiful backdrop of native trees.

It does have an odd sequencing of holes with 4 of the 5 long par4’s within a 6 hole stretch early on, and 3 short par 4’s to finish. I do wonder whether they have ever played or considered the nines the other way around, this would avoid both: i) the opening tee shot into the rising sun; and ii) that soft finish. The course and level of challenge seems to flow in chunks of holes. It is a leisurely opener with a drivable par4, then hits you with its hardest stuff over the next 6 holes, settles back into a sort of median difficulty, and then finishes with 4 of the better scoring opportunities.

Overall, this is a well maintained track on fairly flat terrain. The balanced layout provides scope for a good mix of attack and defence, and has a fantastic young man in Will White as resident pro. Bill Husband served as pro here for many years, retiring in 2009, after moving to Tassie in 1972.