Blog 182 – Royal Hobart

Course 9 for 2022 – Royal Hobart, Tas

18th green with a setting sun

Our southern-most Royal experience is just that!

Nomadic_golfer : January 2022

Par 72, 5959m, slope 126, $85 green fee

4 par3s 121-192m, 10 par4s 255-405m, 4 par5s 440-503m

The first of my rounds on one of Hobart’s elite courses was no let-down. A quality layout in quality condition. Interestingly, the first edition of this club’s course was a par 80 with a par 7 and 4 par 6s (the ladies par was 89)!! The current site at 7 Mile Beach has hosted the RHGC since 1956. It is beautiful golf course country (gently rolling terrain on a sandy base in natural bushland, surrounded by a pine forest), and has Llanherne and Tasmania GC’s as close neighbours with Matt Goggin’s 7 Mile Beach course in its embryonic stage just down the road too.

The prolific Vern Morcom designed this course, which has Jack Nicklaus as an Aussie Open winner here in 1971 as it’s moment in the sun. As per most of Morcom’s design, the bunkering form and positioning is a highlight (generally shallow), though a number of the fairway bunkers have been made redundant by technology, especially off the whites. Recent progress includes a master-plan to update the course. With a members-first focus and plenty of surplus assets/ land, I expect that there won’t be any financial encumbrances on this venture. It also boasts a history of super players, from the Pearce brothers in the early 1900’s through to the Toogoods and Goggins.

The aesthetic here is first class, driven by the mixture and contrast of the lush playing surfaces against the sea of bunkers, sandy wasteland, host of native trees and the background pines. Playing golf here is a treat, and you’d better get some time to warm up, with 2 x 400m par4s in the first 3 holes.

The bunkering is a standout and the design strategy sound, highlighted by a couple of the mid-length par4 finishing holes in 16 and 18. The subtelty of 18 appealed to me from this strategic viewpoint. It sets up, egging you to hit a hard draw over/ around some gums on the inside left corner of a wide fairway that gently turns left. That side is protected by a couple of large pines and some gnarly stuff past the corner, but there is plenty of room out right if you want to ensure you hit your second from the short stuff, to a tricky narrow, side-sloping green.

Other memorable holes were: the long par5 13th (my favourite and the philosophy reminds me of Tom Doak’s work on the Gunnamatta Course at The National. It is 503m, the tee shot to a very wide fairway with pines right and water left. The tee shot is best placed down the right side to give you the right angles to get your second through a narrowing gap which must find the fairway to hold a shallow green protected by a bunker covering the front); and 14 (389m sweeping gently left, tempting you to take on a dangerous left side protected by water and wasteland).

Downpours a few weeks prior had caused a mysterious water issue with the water-table rising or something peculiar aligned to this, as surface water was still hanging around and bunkers a little leached. It was still in good condition in mid January but this issue did have it a little shy of its peak. It hadn’t impacted the quality of the relatively flat bentgrass putting surfaces however, which were pure, but not at their quickest. The greens were originally bent, poa took over some time back, and the bentgrass is now bouncing back through consistent management.

There are a few fairway grasses, including rye and fescue, with an oversowing process to commence in March. I must add that the pro-shop staff (Matt & Scott) were especially welcoming for a visitor on a very busy Wednesday with over 150 in the comp, while my playing partners were fantastic, down to earth fellas (Adam, Nick & Rob). And I did find some form after a couple of ordinary weeks. So is it true? Do you play better on a course you like? Overall, it was an excellent day out!