Blog 213 – Palmer Sea Reef

Course 37 for 2022 – Palmer Sea Reef, Port Douglas, Qld

The narrow green, with false-front on the short par4 9th

Nomadic_golfer : August 2022

Par 71, 6135m, slope 125 $160

4 par3s 138-192m, 11 par4s 318-425m, 3 par5s 440-541m

Originally named ‘The Links at Port Douglas’ when it opened in the 90’s, Clive Palmer has hold of it these days. Once I got over the fact I had to take a cart (I’m the President of the “gotta walk the course” party) and that I needed to consult the gps on most tees to determine my lines off the tee (as the bunker carries etc are not obvious at all/ often blind), I did really enjoy the layout.

Its a manufactured links-style course, laid out on naturally sandy terrain, on an old cane field, set against a Tropical Rainforest background, and is quite pretty. Condition was ok – a few dead patches among otherwise nice even, firm surfaces. When in good nick, with the sun out against the rainforest, I’m sure it would be an absolute picture. Oh, and Crocs in the water hazards ensure you keep your shoes on.

The Wolverige design is clever, with a fair bit of plotting required off the tee to find landing areas between bunkers. It wasn’t blatantly obvious first time around whether the design favours one side of the fairway or not – it appeared to me its more about finding the fairway. They weren’t that narrow per se, there are just a lot of bunkers – and typically there is a bit of margin for error off the tee, out wide. There are quite a few water hazards, the greens are very well protected by bunkers, have lots of false fronts, side drop-offs etc that can play havoc with approaches and chips but there isn’t that much break if you hit it on the right level. It has enough length (3 par 4s over 400m) but doesn’t require you to be Bryson, you just need to know your distances and like any course boasting such tiered greens, pin positions can really impact the size of the challenge here.

Grasses here are Mountain Green Couch on the greens, while the fairways and tees have Greenlees Park Couch.

I thought the back nine was the better of the 2, really enjoyed the quartet of par 3s, with the 2 par 3’s on the back (138m 11th over a little rainforest plantation to a diagonally positioned green was my favourite, and the 171m 15th has some real tough pins), both requiring real distance control. I also enjoyed the short 4’s on the back (the left to right 321m 13th in particular – a number of options off the tee, with the further you hit it off the tee, the closer you get to the fairway bunkers but the more view you get of the green over a large blinding mound).

Overall, this is a fun golf course that feels more resort-like than links, has you making many decisions off the tee and has enough points of difference to beckon you back for another try!