Nomadic_golfer : September 2022
Par 72, 6097m, slope 122 $45
4 par3s 140-208m, 10 par4s 278-404m, 4 par5s 467-487m
I was pleasantly surprised at the offering here. It is a quality layout in an aesthetically pleasing native, natural setting where the first 8 holes are magic, has a little benign 4 hole patch (layout & aesthetics not quite the quality of the rest from 9-12, where you are up closer to the road) and steps back up for the last 6. The club is currently nearing the end of an irrigation system installation which has torn the course up, and it doesn’t look far from being finished – this will be a legitimate gem in a few months time.
You know you are in the Tropics here, they have done a great job keeping the natural characteristics without it getting too tight, penal or claustrophobic, and there is a constant reminder with the view on the Western horizon of Rainforest clad mountains and National Park. There is a vast range of vegetation on the course itself and it is quite spectacular; with the hazards a nice mix of ‘on the ground’ (moderate level of bunkers and a number of water hazards) and ‘in the air’ (vast range of trees, shrubs and bushes, with a large number of 5-10m paper-bark looking trees and a few of the ubiquitous palms). And the design is quite strategic (the original architect from the 1920’s is unknown, but Ross Watson did some work here in the 90’s), with most fairways moderate to generous in width and many of them requiring you to take a tighter line off the tee for the clear shot in.
The quartet of 3’s is absolutely super – I mentioned Palmer Sea Reef’s 3s and these are every bit as good, spectacular and demanding: 2 (151m of near complete carry over some ponds to a wide, shallow green, is a real test of your mid-iron game at 7am); 8 (172m to a very long, thin green that runs diagonally from short left); 14 (208m with bunkers protecting each side at the front, in a ripper setting amongst medium trees with the rainforest-clad hills in the background); and 17 (140m water-carry to a shallow green, positioned diagonally from short-right). The only negative on them is that the last 3 all run in a similar direction.
The greens are mostly Novatek (quite common up here, also on greens at Palmer Sea Reef and Half Moon Bay), with some couch and are pretty good – firm and a nice speed, while the collars are currently being seeded with Zoysia. Fairways are couch and some naturally occurring buffalo, and were pretty solid other than the repairing trenches.
Overall, I really enjoyed my round here – the layout is interesting and challenging, the aesthetic at sunrise was spectacular and despite the level of works going on, condition was very playable. I hadn’t heard much of Cairns GC before my round here, I reckon it earns an ‘underrated’ tag and it is great value for $45. I’ll definitely play next time around too.