Course 4 for 2023 – Teven Valley GC, NSW
View from the clubhouse – 9th green in foreground, 2nd & 3rd greens in background on right side of the road, 7th & 8th greens over the road
Nomadic_golfer : February 2023
9 hole Par 31, 1705m $60
5 par3s 124-173m, 4 par4s 236-268m
This is a beautiful place, where you can almost see the whole course, and the surrounding tropical rainforest, from the clubhouse on the top of a hill. There are some superb par 3s and short par4s here and I loved the experience. You can even play each hole as a par3 if you like, with each of the 4 par4s having dual tee blocks.
The condition of the playing surfaces was an absolute highlight in early February; Tiffdwarf greens that were firm and pure, Sir Grange Zoysia everywhere else, carpet-like. The greens are medium sized, the complexes quite varied in make-up (shape, size & undulation) surrounded by mounds and a moderate amount of really effectively placed bunkers, and a number of prominent water hazards featuring MaGuires Creek.
Individual hole design is excellent, and there are some rippers, with the first two holes on the course the best. The first is a par3 of 180m, from way up high near the clubhouse to a long, narrow-ish green with a stream cutting across in front and right, and a big bunker left – what a start. The second is a super risk/ reward, 268m driveable 4 with stream cutting diagonally across in front of the green from short left. The 3rd (133m par3 with that same stream cutting in front and wrapping around the right side), 6th (250m with a creek/ gorge all the way down the left and 2 large bunkers on the right side of fairway from 180-200m), and 9th (named ‘The Scorpion’, as it is a sting in the tail, is 150m from the back, up a steep hill to a large, shallow, roller-coaster green with a very small platform short (where the pin was when I played, and bunkers both sides) – are also pretty special.
The only trick I reckon they missed is with the really short par3 8th. For such a short hole, I reckon they could have created something special if the green was half its size. Either a super-shallow or super-narrow green with some steeper drop-offs would have been more dramatic, and appropriate. There is a little back-right wing to the green currently which looks like the best pin but there’s still a fair bit of fat to find at 89m.
I had a good chat with Paul Gumbleton (part-owner and Superintendent). He is an intelligent and interesting guy, and very approachable. He is passionate about this place. They bought a run-down track in 2015, moved a lot of forest and started the remodelling work in 2017, with the aid of Craig Parry as architect. It was ready to play in 2020. Their goal was to make the best 9 hole course in Australia, hence my discussion topic.
The conundrum for me is how do you rate or rank this course. It is only 1705m long, with a par of 31 over 9 holes, with the longest hole at 268m, and if you had to rate courses for just aesthetics, condition and individual hole design, it would be easy and a high rating would ensue. However, if we are rating a course for how the collection of holes sync together to test all parts of our game and to provide variety of length, shape, constituents etc, then there are a number of Tassie’s 9 hole courses that might be marginally behind Teven in those first 3 categories, but well above it in the last 2. Llanherne, Quamby, Elderslie immediately come to mind. Golf Australia’s latest rankings have it as the only 9-hole course in the Top 100. Don’t get me wrong, this is quality, it is fun, but it is niche – you couldn’t play this as your only golf course, where you could those others. I don’t know the answer but its an intriguing discussion.
As well as overseeing construction of this little gem, Paul has paid a lot of attention to detail and looked after a number of 1 percenters beautifully. Position of the clubhouse, stone placement, slatework, the rock-shaped seat, wine-barrels over old water-tank lids and my favourite; his attention to de-cluttering the look of the course. He made reference to Shinnecock Hills (his favourite course) and the lack of clutter, with its only course ‘furniture’ being 2 wooden benches. It was even more important to keep Teven declutterd due to the small parcel of land it occupies – and he has succeeded by adding nothing but flat tee markers inscribed with hole details, on the tees.
This is a unique and quite special place. I loved it. Is it a really good golf course or a collection of really good short holes? There is no right answer btw