Course 7 for 2023 – Ballina GC, NSW
Super view from behind the uphill par3, 12th
Nomadic_golfer : March 2023
Par 72, 6050m slope 121 $50
4 par3s 115-155m, 10 par4s 305-400m, 4 par5s 445-490m
This popular and busy golf course is a quality parklands track on a nice undulating property, with occasional views of ‘North Creek’ in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. It is well bunkered, with water on a couple of holes, tree-lined with eucalypts dominant but has a bit of everything including a few pines and some palms for the tropical feel. There are lots of opportunities for recovery with little dense stuff other than down on the par 5’s in 4 and 6.
The Tiff Eagle greens looked very good despite a recent light scarify. They are medium to large in size, and medium paced, with the majority being quite flat, while fairways are kikuyu. Turf coverage was very good, though not that firm.
The layout is interesting, and has a few different feels in different pockets of the course, from the sub-tropical feel of the middle of the front 9, to the water views and greater undulations of 10-12, to rolling parklands. The routing is unusual, with 3 par5s in the first 6 holes and what I consider as 3 strong stretches of 3 holes, being 4-6, 10-12, and then the only 3 long par 4s in succession, 14-16 (Ballina’s version of ‘Amen Corner’), all circa 400m, with tough sloping fairways and greens to boot. These are challenging holes, the 3 hardest on the course, for mine.
I really like those 2 par 5s on the front 9 that both offer a chance for the brave shot-makers: 4 (490m par 5, requiring a hard-turning hook off the tee if you want to take it on, followed by a water carry to the green, which is definitely on if you can sling that hook off the tee); and 6 (464m par 5, straight off the tee, then bends acutely right at about 100m out, meaning your tee shot needs to be hard up against the left side, followed by a strong cut to reach in 2).
My 2 favourite holes though, are: 11 (short 4 that has some risk/ reward off the tee and movie-star looks; its 300m set next to a large creek with bunkers in the middle of the fairway from about 220m off the back. There are many options off the tee, including driver to a tight, higher, firm left side that gets you very close to the green. There is lots of sand, quite penal, before a beautifully bunkered and undulating green with a few no-go zones depending on pin positions); and 16 (the 3rd of these tough par 4’s bends right to left from an elevated tee around unusually thick rough and a hazard before a slightly uphill second to a large green set at the top of a rise and framed on the left with large fig trees).
This is a pretty place, despite lots of houses in view at various points on the course, and is known as the “Garden Course’. The only disappointments for me are the relatively bland 1st and 18th holes and the fact that both par 3s on the back nine (good holes in their own right), sit right next to each other, running parallel, in the same direction, with the same elevation change (and more generally the 4 par 3’s lack some teeth).
Overall, while this isn’t the toughest test of golf, its a very nice golf course. There are a number of opportunities for the shot-maker to show his/ her craft and while its no pushover for the low marker, a high handicapper would not feel over-awed here (MacKenzie would like that). I enjoyed the various phases the course goes through, and despite the surrounding houses, it does pull off a nice vibe and aesthetic.
My apologies with the photos, the sun had a day off. There are some excellent photos to be had with the sun out here.