Blog 248 – Winton

Course 17 for 2023 – Winton GC, Qld

Approaching the first scrape at Winton

Nomadic_golfer : May 2023

Par 70, 5393m slope 101 $5 – 9 hole course

4 par3s 112-161m, 12 par4s 234-420m, 2 par5s @ 495m

The 5th course on the ‘outback leg’ of this year’s trip

It looks very bare as you drive into the carpark at Winton GC, on the edge of the town-limits, but there is more than meets the eye out there. This 9-hole course is even lower slope-rated (compared to par) than Longreach, has many of the same characteristics, but is much shorter. There are more features here, as only having 9 holes makes it easier to incorporate (when resources are scarce), while the fairways are wide, but not quite in the Longreach proportions, and the small scrapes are generally a little elevated.

The course actually consists of 10 holes, with 2 separate par3s in play for the 7th and 16th (as they are both semi-blind, I did not realise this and played my 16th from the right tee but to the wrong (7th) green – very similar distance). Alternate tee blocks are used for the different nines apart from the elevated 5th tee, which is perched ~5 metres above the general land level on a large mand-made mound, and the par 5 6th.

There are a mixture of watered-grass and small dirt tee blocks. All green surfaces are black-oil soaked, sand-scrapes and are probably the softest/ slowest I’ve come across so far. I did have a real job getting those putts from the edge of the scrapes (~15 feet) to the hole, but my scraping technique needs work! Fairways are just dirt/ sand and you must tee up all shots through the green. The course’s defences consist of a few trees, some mounds and hollows, a couple of OB fences and some long, whispy grass in a couple of key, strategic locations that really play a part.

After realising the impact of the slope-rating and the need to score low, the first hole catches you by surprise; a 420m par4, dogleg right with some thicker grass on the inside corner in play and a scrape, protected by 4 x 3-5m high trees. While it does get much shorter (& easier) thereafter, there are plenty of features/ traps to catch you out here. Good examples, and some of my favourite features/ holes are: 3 (driveable 241m par4 into the prevailing wind, which does have a couple of tongues of long grass that encroach on the driving line); 6 & 15 (495m par 5 which doglegs left off the tee from a very wide fairway, then turns back right towards the green. There is very long, thick grass in a hazard that runs across the fairway from ~40-50m out so you need a definitive play with your 2nd. There is plenty of land across the hazard but its a lost ball if you don’t make it across); and 8/17 (8 is a 234m par4 into the wind with an OB fence left that starts in front of you and moves a little left of the green-line. It’s a super risk/reward with plenty of eagles and doubles on offer here. 17 plays as a 161m par3 to the same green so requires a solid mid-long iron into the prevailing breeze with that OB fence parallel to the line of play from this tee).

Overall, the $5 green fee does indicate that it is basic golf, but there are enough features/ quirks and points of interest to ensure you must play Winton on your way through.