Course 18 for 2023 – Hughenden GC, Qld
The shady tee on the excellent par5 15th
Nomadic_golfer : May 2023
Par 70, 5793m slope 101 $10
4 par3s 154-228m, 12 par4s 282-392m, 2 par5s 489-494m
The 6th course of our ‘Outback Swing’, Hughenden is a little different from the last couple of outback experiences. The sprawling site occupies a large parcel of land a couple of kms out of town, abutting the longest river in Queensland, the Flinders River, which is currently all but dry. It is adorned with some superb medium sized gums and a few smaller, deeper green-leaf natives. This combination gives a really nice aesthetic on arrival.
The playing surfaces consist of 18 sand-scrape greens, watered tee blocks (including forward tees) on all 18 holes and almost bone-dry fairways that have tufty dry grass on many holes. I am not sure if a ‘tee up through the green’ local rule is in place as a preferred lie would have you find a dry clump to perch your ball on, within a couple of club lengths in almost all instances currently. Soil colour is a light brown, a little lighter than Winton/ Longreach and a lot lighter than the deep red of Quilpie.
While the initial aesthetic carries throughout the course, there are quite a few holes with wide fairways. The trees are out wide to catch errant shots off ‘the-straight’ rather than penalise poor execution while chasing reward. Some of the holes do use the natural assets nicely, with: 2 (347m par4 with a drive required over a whispy, dry creek bed, trees down the right and the green tucked slightly right); 3 (494m par5 that uses the natural elevation changes with drive coming off a hill, and protected by a couple of large gums on each side of the fairway, finishing with an OB fence just beyond the green); and 4 (282m right to left par4 giving you a very tempting look at the green through some gums from the tee, but unless you have the big bazooka, you are best aiming right and banking on an up and down for your 3), getting you off to a nice start.
A couple of my favourite holes are a little strategic, in 14 (gettable 304m par4 with OB fence encroaching down the left and a number of small-medium size trees down the bail-out right side. The green is tucked behind the trees right so you need to hit that tee shot centre-left) and 15 (490m par5 from a cute tee set under a big old tree, to a very wide fairway that narrows (chicane-like) as you approach the green, with thicker growth right and an OB fence left to penalise a wild approach). And I think I found the Outback’s longest par3, the 228m 16th here, over the same creek-bed as the 2nd.
Overall, the (rustic) aesthetic and ambience are the strengths here, underpinned by the large gums and proximity to the river.