Blog 252 – Mount Isa

Course 21 for 2023 – Mount Isa GC, Qld

The early morning sun peaking through a gum on the 134m 10th

Nomadic_golfer : June 2023

Par 72, 5880 slope 110 $40

5 par3s 134-219m, 8 par4s 306-395m, 5 par5s 439-493m

The 9th course of our ‘Outback Swing’, Mt Isa is an extremely attractive 18 hole Outback golf course. The course occupies a large parcel of land situated alongside Silverlena Creek, a tributary of the Leichhardt River (not much water about in June!), just out of the iconic NW Qld mining town.

The obvious first impression after spending weeks in the outback and playing on barren fairways and scrapes is the amount of the colour green around the place, with couch fairways (sparse but pretty good for this climate) and smallish, couch-based greens that putted well. Lots of water is fed to these greens to keep the growth, which results in a soft top layer, but a firm base still plays a part, you get the occasional ‘bounce’.

There aren’t any bunkers as such, with the course’s defences being the gums (found in military-straight lines bordering a number of the fairways), the red sand off the fairways, and the occasional encounter with the creek.

The aesthetic here is magic; that red sand, against the deep green playing surfaces, the bone colour of the multitude of ghost gums, and the ever-present glorious blue sky. It is a rare golfing aesthetic, I’m tipping unique to Australia, and one shared with the likes of Alice Springs GC, Kalgoorlie GC and Broken Hill GC, among others.

The course itself is super. You are immediately captivated with the aesthetic, then the layout of 5 par 5s and 5 3s starts off nicely, with an unusual sequence of 3 par5s in the first 7, which also houses a 220m par3 as the 2nd. That front nine layout is solid, with the par3 8th probably my favourite (150m over a rocky creek bed with a large gum short left encouraging you to shape one right to left, to a larger green, with drop offs long and past mid-green both sides).

Despite the front nine having the presence of an adjacent rocky hill to add to the aesthetic, the back nine kicks to another level. A super little downhill 3 to start, and a stunning amphitheatre green setting on 11 get you in the mood, then the strongest golf holes hit you. From the 335m par4 12th (moves slightly left to right with a large gum protecting that right side (but it can be carried), to a domed, hogsback-type fairway that kicks anything left down into the creek bed, with a miss right finishing in bare stuff amongst the trees, to another narrow green with steep drop-offs on 3 sides), all the way through to the tempting short par4 17th (309m right to left that provides multiple options off the tee, with a green tucked away left, and a raised bank on the inside corner that is full of whispy grass, the odd rock and a few trees). The last is a bit of an anti climax, 309m par4 with no risk/ reward and a wide fairway.

The strongest of these holes are the 193m par3 14th and 395m par4 15th (my favourite hole, right to left, narrowing at driving length with drives down the left side running out of room, and the green tucked further left, making it critical to hit the right side of the fairway to get a shot at a super narrow green).

While I really enjoyed the whole course, on reflection this does have a special group of one-shooters, with all the elements you would wish for in a posse of par3s: variety in length, direction & make-up, a couple of real challenging long iron/ wood requirements and great use of the natural assets.

I have got carried away here, but this was one of my favourite days on the golf course – one that exceeded my expectations measurably. After emerging from the barren outback courses east of here, you start off liking it and end up loving it. I reckon those playing the Outback Queensland Masters in late July ‘23 will be in raptures when this greets them as their 6th and final course!!