Course no. 62, Grafton, NSW
Bush setting with great layout; a golfer’s course
Nomadic_golfer : August 2020
Par 72, 6019m, slope 119, green fee $35
4 par 3s from 135-162m, 10 par 4s from 294-391m, 4 par 5s from 435-473m
On our way to the Northern Tablelands/ New England area in NSW and we stopped off for a couple of nights in Grafton; home to 20k people, on the Clarence River, the hub of the Clarence Valley and 600km north-east of Sydney.
Grafton is an excellent course in a natural Aussie bush setting with plenty of gum trees and kangaroos. Fairways are couch with a splattering of kikuyu and were very firm, still a little dry after the 2019 drought but fine, giving lots of run. The 328 Bermuda greens are medium sized (medium to large for a country track), relatively flat and probably the best conditioned greens in the Northern Rivers region. They are very true, not too firm and a nice pace. Greenstaff had them in top nick for a pro-am 3 weeks prior which did not proceed.
The layout has a good mix of right to lefts and left to right holes and uses the moderate undulations of the property well. The course was playing quite a bit shorter than its 6000m measure due to the run on the fairways; this places a premium on tee shots and makes all 4 par 5s reachable.
There was not one hole that I didn’t like but the best were: 5 (354m sweeping right to left the length of the hole with tall trees on the inside and a wide reverse camber fairway leading to a stream on the right); 7 (unusual looking 379m which bends slightly right to left off the tee, with the teeshot confused by medium sized trees to contend with centre and left of fairway, 2nd shot is uphill and the hole bends back slightly right to the green); 16 (375m hard dog leg right with a couple of large trees and a sneaky water hazard guarding the inside corner. A stream runs down the left also, penalising the drive that doesn’t take the corner on, 2nd shot is up a considerable incline to a raised green);and 17 (a tough 162m over a valley to a clover shaped undulating green with the water/ stream catching anything that misses left.)
This was a very enjoyable experience and if the gods deliver more water (they were playing off mats in late 2019) this would be a real treat. To me, Grafton represents a true Aussie golf experience; it doesn’t have to be about pristine surfaces and vivid green colours; this is natural and combined with a clever layout, this delivers.