Nomadic_golfer : September 2020
Par 71, 5752m, slope 113, green fee $14
5 par 3s from 118-195m, 10 par 4s from 288-394m, 4 par 5s from 462-546m
So much good to say about the base on the NSW Northern Tablelands/ New England leg of our tour in September/ October 2020. We spent the best 6 weeks imaginable at @kaiiwiestate (main photo), on over 1000 acres in prime cattle country, 20 minutes from Glen Innes with a magnificent view over the valley. Our host was the incomparable Annabelle Gerrie; the most rounded, accomplished individual you will ever meet. The area is full of history and character in a very cold climate, at over 1000m altitude. It is also a place full of stories, yarns and characters.
This golf course is something different; condition is only average (early Spring) due to the prior year’s drought and the sub-zero winter temps keeping the fairways dormant and very patchy. Greens were well grassed and smooth, yet soft and slow.
The layout is intriguing, with the front 9 not having much to write home about, the par 5 3rd the exception (546m with OB down the right its entire distance and a dam jutting out onto the fairway at the 250m mark). But wow, you hit the 10th and think you are on a new course. 7 of the 9 holes are memorable; 10 to 15 are fantastic holes aesthetically and strategically (with a fair degree of quirkiness), and the 17th was probably my favourite (155m downhill, with pines lining both sides of the path, demanding you hit a shot with a straight flight or very slight fade, with the long narrow green dropping off on both sides, photo below). Of those first 6, the par 5 13th is most special (506m with pines and OB right from the tee, complemented by a large gum at the 200m mark on the left. Bailing out to the left brings that and further trees on the left into play as the hole then bends left, slightly downhill. Take the pines on down the right and the drive will run and open up the hole). 11 represents the quirky side well (photo below), 340m with a dam for the first 80m and two gums at either side of the fairway at about 100m that almost touch; you must be sure of both trajectory and shape to manoeuvre your way through this gap, before an uphill approach to a narrow green with a severe side slope and drop-offs both sides.
A memorable track, that strokes the ego with the distance the ball travels (altitude & firm ground), gets a bit ho hum through the front 9, then excites on the back 9. I’d play again and I’m sure that condition would be better from November thru April. Played in the Highland Classic in September; great vibe, great people, all handicap events. Great value for money here; all golfers that are members of an Australian golf club get reciprocal rights fees of $14 per round!