Blog 91 – Royal Canberra

Course 91, Royal Canberra, ACT

Australia’s Augusta??

Nomadic_golfer : December 2020

Yarralumla course Par 72, 6319m, slope 124, green fee $170

4 par 3s from 145-174m, 10 par 4s from 273-401m, 4 par 5s from 448-487m

Round 3 in the am on day 2 of my 2 day trip to Canberra, hosted by Camp Remmers in Googong, was at Royal Canberra. In its Westbourne Woods location since 1962, the club consists of an original 18 holes routed through an arboretum designed by James Scott and a Peter Thomson designed 3rd 9, opened in 1994. OCCM undertook some major renovations on the original 18 in 2016, which I believe opened up the fairways and added strategic bunkering.

We played the Yarralumla (holes 10-27). The 10-19 stretch is a spectacular natural looking setting with lush bent grass fairways, lots of pines (with many of them having their bottom half trimmed so they are thick at the top only) and the occasional patch of gums, fantastic bunkering, with the reddish sand a magnificent contrast against the deep greens of the fairways and pines. The bent greens had been scarified 3 weeks prior so this took a lot of fire out of them and it played much easier than usual I suspect. The large greens have lots of undulation and there would be many no-go places on them. Pines define your path on a lot of holes which are typically generous in width off the tee; you must get the ball on the fairways here.

Fairways were in excellent condition; bent with some rye in them, they must take a lot of upkeep. I believe they are currently trialling santa anna on the 7th fairway. The design uses the undulations well and the 10-18 side does have a few blind tee-shots.

Memorable holes were: 13 (160m downhill to green which has a few swails, some slope front to back, heavily protected by sand on the right); 14 (390m par 4 (see pic) that has a sea of sand on display from the tee. It’s a little unusual as two fairway bunkers appear to frame the fairway but the right one is actually in the centre and starts at about 230m, you must pick a side. The second shot on this long 4 is then uphill to a large green surrounded by bunkers. Tough hole from the back); 17 (175 (216 off the back) very tough 3 due to length with bunkers right and a large 2 tiered green; and 19 (my favourite, first pic below, 380m beautifully framed by pines, right to left with bunker jutting out onto fairway left, requiring 220-240m carry, and mounds in the right. Very tight landing area from downhill drive, then turns left 45 degrees and back uphill through pines to a gently elevated green with bunkers right).

Holes 21-26 are across a road and obviously newer than the rest of the course. All the same colours exist but the large pines don’t as yet. There are 3 good short 4s over here, the pick being 22 at 340m where you drive into a ridge while sitting high on the hill overlooking the city. Must keep the drive right to avoid going down a hill but right has trees protecting it.

I can imagine when the greens are running that this is the Augusta of Oz; pines and pine needles, beautifully manicured, many undulations and lightning quick, heavily sloped greens that have a big say in your score.