Pelican Waters Golf Club

Pelican-Waters-Golf-Club-8th

Whilst Pelican Waters is situated a few kilometres inland at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, it definitely is not lacking in the beauty that the coastal region is renowned for. Designed by Greg Norman and Bob Harrison, in what must surely rank up there with the best of this duo’s collaborative efforts, it is one of the most challenging (but still enjoyable) courses on the Sunshine Coast. Opened in 2000, the course design integrates the natural landscape and cleverly constructed wetlands.

Whilst the course features a number of challenging long holes, Pelican Waters’ real specialties are its short par 4s. The 2nd hole has water running across the tee and up the right side and may tempt the gutsier golfer to take a bit of a risk. The longer the club, the more the fairway pinches in with penal bunkering, water and scrubland. If successful, a far easier pitch is achieved to an angled green, with its series of left side bunkers impeding only those who chose the safer, shorter tee shot.

The other notable par 4 is the 12th hole, which Harrison reportedly rates as one of the premium short 4s the team has ever constructed. With plenty of width off the tee, and a slightly hidden, sharply contoured green, you’ll find yourself in trouble if you approached from the wrong side of the fairway. Back hole placements are especially difficult to get near unless the tee shot can hug the left-side fairway traps, which are particularly penal. Like the 2nd, if you take a gutsy approach with your drive, you will be rewarded with the perfect approach shot and a chance at birdie.

The final 4 holes of the round are played back through dense bushland. This stretch begins with an intimidating dead straight par 4 with a generous fairway framed by scrubland hazards on each side., you end up on a narrow, but deep green superbly enclosed by bunkering and bushland. The par 5 16th twists and turns through tall gums and a narrowing fairway, and although it’s the shortest of the par 5s, it is probably the most difficult green to approach. The 17th dogleg par 4 is quite long, and if you think you’ll catch a break on the 18th, be prepared to be met with one of the toughest closing holes in Queensland. A long dogleg left with strategic left side fairway bunkering, the second shot always plays longer than it appears to a contoured and challenging putting surface. A par 4 here would be a satisfying conclusion!

Noosa Springs Golf & Spa Resort

Noosa-Springs-Golf-Course

Designed by well-known golf course architect, Graham Papworth, Noosa Springs (opened in 1999) is a challenging and inspiring test of golf, a few short kilometres from the popular Queensland beach town of Noosa. The course is crafted out of native rainforest and woodlands and rests partially next to tranquil Lake Weyba. Each hole exudes its own style, is immaculately maintained and surrounded by abundant wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas and swans.

The 6,180-metre par 72 course has 4 sets of tees per hole and 69 bunkers and, would you believe, 10 freshwater lakes, with water in play on 12 of the 18 holes. The course also features a full-length driving range, and an excellent putting green and chipping area to ensure you are fully tuned up before hitting the shots that count!

The course has a championship parkland type feel to it, but is still playable for the higher handicapper. The fairway and green-side bunkering is excellent both in design and playability with adequate space off the tee to open the shoulders up. The generous green complexes are undulating with enough roll out occurring to make for low and high scoring prospects.

Both 9s are similar, but with more water on the front 9 to test your game early. The standout hole on this side is the strong Par 4 7th. At 415 metres, doglegging gently from right to left, you best have your tee ball working in this shape as water looms menacingly down the entire right side. On the back-side, hole No 17 – a 340 metre par 4 – features water, water, everywhere! Initially a well struck tee shot with a fairway wood is ideal as you potentially can run out of fairway.  In reality though, the landing areas are generous in size at both the fairway and green complex. It’s just the intimidation factor of the bodies of water nearby that play mind games. That said – you should be used to that theme at this late stage of proceedings!

Palmer Coolum Resort

Palmer-Coolum-Resort

The Palmer Coolum Resort (formerly Hyatt Regency Resort) on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was the long-time home to the season ending Australian PGA Championship. With its famous “cut parties”, where those not good enough to complete 72 holes ran amok, this was easily the most popular resort course in Australia. Robert Trent Jones Jnr worked his magic initially in 1988 and oversaw a re-design in 2008 that sadly came about as a result of the beachside holes No’s 4-8 being claimed for residential land sale. The course was then acquired by Clive Palmer, and sadly experienced a decline in quality (and the strange presence of large-scale dinosaurs – an unusual fascination of the new owner).

Thankfully the stunning 72 par, 6,137 metre course has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts in very recent times with the Golf Digest panel seeing fit to restore the course to Top 100 status. It has returned to must-play status as part of a Sunshine Coast golf trip.

During its heyday, the fine layout was graced by the game’s best, including major winners Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day, Y.E. Yang, Greg Norman and Darren Clarke. Perhaps the finest stretch of golf ever played at Coolum belongs to one of our purest ever ball strikers in Peter Lonard who fashioned 76 consecutive bogey-less holes in the 2006 Australian PGA Championship only to lose to a dramatic holed bunker shot by eventual victor Nick O’Hern at the treacherous par 4 18th on the 4th hole of sudden death. Play the course and you’ll be astounded at this mind-bending accomplishment!

Coolum has contrasting landscapes, from lakeside holes to manicured fairways that weave their way through native bushland. It dishes up the usual resort golf thrills and challenges, with plenty of water, lush tropical foliage and a focus on eye-catching features and design.

As far as signature holes go, Coolum has 2. The downhill par 3 11th which plays alongside a lake to a bean-shaped green, hugging the water on the right with accompanying bail out swales to the left that make it fairly simple to ease a chip shot into the abyss you sought to avoid from the tee. The other is the aforementioned par 4 18th. Very similar to the Players Championship TPC Sawgrass finishing hole, it heads left around a lake for its entire length and punishes those who flinch too far from the water with their tee shot.

Twin Waters Golf Club

Twin-Waters-Golf-Resort

The Twin Waters golf course is one of the original championship courses on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and was built during resort golf’s boom days of the late 1980’s. Together with the nearby Hyatt Coolum resort (Palmer Coolum Resort these days), Twin Waters played a big part in enticing serious golfers to this unspoiled coastal paradise in search of quality golf. Coolum was always the tougher course, but when it comes to presentation and grooming of the playing surfaces, Twin Waters sets the benchmark on the Sunshine Coast day in day out.

The course is a clear example of the unmistakable style of design partners Michael Wolveridge and Peter Thomson. Heavily influenced by the classic British links, it is a traditional design worked into the natural and rugged Australian landscape.

Running approach play is encouraged through the course layout, and for most golfers this should be the modus operandi given the putting surfaces are usually firm and fast and not that receptive to a less than perfectly struck iron. Surrounded by a beautiful native landscape, there is a distinctly Aussie slant on the game of golf – highlighted by a local audience of (hopefully not-too-critical!) kangaroos.

Many physical characteristics of traditional links golf are evident at Twin Waters, including gently rolling fairways, small pot bunkers, patches of thick tussock rough and large firm greens with subtle slopes. The feature holes on the front 9 are the 165-metre 2nd, which requires some serious iron play prowess early in the round. With a lake looming large to the right, and a bail out left, you are left with an awkward up and down prospect, to say the least. Ahead to No 8, a 379-metre par 4 over water initially, and to the right with typically punishing fairway bunkers catching those shaping too much left-to-right. A raised large green with a deceptively fast putting surface collaborates to give you understanding of why this hole is stroke index No 1. On the backside, No 16 mirrors the challenge of No 8 and is ranked the most difficult hole on the back 9. At 377 metres from the tips, the player needs to decide how much of the dogleg on the right can be cleared to afford a much shorter approach to a tiered, complex putting assignment. The course finishes with a short but straight par 5 that most certainly is a birdie prospect, provided the tee shot finds the short stuff. Easier said than done, with pot bunkers and tussocks left and right to negotiate.

Without a doubt, one of the top 2 courses on the Sunshine Coast and a must play proposition.

Maroochy River Golf Club

Maroochy-River-Golf-Course

Designed by former touring professional and prolific designer Graham Marsh, Maroochy River Golf Club was established in 2015 when the Horton Park Golf Club was forced to relocate from the heart of Maroochydore to a flat floodplain inland at Bli Bli, very close to the Sunshine Coast airport.

Given the flood-prone nature of the property, the land profile was raised considerably during construction and provided a blank canvas for Marsh to create a layout which has matured in a short space of time to appeal as a challenge for players of all standards. The generous expanse of land allowed Marsh to offer four tees options with broad avenues of play on each hole complimenting the quasi-links nature of the ground movement. The tight, elevated green sites, with the use of water and severe back tees, ensures this newcomer to the Sunshine Coast scene has something for everyone.

There are some attractive bunker complexes that are visually intimidating enough to have you consider alternative playing lines and club selection. The par 4 10th is a fine example – from the tips, the slight dogleg right hole stretches to 390 metres, but the hero route to the green is to take on the first of three bunkers framing the right edge of the fairway. Long ball wielders can carry the first bunker, but they are dicing with danger in the form of the two smaller concealed traps beyond. The safe playing line, being wide to the left of the sand, leaves a longer shot and far harder approach where a bunker short left of the green is particularly challenging.

The only hole devoid of bunkers is the 399-metre 18th hole, which ranks as the hardest hole at Maroochy River courtesy of its length and the only forced water carry on the course. It is a testing closer that seems to have been inspired by similar holes that regularly feature on the PGA Tour. With water all down the left side of the hole – and separated from the slight dogleg left fairway by a wide cut of rough – few players will willingly drive to the left half of the fairway. Shorter hitters will need to lay-up short of the water hazard, cutting the fairway off from the green that lies beyond, and rely on their wedge and putter to score.

Pacific Harbour Golf & Country Club

Pacific-Harbour-Golf-and-Country-Club

The Pacific Harbour Golf & Country Club is located on Bribie Island at the northern boundary of Moreton Bay, just under 1 hour north east of Brisbane. The island is the only one on the Queensland coast that is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

The Ross Watson designed course opened in 2006 after a 2-year construction period and has quickly attained lofty status amongst fellow Sunshine Coast tracks in the Golf Digest rankings and is widely considered to be some of Watsons best work. Reminiscent of his triumph at Magenta Shores, the course occupies a property that is quite sandy, but one that initially lacked in ground contours and interesting golfing shape. Watson had to push material around to create his holes and water hazards and gets credit for a course that is attractively built, well bunkered and with enough strategic choices and quality holes to tempt and satisfy all.

Upon completion, Ross Watson summed up the development of Pacific Harbour Golf Club by stating: ‘Sculpting a memorable environmentally sensitive island links course has been extremely gratifying’.

Pacific Harbour opens with a nice-looking par 5 that provides a number of routes from tee to green.  The 2nd is then a fine short par 4 along a waterway with a narrowing fairway that gets more difficult to hit the more aggressive you choose to play from the tee. The aptly named “Sawgrass” par 3 7th, is as the name indicates reminiscent of the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, although not long at 142 metres from the back tees. It plays into a prevailing wind to a green 75% encircled by water to the right. The green sits atop a retaining wall supported by railway sleepers that invariably deflect the ball to the water if struck!

On the back 9 the feature holes are: the par 5 14th, named Glasshouse in reference to the stark jutting mountains nearby – a risk reward par 5 which can be reached in 2 by stronger hitters after firstly splitting the fairway traps that lurk from the tee. Winding all the way up the right side and crossing short of the green is a well-placed creek that will play on your mind if choosing to attack.

The 18th is a stout finishing par 4 at 405 metres. The tee shot must evade a monstrous gaping fairway trap to the right that is nestled up against water. That leaves a second shot quite similar to the tee shot at the par 3 7th, albeit likely to be a longer blow. The green, again surrounded by water and railway sleepers to the right, will favour those playing long-left with a devilishly difficult bunker shot across the swale in the green and headed straight at the water. It’s these constant challenges that see Pacific Harbour as the highest rated Sunshine State course in the most recent Golf Digest rankings and a must play when in the region. Just make sure you have the straight tee ball at your disposal!

Package Details

  • 8 nights’ accommodation at Rendezvous Hotel Scarborough Beach, or similar
  • 1 game of golf at Cottesloe Golf Club
  • 1 game of golf at Joondalup (Quarry & Dunes)
  • 1 game of golf at Lake Karrinyup Country Club
  • 1 game of golf at Links Kennedy Bay
  • 1 game of golf at Mount Lawley
  • 1 game of golf at The Cut
  • 1 game of golf at Western Australian Golf Club
  • Self-drive rental vehicle (option available for private transfers with driver)

From A$1,978.00 per person twin share

Package Details

  • 5 nights’ accommodation at QT Perth Hotel, or similar
  • 1 game of golf at Joondalup (Quarry & Dunes)
  • 1 game of golf at Lake Karrinyup Country Club
  • 1 game of golf at Links Kennedy Bay
  • 1 game of golf at The Cut
  • 1 game of golf at Western Australian Golf Club
  • Self-drive rental vehicle (option available for private transfers with driver)

From A$1,295.00 per person twin share

Package Details

  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Crowne Promenade Perth, or similar
  • 1 game of golf at Joondalup (Quarry & Dunes)
  • 1 game of golf at Lake Karrinyup Country Club
  • 1 game of golf at Links Kennedy Bay
  • Self-drive rental vehicle (option available for private transfers with driver)

From A$822.00 per person twin share

Package Details

  • 5 nights’ accommodation at Peppers Noosa, or similar
  • 1 game of golf at Twin Waters Golf Club
  • 1 game of golf at Maroochy River Golf Club
  • 1 game of golf at Noosa Springs Golf Resort
  • 1 game of golf at Palmer Coolum Resort
  • 1 game of golf at Pelican Waters Golf Club
  • 1 game of golf at Peregian Golf Course
  • Motorised carts included
  • Self-drive rental vehicle (option available for private transfers with driver)

From A$1,578.00 per person twin share