When Australian golf destinations are ranked, New South Wales often does not get the plaudits of the likes of Melbourne and now Tasmania. But more reviewers in the know do agree that the New South Wales Golf Club is the one shining light positioned at the very end of the La Perouse peninsula. I, for one, can testify that no course I have played called for more imagination off the tee!
In a minute …
Alistair McKenzie ( Augusta anyone ? ) designed New South Wales Golf Club and opened it in 1926. Like many of Australia and New Zealand’s best courses, New South Wales is not truly public but allows for a small number of visitors during select midweek slots. Men must be below a 27 handicap and females a 36. It’s not an easy course, and the wind can blow! The course will often rank in the top 50 worldwide and sometimes even in the top 10 outside the USA.
First impressions …
In two words, classically elegant. The day I visited NSW with my friend Justin we took a public bus to the course. It would be fair to assume not that many people probably arrive in that manner ( side note: during the bus ride, I was dealing with a pregnancy scare with my then-new girlfriend who has since become my wife whom I have two lovely children with …. so my mind was in other places )
The benefit of walking into the course was that we got to savor the visual feast bestowed upon us fully. The clubhouse is positioned at the top of the course, with the holes falling away down to the sea below. You certainly get a feel for everything you are about to attack.
My other lasting memory was needing to buy socks in the pro shop as the set I had on that day was too short. That may give you an impression of what you are dealing with at NSW. Amazing golf but traditional in a word.
There were three main takeaways from my round at NSW
- I dont recall ever having so many blind tee shots in a round. Creativity and trust is a must and as a player that struggles with visualising shots full stop it was even tougher to trust so many blind shots.
- NSW can be a brute. The wind blew the day we played. I would estimate that a 5-7 shot wind would not be uncommon for the course
- As per every other McKenzie course I have been lucky to play every club and shot in your bag is tested. All four par threes at NSW face different directions as an example so you never really get into a comfortable groove.
The course is immaculately maintained as you would expect, and it plays hard and fast. Given the slopes over the property, there were a few balls that ended up a long way from where they first landed,
The holes down by the water are something special. Hole 5 is when you first get a close-up look at the sea. If you can drive the ball 230m, you fall over a ridge, and your ball and easily travel another 100m leaving a concise pitch into a par 5 down at the water’s edge.
Hole 6 is probably the most photographed hole on the course. A medium par three over rocks and sea will test your club selection and confidence levels.
There are plenty of other amazing holes on the course, and regardless of your ability, you will leave the 18th green feeling like you have been tested.
Book early. Simple as that. There are spots for outsiders but don’t expect you can rock into Sydney and play the next day. You may also need a letter from your home course.
I was lucky enough to get some heavily discounted rates the day we played due to some reciprocal rates, but I believe the standard feeds for a nonmembers guest are around $300.
As per all Australian courses, respect the bush areas as creatures can kill you lurking, most notably snakes.
As a younger guy playing NSW with my equally casual friend, I remember feeling a bit out of place on the course. Like we did not really belong. But I think going back a second time, I would learn from this and force myself to soak up the course for all it was worth.
The truly tricky thing about NSW is the blind shots. You really need to play the course a handful of times to understand it, and for the occasional visitor, this is unlikely to happen.
NSW is not a resort course by any means, so don’t expect to play fun and easy golf. But bring your ‘A’ game, and you will know you have beaten a very tough course.
8.3 out of 10 – In terms of course design, I am sure NSW deserves a much higher score. However, as someone that puts fun at the top of my golf priority tree, this was a tough day out. The course is truly amazing, but you come off feeling very beaten up.