Amongst the hustle and bustle of the industrial area of Milperra, in Sydney’s south west, sits a nondescript entrance signed ‘Bankstown Golf Club’. Easily missed, the long driveway leads to the almost oasis-like property that is Bankstown Golf Club.
Aside from a few neighbouring houses and some industrial properties, it is easy to forget when you are playing at Bankstown that you are in the middle of suburban and industrial streets and only a short drive from the M5 motorway.
Originally designed by members, the course opened in 1928. Tight, heavily tree-lined fairways, typical of that period, are the most prominent feature of the course, which places a premium on driving accuracy. Melaleuca and eucalypts are the dominating species of trees found around the par-71 (72 for ladies) layout.
Located on the banks of the George’s River, the club is fortunate to have the majority of required water sourced from their own dams, which are filled by the tidal flow of the river and rainwater catchment. High-quality playing surfaces are the result of this access to water. Grass coverage and colour is extremely good, even during the hot summer months, best illustrated by the consistent surfaces found on the combination wintergrass and bentgrass greens.
Being so close to a river and situated on low-lying land means that drainage and water is always at the front of mind in caring for the course. Improvements to the structure and drainage of the bunkers, using the capillary concrete drainage system, is in the works. Some bunkers have already been completed and deemed successful, with work to begin on others in the near future.
At 6,068 metres from the back tees, Bankstown isn’t overly long by modern day standards but still provides a solid test for golfers of all abilities and strengths. While long hitters will have plenty of wedges and short irons into greens from the more forward tees, poor approach play and distance control is punished, with many of the elevated greens surrounded by mounds and containing multiple levels. Finding the correct section of the greens is imperative to making birdies and pars, which helps level the playing field for the shorter, more accurate golfer.
Varying tees are available to the greenkeepers on most holes, allowing subtle differences in course set-up from day-to-day. This variety of tees allows not only differences in length but also a change in player strategy, with different lines of play required from different tees to avoid being blocked out by the large trees and to open the best angles to the greens.
There is a noticeable lack of fairway bunkers to be found at Bankstown, with only a handful around the course. Despite this, accuracy is still crucial from the tee with narrowly mown fairways difficult to find and the well-established trees blocking out approach shots from the wrong position on many holes. The first cut of rough may not look overly deep and menacing at first glance, but it shouldn’t be underestimated as it can result in a variety of less than perfect lies and unpredictable results.
Experience counts for a great deal around Bankstown as missing on the wrong side of the mounded greens is often a fatal mistake for a player’s scorecard. The front of many of the greens are open and encouraging to players who like to approach with lower shots, but once again prior knowledge comes into play as judging the bounce from the Kikuyu fairways can prove very difficult.
Water comes into play on numerous holes at Bankstown, making its first appearance on the par-5 2nd hole where a large dam sits to the left of the fairway – its size hidden from the first-time player standing on the tee and avoided without much difficulty with a safe drive to the right.
Water also features on the 10th hole, which ranks as the hardest on the course, a long par-4 with out-of-bounds right and water left. When the pin position is set over the left-hand bunker, with large expanses of green to the right, you would be forgiven for thinking the greenkeeper missed the green altogether with the flag, when pondering your approach shot from the fairway.
The stretch of the 5th, 6th and 7th holes stand out for me as one of the most enjoyable parts of the course. A short par-4, the 5th hole is most memorable for the large bunker that fronts the difficult, sloping green and is best played by taking less than driver from the tee and leaving a short iron approach. Reachable in two for the long hitters, the slight dogleg left par-5 6th is a classic risk reward long hole. A small, well protected green is its greatest defence and this is no easy birdie hole if a player finds themselves out of position.
The 7th is a tough, long par-3. At 187 metres from the back tees, with a small, elevated and well-bunkered green, this hole can catch out the very best players if they have already begun to think of their halfway snack. A pin placed on the back right hand shelf of the green provides a particularly testing shot. The player who is tempted to hit their approach at the flag is also hitting towards the large bunker on the right and steep drop off at the back of the green.
The sale of land owned by the golf club, previously used as a practice fairway, has allowed the club to invest in some impressive changes to enhance the experience for members and social players alike. An all new maintenance facility is having a positive effect on the conditioning of the course, while a soon to be opened teaching and fitting studio – equipped with the latest technology (including Trackman) – will help give golfers a leg up in their search for improvement under the watchful eye of head professional Lee Hunt.
Beautifully manicured native gardens are a feature of the hidden gem that is Bankstown Golf Club, and together with the high-quality playing surfaces, enhance the oasis feel of the course. First time visitors to Bankstown won’t expect, and will be pleasantly surprised by, the enjoyable, well-maintained layout.
LOCATION: 70 Ashford Avenue, Milperra, NSW, 2214.
CONTACT: (02) 9773 0628
DESIGNER: Members (1928).
SLOPE RATINGS: 124 (Black Tees), 123 (Blue), 122 (White), 120 (Gold) and 128 (Red).
PLAYING SURFACES: Kikuyu (fairways), kikuyu/couch (tees) and wintergrass/bentgrass (greens).
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: David Somerville
PGA PROFESSIONALS: Lee Hunt, Chris Akers and John Burrough.
MEMBERSHIPS: A variety of membership options are available. Five and seven day memberships are available, with different price points offered based on competition fees.
Seven day memberships start at $1750 with $30 competition fees and go up to $3750 with no competition fees. Five day memberships are offered with similar competition fee options, starting at $1250.
Men’s and ladies’ membership fees are the same, with Saturday play available to all members and only two days a week (Wednesday-men’s and Thursday-ladies’) limited competitions.
Junior and Intermediate memberships are offered until the age of 25 and start at $240 for under 15’s. All junior and intermediate members pay $10 comp fees and have seven day privileges.
Juniors get their start in the club’s Tyro Team which costs $50 (not a membership) and is for children under the age of 12, even with zero golf experience. Clinics run by the pro shop staff start the Tyro Team and they progress to specially designed layouts on the course. Corporate memberships are also available.
RECIPROCAL CLUBS: NSW (Forster Tuncurry GC); Victoria (Cranbourne GC, Patterson River CC, Rossdale GC, Whittlesea GC); Tasmania (Claremont GC, Tasmania GC); Queensland (Gailes GC, Keperra GC); WA (Sea View GC); SA: (Thaxted Park GC, Tee Tree Gully GC, West Lakes GC); Norfolk Island GC; Lae GC (New Guinea), Muriwai GC (NZ).
CORPORATE GOLF: Bankstown is well equipped to handle small to large corporate and charity golf days. Offering a wide variety of options and packages, including nine-hole days, the club is experienced and willing to help make every day special.