Blessed with two Top-100 Public Access Courses, this iconic Gold Coast club is not resting on its laurels as it fast approaches its centenary year.
Located just south of the Gold Coast golfing mecca and to the north of a concentrated group of outstanding country courses, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club offers a unique blend of both.
And with the 36-hole facility in the process of implementing wide ranging upgrades, both to its golf courses and surrounds, the two underrated layouts – the River and West Courses – situated on the banks of the Tweed River will only continue to improve.
As part of preparations for its 100th anniversary in 2026, the club recently announced a joint venture alongside Tower/Zinkhol Developments, which will see a 10-year multi-stage development – pending approvals – which will deliver a new two-storey clubhouse, car park, cart storage facilities and maintenance shed as well as a residential community boasting a marina and medical centre.
While the development will greatly enhance the club and its offerings, the two layouts remain the primary focus for golfers and have themselves undergone changes in recent years to further raise the standard to make Coolangatta and Tweed Heads its own golfing destination, rather than just another option on the long list of Gold Coast courses.
Both ranked in Australia’s Top-100 Public Access Courses by Golf Australia in 2017, the West (No.91) and River (No.76) courses offer varying challenges, with the par-72 layouts both undergoing green renovations, including grass conversions and redesigns, in recent times to further improve their quality.
The River course’s TifGreen 328 putting surfaces are well established having been converted from bentgrass during the late 1990s and early 2000s. While the West will now match more closely, and utilise a surface better suited to the local conditions. The greens on the West Course were recently changed from bentgrass to TifEagle, with the putting surfaces enlarged and reshaped during the process.
The courses find themselves on unsurprisingly flat land given the proximity to the river’s edge, but all first time visitors will notice that the River, and now West course post-renovation, offer challenges and interest far beyond that of other low-lying layouts thanks to their undulating putting surfaces and surrounds.
The bunkering is another of the standout features, with fairway bunkering sparse but well positioned and greenside bunkers that are particularly outstanding, cut almost to the edge of putting surfaces in a Sandbelt-like look.
Despite the West course being longer and some of the game’s greats walking its fairways in years gone by, the River course is the slightly more favoured of the two layouts because of the greater strategy required with eight sharp doglegging holes and more fairway bunkers to contend with.
Once you have putted out on the 1st hole, which offers an insight as to what is to come with a large bunker left combining with water to the right to give a suffocating feel on the tee, the journey along the banks of the waterway south of New South Wales and Queensland divide to the 2nd tee will open new visitors’ eyes as to where the River course gets its name.
Upon reaching the 2nd you are greeted by a hole that exemplifies what makes the par-72 such an intriguing and enjoyable layout. The 293-metre par-4 is a classic risk-reward hole, with long hitters capable of reaching the green but heavy trees surrounding the fairway making the hole no place to carelessly blast away.
The first real test of the round comes at the par-4 4th, which again requires a plan from the tee. At 399-metres most will reach for the driver but the bunkering down the right side, which encroaches towards the middle of the fairway, is well placed to protect the best angle into another undulating green.
For mine, however, the 8th is the pick of the front nine. Doglegging to the right, it is imperative to hit the fairway of the par-4 before you are faced with a second shot with the sparkling waters of the Tweed to the left of the green.
Where the front side plays straighter from the tee, the back requires quality driving to score well with more holes turning from the tee and tighter landing areas. No hole better illustrates this than the par-4 12th, which turns at nearly 90 degrees to the left with the fairway surrounded by dense trees and shrub.
Only 312-metres, the 12th, like so many of the par-4s and 5s at Coolangatta, rewards players who take more club and find the fairway with a short approach to the heavily bunkered green, but punishes the inaccurate player who attempts to do the same.
The final stretch of holes on the River course closes the round in great style. Starting at the par-5 15th, the difficult collection begins with the only two-shotter beyond 400-metres, which also ranks as its toughest, before another of the memorable holes at Coolangatta comes next.
A left-to-right second is ideal to the 16th green set horizontally to the fairway, with four always a good score.
Requiring a good mid- to long-iron from the back tee to avoid a big number, the penultimate hole is the hardest of the par-3s on the River course, which as a whole lack some of the variation that is the trademark of the course’s longer holes.
Measuring 488-metres, the final hole possess one of the most interesting green complexes on the entire property. Sitting below the clubhouse, the large green is surrounded by expansive bunkering and sits above the fairway, offering a picturesque finish.
Partially due to the total measurement tipping just beyond 6,000-metres, the West course rates harder than the River despite being a more straightforward examination from the tee that allows players to open their shoulders a little more with driver.
The new greens will enhance the offering of the West and perhaps make the choice of which 18 to play a little more difficult for members and public players when given free reign of either layout. The 36 holes also affords the club a unique ability to host numerous tournaments for both professionals and amateurs without major disruption to member play.
The proposed extensive development to the club and surrounding area as the club approaches its century understandably have the people involved at Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club excited. Similarly, the recently completed improvements to the West course’s greens and the continued outstanding condition of both courses year round – which will only improve with an upgrade to the water supply proposed – will have any golfer looking for two high-quality and high-value golfing options delighted any time they get a chance to tee it up down by the river.
LOCATION: Soorley Street, Tweed Heads South, NSW 2486.
CONTACT: (07) 5524 4544.
DESIGNERS: There is no designer credited with the original establishment of either course with many having contributed to changes over the years including: Geoff and Ted Parslow, Peter Williams, Richard Chamberlain and most recently Graham Papworth, who oversaw the changes and conversion to the new Tifeagle greens on the West course.
SLOPE RATINGS: West: Blue 129, White 128 and Red ladies 128. River: Blue 120, White 119 and Red ladies 127.
PLAYING SURFACES: TifGreen 328 (River course greens), TifEagle (West course
greens) and Couch across the rest of the playing areas.
GREEN FEES: $55 (18 Holes), $35 (9 holes).
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: Peter Lonergan.
PGA PROFESSIONALS: Russ Davis (Head Pro), Gary Davis, Craig Smith, Julie Powell (teaching) and Ross Moodie (teaching).
MEMBERSHIP: The membership year runs from July 1 to June 30 and pro rata fees are available. There is currently no joining fee for any categories, which start with the full playing membership for $1,610, including a $250 house levy.
RECIPROCAL CLUBS: NSW (Cobram Barooga, Belmont, Kogarah, Kooindah Waters, Lithgow, Monash, Nelson Bay, Oatlands, Pambula – Merimbula, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Muirfield, Hawks Nest), QLD (Keperra, Ipswich, Maroochy River, Pacific, Townsville, Toowoomba (Middle Ridge), Rockhampton, Warwick, Half Moon Bay), VIC (Gardiners Run, Northern, Yering Meadows), SA (Victor Harbour, The Vines), WA (Mt Lawley), TAS (Tasmania, Devonport, Royal Hobart), ACT (Yowani, Federal), NT (Alice Springs).
CORPORATE GOLF: Coolangatta & Tweed Heads can cater and operate a unique package for any group whether it be 20 players or in excess of 120. The club’s team takes great pride in hosting corporate events and will assist with planning and co-ordination in the lead up to as well as on the day of