Graham Marsh's extensive redesign of RACV Royal Pines' championship layout has been given the thumbs by the Australian PGA field, including visiting Swede David Lingmerth.
BY STEVE KEIPERT AT RACV ROYAL PINES RESORT
CONSENSUS suggests Graham Marsh's extensive redesign of the RACV Royal Pines Resort course has been overwhelmingly positive and it's hard to mount a counter-argument.
Carried out nine holes at a time, with the front-nine work completed in time for last year's Australian PGA Championship and the back nine ahead of this year's edition, the layout was denied a lengthy grow-in spell that other courses in the same position might enjoy. While there is a minor but noticeable difference between the putting surfaces of the two nines, the players here this week are confident that Royal Pines in the years ahead will be an even better championship test.
"The course is going to be good," said Peter Senior. "It's going to take probably next year, probably the year after to settle down. I know quite a few of the guys had a few problems with it but it's so young; give it a chance. I think Graham's done a fantastic job and I think it's a good test of golf.
"All in all, this is one of our better courses in Queensland."
Previously the course featured large, flat greens and equally pancake-like bunkers with minimal undulations anywhere. Marsh didn't alter the routing in any way but did re-contour the entire layout, especially the green complexes. The result is a course with far more character than before and shots played both onto and on-board the greens are far more interesting to watch and to execute.
The revamped course is more difficult but not at the expense of being interesting. The average golfer - who can start taking divots again at Royal Pines from next week - will be beaten up a little more by the course than in the past but players with good short games will prosper.
As has been evident for three rounds of this Australian PGA Championship, scoring in tournament mode has been difficult and so far is well short of the expected depth under par. Count David Lingmerth, the visiting Swede who held the 36-hole lead, among those who prefer a more testing week versus a "birdiefest".
"I like the challenge of having to stick in it, every shot, and really have to pay attention," he told Golf Australia magazine. "When it's a 'birdiefest' it's easy to get down on yourself if you don't make the birdies. When it's not a birdiefest and you have to really grind it out, I think it puts me in a better frame of mind out there, so I think I like this type of tournament better."