Mollymook has been an integral part of the golfing landscape on the NSW South Coast for nearly 40 years but it has rarely looked better than it does now.
You won’t find the name Bill Andriske listed among Australia’s prolific golf course designers.
Andriske was the long-time course superintendent at the Mollymook Golf Club’s nine-hole Beachside course. During that time he was also the curator of the local rugby league ground where his beloved Milton Ulladulla Bulldogs played and was later made a life member of club and their home ground now carries his name.
The Beachside was Mollymook’s original layout, starting as a sand green course in the early 1950s and proved so successful that the club purchase the land, a pitch shot from Mollymook beach. Andriske would oversee the conversion of all the greens to bentgrass in 1979 but it was his work through the earlier years of the 70s that left an indelible mark on the NSW South Coast golfing landscape.
It was during these years that Mollymook’s residential development started to take off and a land developer donated a parcel of land – a few kilometres north-west of the clubhouse – to the club for the construction of what is now known as the ‘Hilltop course’.
Rather than seek out a known course architect, the club enlisted Andriske to oversee the design of the layout, which was carved from a thick eucalypt forest. The course, and a second clubhouse, opened for play in 1977 and it didn’t take long for Andriske’s hillside creation to win plaudits. It would prove to be his one and only course design, and what a beauty it is.
Both nines open from in front of the clubhouse, which occupies the highest point
on the layout and affords views above the towering tree-tops to the Pacific Ocean off in the distance.
Four challenging par-4s open the round, with all measuring between 365 and 398 metres. This quartet demands players use their driver and use it well from the outset, which can produce errors and plenty of tree trouble early in the round. I like how the 1st, 3rd and 4th holes dogleg to varying degrees from right-to-left and suit the player who moves the ball in the same direction. But then, right in the middle of them, is the 373-metre 2nd hole that turns sharply from left-to-right and demands a completely different approach from the tee.
The stretch of holes from the 2nd to the 7th cover the flattest terrain on the course but all – with the exception of the par-3 5th hole – are relatively tight driving holes with tall timbers lining both sides of the doglegging fairways.
The straightest hole on the front nine is the 516-metre par-5, which plays up the steep hill towards the clubhouse and, as a result, plays closer to 600 metres. On the day I played, I cracked a drive and then a 3-wood before standing over a 7-iron for my third shot approach. It’s a beast of a three-shotter where missing the fairway is easy to do when you have long clubs in your hand and find yourself hitting from an uphill lie.
For mine, Mollymook’s best holes are on the back nine. The inward half covers more hilly terrain, which ultimately demands a greater variety of shots. Having made the steep descent down the 10th fairway to the green, the 380-metre par-4 11th hole weaves left through a narrow gap in the trees to open up at the green, which features a new bunker wedged between the putting surface and a picturesque lake.
The bunker here is one of dozens that have been remodelled during recent months. Many have been re-shaped, while all have had new sand and drainage laid and have added to the continuing improvement in Mollymook’s presentation.
My favourite hole at Mollymook is also one of its most memorable. Unlike the aforementioned 8th hole, the par-5 13th hole plays a little shorter than the 500 metres on the scorecard. For longer hitters it is a blind tee shot over the crest of a hill to a fairway that turns gradually to the right from the top of the rise.
Once you’re over the hill, you have a plethora of choices for your second shot. Most, like me, won’t be long enough to clear the stream that separates the green from the end of the fairway. The key to the lay-up is to leave a full shot into the putting surface, which slopes markedly from left-to-right. Any local will tell you, leave your approach shot above the hole here and you face a difficult three-putt when the greens are running at their quickest. I have often thought Andriske may well have been inspired by the rolling par-5s of the Dr Alister Mackenzie-designed Augusta National when he envisioned this terrific hole.
Mollymook’s best, and prettiest, par-3 is the penultimate offering. The 162-metre 17th hole (pictured above) may also have been modelled on Augusta. Colourful flowers surround the teeing areas that lie elevated above the wide, but shallow, green, which has one large bunker left and another two smaller traps to the right. The creek between tee and green doesn’t really come into play on what is a terrific test of club selection and shot-execution late in the round.
Complementing Andriske’s design, which has not changed all that much over four decades, is a level of course presentation that has improved markedly in recent times under the management of Troon Golf. The kikuyu fairways and bentgrass greens today would be the envy of many city clubs and will gain further acclaim when the course hosts the Australian PGA Seniors Championship later this month.
LOCATION: Clifford Close, Mollymook, NSW.
CONTACT: (02) 4454 1912; (02) 4455 2055 (pro shop)
DESIGNER: Bill Andriske (1977)
SLOPE RATINGS: Men: 137/134/126; Women: 131/126.
PLAYING SURFACES: Kikuyu (fairways), bentgrass (greens).
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: Ramon Isarin. Maintenance by Programmed Turnpoint.
PGA PROFESSIONAL: Barry West (Director of Golf), Luke Grinham (teaching professional).
GREEN FEES: Visitors $49 (weekdays), $59 (weekends); Member’s guests $30 (weekdays) and $40 (weekends). Bookings essential.
MEMBERSHIP: Memberships are available in all categories. Full membership (with access to Hilltop and Beachside courses) is $835, while a weekday category membership is $645. Country golf membership, with restrictions, is available for $350.
RECIPROCAL CLUBS: Kooindah Waters Resort (NSW), Sun City CC (WA), Duntryleague GC (NSW), Blackwood GC (SA), Moss Vale GC (NSW), Bathurst GC (NSW), Brookwater GC (Qld), Ashgrove GC (Qld), Darwin GC (NT), Monash CC (NSW), Belmont GC (NSW), Corowa GC (NSW).
FACILITIES: Mollymook has two modern clubhouses – one at the Hilltop course and the other beside the Beachside layout. The Beachside clubhouse boasts the Saltwater Grill, with fantastic ocean views from the terrace or inside through large windows.