The future of this Sunshine Coast course appeared uncertain in mid-2016. Today, after three years under new management and with an open door to all golfers, it is realising its potential once again.
I first played at the then named Peregian Springs Golf Club in December 2003, just a few days after the course officially opened for play.
It was – as you might expect of a layout created specifically for a members-only club – beautifully presented and fully complemented the first full design of Phil Scott – a long-time PGA of Australia member and father to Masters Champion, Adam. Created to be the centrepiece of the Peregian Springs residential development, the course immediately gained a reputation as one of the most prestigious on the Sunshine Coast.
In the decade that followed, it was noticeable with every return visit that the course was starting to look tired, which was surprising given its age. It was no surprise to me to learn in mid-2016 the club was financially strapped and administrators had been called in. Within a month, the course was closed.
Peregian Springs Golf Holdings Pty Ltd – 76 percent controlled by developer Aveo – and owner of the course and clubhouse then went on a search for a management company to run both.
Golf Services Management (GSM), which operates four Victorian courses including the highly-ranked Ranfurlie and St Andrews Beach, was appointed and the newly-branded Peregian Golf Course re-opened in December 2016. Top of the GSM ‘to-do’ list was to promote Peregian as a seven-day-a-week public access course and to encourage golfers and their families to come and try the layout, clubhouse and practice facilities.
In less than three years, the course presentation has improved and is proving popular again. My visit to compile this feature coincided with a Queensland public holiday and there was a steady flow of players on the course, while the practice area had more young kids hitting balls than adults. It was a sight most club general managers would love to see at their course.
Scott’s par-72 design is one that can be enjoyed by players of all standards, which is important when you consider this is a public access course.
“The course provides a variety of strategic options and golfers will need to plot their rounds, taking on some of the hazards and steering clear of others.” – Phil Scott
“Our objective throughout the design was to provide a course that will offer different challenges, whether they play daily or less frequently,” Scott said when the course opened for play. “The course provides a variety of strategic options and golfers will need to plot their rounds, taking on some of the hazards and steering clear of others.”
Each par-4 and par-5 offers choices on the tee to the better players while there are no dauntingly long tee shots required over or between hazards that might send a higher handicapped player back to the clubhouse in search of more balls.
I am a great fan of quality short par-4s and Peregian’s 312-metre par-4 5th is a cracker. Standing on the tee, all you can see is the fairway rising gently in front of you and what appears to be the lip of a bunker on the crest of the hill to the left side of the fairway. It is a bunker – and a big one at that. What you can’t see is a second sandy trap laying alongside and much closer to the centre of the fairway. In terms of risk and reward values, this is a terrific hole. Most long hitters can blaze their drive over the bunkers and finish quite close to the putting surface after a generous kick down the far side of the rise. But out-of-bounds is not far to the left of this line, so it is a tee shot that has its risk.
There is an equally good short two-shotter on the inward nine that is worthy of mention here. From the back markers, the 297-metre 15th is one hole that has dramatically improved with age. When I first played this hole back in 2003, it felt like I was playing through the backyards of homes backing onto the golf course. The maturation of the boundary trees, creating a significant green barrier down both sides of the fairway, has lessened the impact of the neighbouring residential development. As a result, this diminutive par-4 has grown in stature. Three fairway bunkers to the left narrow down the fairway in the final 60 metres before the green, but the player choosing a shorter club from the tee won’t be bothered with them and they will still have a short to mid-iron into a large, receptive green.
Peregian measures 6,169 metres from the back markers, which is not a lengthy excursion by modern standards. Again, this makes Scott’s layout a lot of fun because he has relied on strategy rather than length. In saying that, there are two par-5s – the 520-metre 7th and the 530-metre 9th – that are genuine three-shot holes for even the longest hitters.
For mine, another factor contributing to having fun on any course is it must have a good variety of par-3s, not just in length but also in the type of tee shots they demand. To that end, Peregian boasts four very different and memorable one-shotters.
My favourite on the front nine is the 145-metre 8th. Over the years, the edges of the hole have filled in with trees and there is now a feeling of isolation from the outside world as you stand on the tee. The tall stands of trees lining the slightly uphill route to the green also serve to shelter you from the breeze, which can make club selection a real challenge. You can’t see the bottom of the flag on the tee, but what you can see are the three bunkers, two left and another right, that lie alongside the putting surface.
The best example of the improved course presentation can be seen in the condition of the Bermuda grass greens, which are close to flawless and roll at a very good speed. On the 8th, keeping the green speed in mind, I recommend you try to leave your tee shot short of the flag on a putting surface that slopes from back to front.
“The best example of the improved course presentation can be seen in the condition of the Bermuda grass greens, which are close to flawless … "
There is a similar sense of isolation when you stand on the tee of the 140-metre par-3 14th. Again, both sides of the hole are densely treed and the closer you get to the green the more the trees come into play. The slightly pushed-up green is a relatively small target with two bunkers short left, one short right and a fourth off to the right side of the putting surface. Leaving a tee shot in the sand here is, however, more preferable than missing left and watching as your ball bounds down a slope and into thick scrub (speaking from experience here).
One could argue the bulk of Peregian’s finest offerings can be found on the back nine, which covers more undulating terrain and features a large lake that comes into play on four holes. The toughest of the holes by the lake is the long par-4 13th – which measures 395 metres from the tips and calls for a tee shot over the edge of the water to a fairway that turns slightly right toward a long flat bunker – which is separated from the lake by a line of shrubby trees. The fairway veers back to the left around the lake, before bending again to the right and slightly uphill to a deep green, protected in front by a large bunker. The shortest line between tee and green is from the right half of the fairway but the risk of finding the water increases as a result.
Peregian has come a long way since it reopened in December 2016. It’s current rate of improvement has not gone unnoticed by judges for this magazine’s public access course rankings and it won’t surprise if it makes its debut in that list when it is next published.
LOCATION: Peregian Springs Dve, Peregian Springs, Queensland, 4573.
CONTACT: (07) 5471 5400.
DESIGNER: Phil Scott (2003).
PLAYING SURFACES: Bermuda 328 (greens), couch (fairways, tees and rough)
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: Brian Wilson.
PGA PROFESSIONAL: Craig Goodall.
GREEN FEES: $74 (18 holes), $69 (book & pay online); $37 (juniors).
PLAYING PASSES: Peregian offers a range of playing passes. For example, a Lifestyle Access Pass for $395 a year (or $37 a month) offers half-price green fees, seven days a week. A Total Access pass offers unlimited golf anytime and costs $220 a month or $2,395 annually. Pass holders enjoy many benefits including exclusive offers, discounted cart hire plus the ability to introduce up to three guests at the special partner rate when playing alongside you.
Visitors to the Sunshine Coast can also now save money while playing four terrific courses – including Peregian, Noosa Springs, Pelican Waters and Twin Waters – by purchasing a Sunshine Coast Golf Pass for only $319. Visit www.golfsunshinecoast.com.au for details.
FACILITIES: Everyone is made to feel welcome at Peregian, which is why it has relaxed dress regulations to ensure all golfers and visitors are made to feel at ease, whether they are on the course, the driving range or in the bar and restaurant. Families and travellers are encouraged to enjoy the wonderful facilities such as the Par Bar, where you can relax and watch the sports channels provided, or the restaurant, which offers a variety of gourmet meals for lunch seven days a week.