With nearly 30 percent of Australian golf courses being of the nine-hole variety, you don’t have to venture too far to find one that offers plenty of fun without burning a hole in your pocket.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Bondi Golf & Diggers Club
Tom Doak is one of the great talents of modern golf course architecture. He not only designs wonderful courses but he visits a lot of layouts during his global travels and, at the end of each year, he releases a list of the best courses he’s seen throughout the year.
Nestled on his list for 2018, among some renowned layouts, was Bondi – a little nine-holer that lies across the top of a headland overlooking the world famous beach to the south. The views from here are extraordinary and there is no question the course always promises a challenging round given the terrain and ever-present wind.
Green fee: $15 (nine holes, weekdays), $25 (weekends).
Breakers Country Club
Breakers Country Club is a pretty, par-33 nine-hole layout at Wamberal on the Central Coast.
Formerly known as Terrigal Memorial Country Club, the course has six par-4s and three par-3s and offers alternate tees for those looking to play 18 holes. In recent times, the presentation of the layout has markedly improved and the small, slightly raised greens are terrific to putt on.
Breakers is a challenging course with thickly tree-lined fairways, while water comes into play on six of the nine holes. One of those holes is the 322-metre par-4 3rd hole where you must choose to lay-up short or try and carry a creek that cuts diagonally through the fairway. The shortest carry is down the right edge of the fairway but this will leave a complicated approach around tall trees to find the narrow green, which is protected by one bunker left and another right.
Green fee: $25 (nine holes).
The closest course to the Sydney CBD is a golfing oasis just minutes north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In fact, the freeway approach to the bridge runs by the western boundary of the course, which underwent a redesign back in the late 1960s as a result.
Cammeray’s well-manicured tree-lined fairways and small greens demand precise
ball-striking. Arguably the most testing of its holes is the 164-metre par-3 6th. From an elevated tee, nothing is hidden from view as you set up for a tee shot that must carry a lake to find the putting surface. A tall tree front right of the green comes into play and can propel balls back into the water.
Green fee: $27 (nine holes, weekdays); $29 (weekends).
Harrington Waters Golf Club
Situated at the mouth of the Manning River, Harrington Waters is about 25 minutes’ drive east of Taree on the NSW North Coast.
Designed by Richard Mercer and opened for play in 2006, the layout loops clockwise next to a residential development and features
out-of-bounds left and water to the right on several holes. That said, Mercer created the layout with enough width to keep casual golfers interested and better players challenged to hit precise shots on the correct playing lines. Alternate tees on every hole add to the variety of shots you will face if you decide to play 18 holes.
Harrington Waters features an architecturally-designed clubhouse with a pro-shop and licensed café with a balcony where you can soak in the views of the beautifully maintained layout.
Green fee: $25 (nine holes, Monday to Saturday), $15 (Sunday).
Lord Howe Island GC
Characterised by sandy beaches, subtropical forests and crystal clear waters, Lord Howe Island is a world-heritage listed paradise, which provides a unique backdrop for a round of golf.
With the towering Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower on one side and the blue Tasman Sea on the other, the Lord Howe Island course originated from a market garden in 1969 and has been developed and expanded into one of the most scenic nine-hole courses in Australia.
Boasting five par-3s and four par-4s, the layout meanders through a lush kentia palm forest and out into the gently undulating fairways along the ocean foreshore. This not only brings the beach into play but the wind offers its own challenges. For most, the oceanside 2nd and 8th holes – both par-3s – are the highlights of a round.
Lord Howe Island can be reached in less than two hours flying from Sydney or Brisbane. This month, the club will celebrate 50 years of hosting the annual Lord Howe Island Open, from November 9 to 15, which offers more than $8,000 in prizes.
Green fee: $20 (nine holes); $95 (weekly unlimited golf).
Mollymook GC – Beachside Course
Measuring an easy-walking 2,102 metres from the tips, Mollymook’s Beachside layout covers undulating terrain between beautiful Mollymook Beach and the equally stunning Collers Beach inlet.
While hardcore golfers tend to make a beeline for the Top-100 ranked Hilltop course, a few minutes’ drive away, the par-33 Beachside course is perfect for a fun holiday hit with the kids or casual golfing friends.
The variety of the par-3s is an obvious highlight of playing Beachside. This can be seen with the back-to-back one-shotters – the 6th and 7th holes. The 6th is a straightforward 106-metre hole calling for a wedge or other short iron to find the long, bunkerless green. The next hole is arguably the layout’s most interesting par-3 where the tee shot is struck from an elevated tee down to a green that is heavily-bunkered to the right.
Green fee: $19 (nine holes, weekdays); $25 (weekends). Packages including green fee,
hire clubs, pull buggy, tees and five balls are available.
Royal Sydney GC – Centenary Course
Royal Sydney also offers a short nine-hole layout called the Centenary Course, which was completely rebuilt to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary in 1997.
Water also comes into play on six of the nine holes. Of the courses showcased here, the Centenary Course might possess the best putting surfaces of all.
Green fee: Private course. Members’ guests only.