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.
Bowen Golf Club celebrated its 90th anniversary last year and, despite its longevity, it remains a golfing hidden gem.
This beautiful nine-holer lies right on the edge of the beautiful waters of Queensland’s Whitsundays, with several holes running along the water’s edge. Likewise, the clubhouse with its huge verandah overlooks the sea and all its glory.
The par-35 is an easy-walking layout but the challenge ramps up when the wind whips in
from the ocean, providing a strong crosswind on most holes.
Perhaps Bowen’s best is left until last. The 132-metre par-3 9th plays back towards the ocean and creates the challenge of having to hit a short iron up into the breeze and staying out of a big bunker to the left. Another reason not to mess up here is the 9th green lies in front of the watchful eye of golfers sitting on the clubhouse verandah.
Green fee: $20 (nine holes). $50 (nine holes Sunday/Monday special for two players and
Constructed on natural rolling sand hills, Cooktown Links was carved from tropical bushland between Walker Bay and the Annan River, about 10 minutes’ drive south of town.
Mount Cook is a constant backdrop to the layout, which is the northernmost golf course on the Australian east coast. The beauty of the surrounds, and its isolation, make it a must-play for those travelling golfers keen to get off the beaten track.
Cooktown is not long but the wind blows here, particularly from the south east at around 20 knots on most days, adding to the challenge.
The holes at Cooktown have been laid out with little, or no, earthmoving and as a result have a natural feel about them. One example of this is the blind par-3 6th, which measures 206 metres from the tips and features a two-tiered green. Birdies here are extremely rare.
Green fee: $20 (nine holes).
Murgon, about 250km north-west of Brisbane, is home to a wonderful nine-hole course, which was designed and built by David Burrup, and opened for play in 1994.
The layout is a real surprise for first-timers. Large greens with smooth rolling surfaces are a highlight, as are the greens surrounds that feature bunkers (there are 12 across the layout), mounding and more dramatic slopes than you will find on most country courses.
One of Murgon’s most interesting holes is the 339-metre par-4 9th. The key here is to find the best side of the sloping fairway to leave a direct approach into the large, elevated, angled green and the pin position of the day. A large bunker hard against the right edge of the putting surface almost always determines the best shots come from the left half of the fairway.
Green fee: $15 (nine holes).
Noosa Valley CC
There are few, if any, prettier places to spend a few hours playing golf on the Sunshine Coast than the Noosa Valley Country Club.
Located in a serene valley about 20 minutes’ drive west of Noosa Heads, Noosa Valley is a beautiful nine-hole layout which you might mistake for a botanical garden if it wasn’t for the nicely manicured fairways and greens found between among the trees.
Green fee: $30 (nine holes).
Tamborine Mountain GC
Situated 500 metres above sea level in the Gold Coast hinterland, this picturesque nine-hole layout offers a round of difference to the renowned courses nearer the coast.
The views over the Gold Coast are stunning, as is the undulating course. The cooler, less humid, climate on the mountain is ideal for growing kikuyu fairways and bentgrass greens, both of which are beautifully presented.
Green fee: $17 (nine holes).
CopperClub Port Hughes
Designed by Greg Norman on the beautiful Yorke Peninsula, two hours northwest of Adelaide, CopperClub has some of the best playing surfaces in South Australia.
Guests will find 18 sets of tees across the nine-hole layout, which is made up of two par-5s, two par-3s and five par-4s.
Green fees: $33 (nine holes).
Mawson Lakes GC
Mawson Lakes, 12 kilometres from Adelaide’s CBD, was redesigned by acclaimed course architect Neil Crafter in 2012 and 2013 as part of the multi-million-dollar sports precinct development at the University of South Australia.
The bentgrass greens and kikuyu fairways have improved significantly since the project was completed – thanks to better irrigation – while the strategy of the layout has also been enhanced.
The par-4 3rd hole forces players to shape their shots and the par-4 6th features water down the left from tee to green. But the drivable, 260-metre par-4 9th is arguably the most enjoyable hole and will have visitors coming back for more.
Green fees: $15 (nine holes Tuesday to Sunday). Discounted rates apply on Mondays.
Penfield Golf Club, 30 minutes’ drive north of Adelaide, was designed and built by members of the Weapons Research Establishment Institute in 1959 and remained private until 2006 when the land was handed over to the state government.
The 5,470-metre layout features tree-lined kikuyu fairways and bentgrass greens, both of which are well-maintained all year round.
Four years ago, Penfield added two more greens and increased tee boxes to provide varied nine-hole loops while still sharing the same fairways.
Anybody wishing to enquire about membership at Penfield should note that the club is currently offering specials until the end of the year.
Green fees: $22 (nine holes).
Regency Park GC
Located 10 kilometres north of the Adelaide CBD, Regency Park was established in 1977 and offers good-quality playing surfaces and an enjoyable range of holes.
Visitors will find three par-3s, four par-4s and two par-5s, played twice from dual tee blocks to create the 5,622-metre par-70 layout.
Designed by Neil Crafter, Regency Park is an easy-to-walk course that will appeal to everyone from beginners to more established players. It presents generous fairways, interesting green complexes, large bunkers, native wildlife and tall gum trees.
Green fees: $17 (nine holes).
No website available
Flinders Island Sports & RSL Club
The Flinders Island course enjoys picturesque views over Bass Strait to the west and the island’s rugged interior to the east.
Covering rolling and sandy terrain, Flinders is exposed to daily winds adding to the challenge, which has apparently seen the layout parred (as 18 holes) just once in the past 40-odd years.
Green fee: $15 (nine holes).
No website available