For nearly 90 years, New South Wales Golf Club has basked in the glow of accolades from those golfers who have been lucky enough to sample its delights.
From the very best players the game has seen – like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman (who is a member and the club’s design consultant) – to Presidents (Bill Clinton), Prime Ministers (Bob Hawke) and world-famous celebrities, all have fallen in love with the 18 holes that cover the northern peninsula entrance into Sydney’s Botany Bay. And who can blame them?
Ranked No.7 in Golf Australia’s Top-100 Courses earlier this year, NSW is regularly listed among the best 50 courses on the planet.
After initial course designs were rejected by the NSW club on its formation in 1926, the acclaimed designer Dr Alister MacKenzie was commissioned and he provided the original routing and bunkering plans for the layout during a brief visit to Sydney in December 1926. A few months after his visit, he wrote an article for an American golf magazine describing what he had seen in Australia.
“At Sydney, I made an entirely new course for the New South Wales Golf Club at a place called La Perouse. This is a sand-duned peninsula which overlooks Botany Bay and presents, I think, more spectacular views than any other place I know,” he wrote.
A long line of designers have tweaked the design – mainly tees and greenscapes – starting with Eric Apperly, who implemented MacKenzie’s original bunkering plan and was also called on to lengthen several holes in the late 1930s after the ban on steel shafts was lifted by the R&A. Apperly, who was also a member of the club, also worked on improving the course after World War II.
MacKenzie’s routing and Apperly’s pre- and post-war changes still form the foundation of this wonderful golf course.
These days, the 6,245-metre layout features beautifully manicured couch fairways and some of the best bentgrass greens in the country. The holes nearest the ocean – the 5th, 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th and 15th – tend to receive more acclaim than the rest of the holes simply because of their spectacular setting.
And one of these gems is set to get even closer to the water. A masterplan by Greg Norman Golf Design will see the green of the iconic par-3 6th hole moved closer to the edge of Botany Bay, adding even more excitement to the tee shot on arguably Australia’s most photographed par-3. The green will be perched just above the edge of the shoreline, while the contours of the putting surface will predominantly see it sloped from right-to-left as you look at the green from the tee.
Strategy and shot-making of the highest order is needed to score well at NSW. Then, when the wind picks up and runs roughshod over the layout, a golfer must then dig deep into his/her reserves of stamina and shot creativity to simply card an acceptable score.
ADDRESS: Botany Bay National Park, La Perouse, NSW 2036.
CONTACT: (02) 9661 4455; (02) 9311 2573 (pro shop).
DESIGNERS: Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926); Eric Apperly (1932-’37 & 1948-’51); Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2010); Greg Norman (ongoing).
GREEN FEES: Limited tee-times are available for visitors, who are members of a golf club, on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
GOLF AUSTRALIA MAGAZINE TOP-100 COURSES HISTORY: No.5 (2012); No.5 (2014); No.7 (2016).
RANKING JUDGE’S COMMENTS:
“Grand land and rollicking golf among the dunes.” – James Bennett (2016)
“One gets excited just driving up to
the clubhouse thinking about the breathtaking course and views you are about to take in. Some of the greens can become incredibly hard in the wind.” – Cameron Howell (2016).
“There has been a significant amount of scrub cleared across the course, exposing some of the magnificent dunes as well as some previously hidden views. For example, the scrub that used to form a natural barrier to the back of the 16th green is gone, creating a challenge to your distance-judging abilities.” – Brendan James (2016).