The former Australian Masters champion stays loyal to the courses he’s succeeded on as well as choosing the ones he loves in his top-ten layouts.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Bay Hill is just a very good test of golf and fortunately for me I managed to get a win out of the course ten years ago this month.
Cypress Point Club
I’m fortunate to get to play Cypress once, maybe twice a year. I certainly love that golf course – it’s like going back in time. It’s a little bit short for the modern game but they just keep it the same as when it was originally designed. The short holes have tricky greens, the long holes have not-so tricky greens, and that’s the way golf was back in the day. And then you get out to the water holes along the coast. They’re quite amazing.
It’s my home course where I grew up playing and learned this crazy game. Caboolture is also where the PGA’s Pampling Plate (the Queensland Trainee Match Play Championship) is held each year. The members are always good whenever I go back, wanting to know how I’m going.
Castle Pines GC
Here and Bay Hill are the two courses where I won on the PGA Tour. They’re good courses regardless of winning there – I still enjoy both – but the good memories make them all the more special. The International modified Stableford event at Castle Pines is sadly no longer part of the circuit.
New South Wales GC
New South Wales is just phenomenal. The scenery is amazing and again it’s a classic course that isn’t ridiculously designed. Being right on the coast, when the wind blows, well, good luck! Sometimes breaking 80 around that place is extremely difficult. But it’s built to withstand the conditions.
Colonial is old-school. You look at it on paper and walk around there and you think you’re going to shoot 30-under every time you play the tournament there, but invariably the winning score is in the teens below par. It’s just a golf course that has stood the test of time and doesn’t need silly pin spots to stop low scores.
Muirfield Village GC
It’s another classic course – a bit longer than Colonial – and is a great layout. Jack Nicklaus did a great job designing that course. It’s been a while since I’ve been there but I always enjoy playing the Memorial Tournament.
I love the way there’s no big walks anywhere at Victoria. You hit it onto the green, you putt out and the next tee is right there. They’ve done a fantastic job with that golf course and it’s another that gets very difficult in a little breeze. To me Kingston Heath is the same – I enjoy both visually, and it’s the weather rather than the design that dictates how difficult the course plays.
The Australian GC
The Australian has obviously become a very good friend to me in the past few years [Pampling has finished second and fourth in the past two Australian Opens there, and holds the course record]. I enjoy it and having the course record there is certainly a feather in the cap. The course just fits my eye really well so I’m definitely happy if they keep picking it to hold the Aussie Open, that’s for sure.
The California GC
This is the best piece of golf property in the USA without water around it. It sits up there in San Francisco, not far from the airport, and I love it. It’s trimmed up and is like playing a flatter version of Augusta National, but it’s a favourite more because of the whole piece of property, which is just phenomenal. And the scenery you get from on top of some of those hills looking down towards the bay is spectacular.
THE PAMPLING RESUME
- Owns six professional victories worldwide, including two US PGA
- Shared fifth place at the 2005 Masters, his lone top-ten at a major.
- Obliterated The Australian Golf Club layout last November with a course-record 61 in the final round of the Australian Open.
- Took the highly admiral step of personally thanking those tournament directors who granted him a sponsor invitation during his lean spells on the PGA Tour.