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Long Drives: NSW South Coast and ACT - Australian Golf Digest Long Drives: NSW South Coast and ACT - Australian Golf Digest

Whether you hug the coastline or venture inland to the nation’s capital, the New South Wales South Coast and ACT cater to the tastes of every golfer.

You could play one round of golf in the time it takes you to drive from Links Shell Cove in Wollongong all the way down to Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club on the far South Coast of New South Wales. But that winding stretch of beautiful bitumen and all it has to offer was never meant to be conquered in just one day.

It may not come with the cachet of the Great Ocean Road but travelling south from Sydney on the Princes Highway sets out in front of you 350 kilometres of coastal views, quaint cottage-lined towns and an abundance of golf courses that warmly welcome golfers with a sense of adventure.

Given that our travel plans are likely to be restricted to our own continent for the foreseeable future, a South Coast discovery is well overdue for those yet to make the trek.

Links Shell Cove

At a time when some councils view golf courses as a drain on the community’s access to greenspace, Shellharbour City Council saw opportunity.

Opened originally as Shellharbour Links in Shellharbour, south of Wollongong, in 2004 with 1995 Open Championship runner-up Costantino Rocca in attendance, Shellharbour City Council took over the ownership and operation of Links Shell Cove in April 2008 with a view to making it a facility that could be enjoyed by a broad demographic of locals and visitors alike.

Those plans took a giant leap forward in May of this year when the Shanx mini-golf course was unveiled, its timing on the back of the hugely popular “Holey Moley” mini-golf extravaganza on Channel Seven the perfect confluence
of preparation and opportunity.

An 18-hole course with two separate holes to play to depending on the challenge you are seeking, the country’s first Shanx mini-golf course is the ideal addition after a multi-million-dollar renovation of “The Shed” – the club’s entertainment hub boasting spectacular views across the Links Shell Cove golf course, function facilities, sports bar and children’s entertainment areas.

The course itself has matured into a picturesque mix of parkland and links-style golf, the open nature of the layout and elevation changes providing both subtle shot selection adjustments and tee shots that soar into the sky so high you wonder whether it will ever land.

linksshellcove.com.au

Worrigee Links

Head further south towards Nowra and you will arrive at the newest golf course on the South Coast, Worrigee Links.

Officially opened in 2005, Worrigee Links quickly established itself as one of the nicest and best-kept layouts on the coast. With wide-open fairways, strategically placed bunkering and well-manicured greens, this par 70 layout can be enjoyed by all standards of golfer.

Led by head professional Greg Drummond, the pro shop is open every day for golf bookings, shop sales, hire equipment, club repairs and golf lessons, including clothing, clubs, bags, buggies, balls and a large range of essential golfing accessories.

The Worrigee Sports club has undergone a major facelift and rebrand in recent times with a stunning new-look entry, bar and bistro area. It’s fresh, bold and a little sophisticated. With panoramic views across the greens of Worrigee Links, Worrigee Sports offers a truly unique, one-stop venue to gather with friends and family, dine, drink or host a function or event. The Growers is the venue’s latest addition which boasts a beautiful but casual indoor-outdoor bar and eatery with locally sourced produce.

Worrigee Links, Worrigee Sports and The Growers is a five-minute drive from the Shoalhaven River and 10 minutes from beautiful Jervis Bay and beaches of Culburra, Callala and Greenwell Point.

worrigeesports.com.au

Club Catalina

A course with a proud tournament history that stretches back to the 1976 South Coast Open when Rodger Davis, Terry Gale and Greg Norman filled the first three spots on the leaderboard, Club Catalina in Batemans Bay has made significant investment in its golf operations during the past six months.

With Mitchel Judd joining as director of golf and Rodney Booth coming on board as golf professional, Club Catalina now boasts an additional 30 years of industry knowledge and experience, Judd joining from the ultra-exclusive Cathedral Lodge and Booth most recently serving as director of golf at Tocumwal Golf Club for six years.

A 27-hole facility accessible to member and visitor play and playable all year round, Club Catalina also features a fully equipped driving range, great short game area and a suitably sized practice putting green. Having recently upgraded the entire cart fleet and with the added technology of a Visage GPS system, your trip around the golf course is not only enjoyable but also aided by industry-leading technology to ensure that your score meets your experience.

“Our goal is pretty simple, really. We strive to be the pre-eminent golf destination on the South Coast,” Judd says. “I believe if we focus on our people, our community and the experience our members and guests are having then everything else will look after itself.”

By engaging with local schools Booth is presiding over a thriving junior program that is enhanced by a band of Golf Australia qualified community coaches.

Club Catalina also boasts superb facilities within the clubhouse. After renovations last year and more planned for the coming years it is an aesthetically pleasing way to wind down after an enjoyable day on the course.

clubcatalina.com.au

Moruya Golf Club

Nestled just south of the Moruya River that has tributaries that branch off into the course’s north-eastern corner, Moruya Golf Club has the look of a traditional parkland layout but one that rewards those who think before they swing.

The double green shared by the ninth and 18th holes – and which provided the inspiration for the acclaimed Double Green Restaurant – is fronted by the largest body of water on the golf course, yet it is the slivers of waterways that reach into all corners of the course that ask the more pertinent questions. Do you lay up short of those that split the fairway or dare carry them for a shorter approach shot into the green? Be judicious in your club choices or the small greenside ponds come into play.

The club hosted the Golfmate NSW/ACT PGA State Associate Championship in June and in challenging conditions only the victor, Sanctuary Cove’s Mitchell Smith, completed the four rounds in less than par.

moruyagolfclub.com.au

Club Tuross

There may not be many flat lies during your round at Club Tuross at Tuross Head, but that’s a sacrifice worth making for the stunning views that this nine-hole gem affords.

Perched on Tuross Head itself, the golf course boasts two sets of tees for those eager to play 18 with water views in every direction that you look, whether east to the Pacific Ocean, north-west over Coila Creek or south to the Tuross Inlet that feeds into the Tuross River.

Just 20 minutes south of Moruya, Club Tuross serves as more than a haven for golfers. It also boasts two lawn bowling greens, an outdoor beer garden that is the place to be in the warmer months and a restaurant that is open seven days a week with a diverse menu including classic favourites, Asian delights and pizzas and pasta. There’s even a carefully constructed kids menu featuring ‘I Don’t Know’ (chicken nuggets and chips), ‘I Don’t Want It’ (cheeseburger and chips), ‘Anything’ (fish cocktails and chips), ‘I’m Not Hungry’ (spaghetti napolitana) and ‘Whatever’ (spaghetti bolognaise).

After your meal the club often has an entertainment offering for all ages including live music, karaoke, trivia nights and poker every Saturday night.

thcc.net.au

Bermagui Country Club

Always a popular stop on the PGA Tour of Australasia Legends Tour, Bermagui Country Club is a beguiling golf experience that delivers postcard-worthy scenery while applying the squeeze to whatever golf game you happen to bring on the day.

With views of the seaside town, Horseshoe Bay and Gulaga Mountain rising beyond the course’s western fringe, the setting for golf could hardly be more idyllic yet the challenge it poses is compelling. Four of the first five par 4s on the golf course stretch beyond 375 metres at their longest and three of the layout’s four par-3s play between 161 and 178 metres. Scoring opportunities are on offer at the par 5s, and the 330-metre 14th and 316-metre 17th are gettable if your long game has stood up to the earlier test.

Resident PGA professional Chris Hearn has guided the golf shop operations for the past 20 years and the Terrace Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

bermaguicountryclub.com 

Narooma Golf Club

Every golf destination needs a big-ticket item and Narooma Golf Club is the course that has to feature somewhere on a South Coast golf itinerary.

The two nines are distinctly different yet offer shot-making opportunities that players of the highest calibre will revel in.

There’s the second shot into the par-4 second to a green perched on the edge of the cliff face; survive that and you’re confronted with a tee shot at the par-3 third that must first traverse a chasm and the ocean below before reaching the putting surface 141 metres away.

The six oceanside holes are a breathtaking way to begin a round of golf but Narooma wouldn’t be ranked the 82nd-best course in the country by this magazine without the quality continuing on the back nine. The setting is more at the southern end of the course is of a tree-lined coastal nature with the holes wrapping around Little Lake that sits in the centre of this section of the golf course. The lake is in play on a number of holes but none more so than the par-4 15th, a short par 4 that dares you to cut off as much of the water as you dare to provide an easier approach to your second.

Given its status as a golf drawcard, Narooma Golf Club holds a special place within the local community and became a safe haven when bushfires ravaged the region in January 2020. The course is a source of great pride but one Narooma residents are happy to share with those who pay them a visit.

naroomagolf.com.au

Tura Beach Country Club

For those with a sense of history it is impossible to bypass a round at Tura Beach Country Club, a course designed by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge that will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2022.

A northern suburb of Merimbula, Tura Beach was established by AV Jennings in 1980 and has the honour of being the first purpose-built integrated golf course and housing development in Australia. A major selling point was the Thomson/ Wolveridge imprint on the golf course that features a par 3 that plays straight towards the ocean and another that runs so closely alongside Short Point Beach that the salt air brushes gently across your face if you play down the left side of the fairway.

If Thomson’s connection to the British links and in particular his fondness of St Andrews wasn’t enough, the playing surfaces at Tura Beach have been raised to a new level under the guiding hand of course superintendent Brad Foster. A Merimbula native, Foster not only spent time working on the hallowed grounds of St Andrews and Royal Wimbledon Golf Club in the UK but also at famed Los Angeles Country Club and Liberty National Golf Course, site of the 2017 Presidents Cup.

If the golf alone isn’t enough to tempt you to Tura Beach, the Ocean View Bistro is open seven nights a week with a range of daily specials and the two bowling greens boast a panoramic view of the coastline that are next to impossible to beat.

turabeachcountryclub.com.au

Pambula Merimbula Golf Club

Timing is everything when it comes to a golf trip and Pambula Merimbula Golf Club comes to life during the third week of October for the annual Week of Golf.

To be held from Saturday, October 16 until Sunday, October 24 and concluding with the Pambula Merimbula Men’s Open Championship, the 2021 Sapphire Coast Week of Golf comprises multiple days of women’s, men’s and mixed competitions with more than 500 golfers expected to grace the 27 beautifully manicured golf holes that cut through natural bushland, boasting an abundance of native wildlife and providing an outstanding golf experience.

Come as a group or come by yourself and the club will find you a partner for the team events. The tournament format now has open timesheets so that men, women or couples can play together with prizes are awarded separately for men’s, women’s and mixed competitions.

Highly regarded for its friendly atmosphere and professional organisation, the tournament has encouraged many return visits from golfers with some having participated for more than 30 years.

pmgcgolf.com.au 

National Pride

When travelling along the New South Wales South Coast, a short drive inland opens the door to all that the Australian Capital Territory has to offer.

The centre of Canberra lies just two hours from Batemans Bay and makes for an ideal addendum to any golf trip in this particular part of the country. Not only does it house the political epicentre of our nation but there is an abundance of golf courses that have undergone significant improvements in recent years.

Long-time host of the acclaimed Federal Amateur, Federal Golf Club (federalgolf.com.au) is just five minutes from Parliament House yet in many ways is the quintessential inland Australian layout, kangaroos lounging at every bend in the fairway and gorgeous vistas of the Brindabella Ranges.

Widely recognised as the No.1 course in the ACT freely available to the public, Federal has just enough elevation change to challenge your club selection and stretch out your calves.

The par-5 first requires exact execution from the opening hole and your adjustment to elevation gets its first test at the 150-metre downhill par-3 third. The more dramatic holes are found on the back nine and the par-4 11th is a dogleg that wraps left and uphill to the green, playing too close to the inside line of the dogleg making the second shot increasingly difficult. That is followed by the longest par 3 on the golf course – the 184-metre 12th – and then two holes later the par-4 14th that again shapes from right to left with an elevated tee and playing to an elevated green.

Taking inspiration from the structure atop nearby Parliament House, the club has recently completed a rebranding exercise that will be used extensively not only for the golf course but also the award-wining restaurant and wedding and function venue.

Although technically lying just across the New South Wales border, Queanbeyan Golf Club is another to include when in Canberra with clubs in tow. Found 20 minutes east of the heart of Canberra, Queanbeyan (queanbeyangolf.com.au) is a par-70 tree-lined course with rich green fairways that hark back to courses found in the English countryside.

Although small, the bent greens are some of the best putting surfaces in the region and demand accuracy with approach shots and a steady hand once on the green itself. The superb playing surfaces currently being presented will be enhanced even further by a new irrigation system in the coming months along with the tees, fairways and surrounds being over-sown with ryegrass to provide greater definition and improved playability.

Inside the clubhouse is also first class also with original owner of the legendary Central Café and local legend Victor Prineas currently in charge of the Bread ’n Putter Bistro while Jake Nagle, grandson of 1960 Open champion Kel Nagle, is nearing his 10th year as the club’s PGA professional.

The course is open to the public seven days a week so any time you are visiting Canberra is a good time to play golf at Queanbeyan.