IT’S home to some of the country’s most exclusive golf clubs. But a short drive down the Harbour City’s many motorways reveals one of Australia’s most under-rated golfing regions. There are dozens of fun layouts – public and private – southwest and northwest of the Sydney CBD, ready to be enjoyed by the visiting golfer or potential member. From the new-look links of Riverside Oaks Resort to the rolling fairways of Twin Creeks, here is just a sample of the pleasures that await you…
CAMDEN LAKESIDE COUNTRY CLUB
AUSTRALIA’S greatest British Open Champion, Peter Thomson, used his intimate knowledge of Scottish links courses to carve a stunning replica out of southwest Sydney’s picturesque Macarthur region. The five-times Open champion chose one of Australia’s oldest wine regions to position the par-72, 6,400-metre layout, just 40 minutes from Sydney’s CBD. It has everything a links course should – hard, fast and undulating fairways, pot bunkers, perched greens and hardly a flat lie on the course – but with an Australian bushland feel. The course has some tempting short par 4s where creeks and lakes come into play, as well as several open par 5s that are well exposed to the wind. Driving home the viticulture theme of the region is the fifth hole, where a tee shot perched high above a traditional links par 5 offers a magnificent vista of the historic Gledswood Homestead and Winery. The signature hole, however, is the finishing par-4 18th [pictured] – a spectacular risk/reward hole that tempts the golfer to bite off the edge of the lake on the left for a short approach. Current and future members are in for a treat when another Open champ – Greg Norman – re-designs the layout and adds a new nine-hole course at Gledswood Hills. Gledswood Hills developer Sekisui House commissioned The Shark to apply his design expertise to Thomson’s gem, and then construct a new course within the old El Caballo Blanco theme park site.
Our Tip For Playing…
WHILE you’re here, it’d be a crime not to sample some of the wines of the Macarthur region – believed to be the birthplace of Australian viticulture. More than 180 years after John Macarthur planted one of Australia’s first commercial vineyards, this region is now home to Gledswood Homestead, Camden Estate, Fussy Grape and Razorback Ridge wineries.
50 Raby Rd,
Catherine Field, NSW 2171
(02) 9606 5277
TWIN CREEKS GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Twin Creeks’ general manager Grant Martin did his best to downplay the excitement at Australia’s No.71-ranked golf course. But the buzz surrounding this Graham Marsh-designed beauty is becoming deafening. For a start, it has incoming new owners who are ready to spend. Course improvements have already begun and plans for a 300-room, 6-Star hotel on the course are in discussion. Meanwhile, all the neighbouring real estate lots have been sold. And then there’s Sydney’s planned Badgerys Creek Airport – reportedly set to rival America’s JFK Airport in size – to be built literally minutes down the road, making the easy 45-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD even more accessible to those from interstate and beyond. For those looking to get a taste of what GWS golf is all about, Twin Creeks is a must. A diverse layout spread across 800 acres of bushland with superb clubhouse facilities, you actually forget you’re in Sydney, such is the tranquil and secluded nature of the Nepean Valley region. The course is littered with great bunkering and will have you using every club in the bag. You’ll more than likely spot a few famous faces on the course, with several celebrities calling this their club of choice.
Our Tip For Playing…
Twin Creeks is big on member-guest access and corporate golf. So get your employer to get in touch to tee up a day you’ll be talking about for some time.
Twin Creeks Drive,
Luddenham NSW 2745
Phone: (02) 9670 8888
RIVERSIDE OAKS GOLF RESORT
ITS Cattai location is hidden from central Sydney, but that’s merely a buffer zone to protect the Harbour City’s only 36-hole golf resort from the stress of the daily grind. Riverside Oaks – on the banks of the Hawkesbury – offers the Gangurru and Bungool layouts. The former hosts the NSW PGA Championship and features a resort-style, 18-hole par 72 championship course of 6,311 metres. Resort guests will enjoy the changes in elevation, short par 4s, water carries and tempting par 5s. The recently-completed (and more challenging) Bungool layout is a links-style course designed by the renowned Bob Harrison. This beautiful piece of real estate allows the golfer to truly interact with Mother Nature, in the form of long rough, wind and thousands of resident kangaroos – even ancient Aboriginal drawing caves in the forest directly right of the second tee!
Our Tip For Playing…
Both courses simply must be played when you head out to Riverside Oaks – 64 kilometres northwest of Sydney. If you want to complete this 36-hole golfing wonderland in one day, be sure to arrange an early morning tee time to complete both courses and a relaxed lunch interval, all before sunset. If a stay and play is your indulgence, book accommodation in one of the resort’s 36 first-class rooms, including six executive suites.
74 O’Briens Rd,
Cattai, NSW, 2756
Phone: (02) 4560 3200
SEBEL RESORT & SPA HAWKESBURY VALLEY
The Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley is the only 4.5 star hotel located in the Hawkesbury and Nepean regions. With 105 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, it is perfect for a family holiday, romantic weekend escape, conferences, weddings, or just to get away from the busy city.
Located in the historic town of Windsor in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, the hotel is set within 8 hectares of manicured, landscaped gardens, and includes an indoor heated pool, two floodlit tennis courts, an on-site 9-hole golf course and adjacent 18-hole championship course, fully equipped gym and kid’s playground, plus the only Villa Thalgo Day Spa in Australia. The resort has eight formal and five informal meeting rooms (most with natural light), offering conference organisers and delegates the ideal venue for company training, product launches or incentives.
Our Tip For Staying…
Exclusive to Australian Golf Digest readers, the Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley are offering a special $129 room-only rate in one of their Barracks Suites. Stays must be before September 30, 2015. Bookings can be made via [email protected] or by calling (02) 4577 4222. Quote ‘Golf’ when booking.
61 Hawkesbury Valley Way (Previously Richmond Road)
Windsor, NSW, 2756
Phone: (02) 4577 4222
MACQUARIE LINKS INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB
ONE of the staples of any western Sydney golf diet, ‘Mac Links’ dishes up the perfect combination of beauty and beast. Designer Robin Nelson has carefully crafted a blend of Scottish links with some modern resort pizazz, highlighted by the addictive par-3 11th that demands an intimidating 170-metre carry over a gorge – rated by many as the best par 3 in Sydney. One visitor summed up their Macquarie Links experience in one sentence via an online blog recently. “The only word I can use to describe this course is underrated,” Jlyra said on iseekgolf. After holding on to secure the final spot in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses ranking, it’s a point many will agree with. Indeed the club prides itself on customer service, and with a new function centre to soon adjoin the clubhouse, it’s clear this is a club thinking above and beyond the fairways. “It’s a championship course with great service all the way through,” says club professional Anthony Storich.
Our Tip For Playing…
Social play on any day subject to tee time availability. Open competition days are on Monday, Wednesday and Sundays, while the club is a popular choice for corporate golf days.
Macquarie Links Drive,
Macquarie Links NSW 2565
Phone: (02) 8796 5811
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GOLF COURSE GUIDE
31 Pembroke Parade, Wilton, NSW 2571
(02) 8016 6570
Cabramatta Golf Club
Cabramatta Rd, Cabramatta NSW 2166
(02) 9602 1516
50 Raby Rd, Catherine Field NSW 2171
(02) 9606 5277
Carnarvon Golf Club
65-95 Nottinghill Rd, Lidcombe NSW 2141
(02) 9649 6255
Castle Hill Country Club
Spurway Dr, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
(02) 9634 2499
Cumberland Country Golf Club
248 Old Prospect Rd, Greystanes NSW 2145
(02) 9631 0688
Dunheved Golf Club
Links Road, St Marys NSW 2760
(02) 9623 0239
Fairfield Golf Course
Crn Smithfield Rd & Beavors St, Prairiewood NSW 2175
(02) 9604 4007
Fox Hills Golf Club
55 Fox Hills Cres, Prospect NSW 2148
(02) 9631 7689
Liverpool Golf Club
Hollywood Dr, Lansvale NSW 2166
(02) 9728 7777
Lynwood Country Club
253 Pitt Town Bottoms Rd, Pitt Town NSW 2756
(02) 4580 280
Muirfield Golf Club
Barclay Rd, North Rocks NSW 2151
02 9871 7940
Oatlands Golf Club
Bettington Rd, Oatlands NSW 2117
(02) 9630 4444
Pennant Hills Golf Club
Crn Copeland Rd Burns Rd South, Beecroft NSW 2119;
(02) 8860 5800
Riverside Oaks Resort
74 O’Briens Rd, Cattai NSW 2756
(02) 4560 3220
86 Stonecutters Drive. Colebee NSW 2761
(02) 9627 7081
Windsor Country Club
McQuade Ave, South Windsor NSW 2756
(02) 9627 7081
Woodville Golf Club
118 Rawson Road, Guildford NSW 2161
(02) 9632 3582
HOW THE WEST WON ME OVER
For some reason, and I’m reluctant to say it’s innate snobbery because I’m originally from Melbourne, but I was really surprised by the quality of golf in western Sydney. As in, really surprised. There is no logical reason for it. Maybe it’s that I live in Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, so it can take an hour or so to get to the courses out in the west. But then, it can take that long to cross the road in my part of town at the wrong time of day. I love taking friends and family to play Twin Creeks and Macquarie Links because I love the surprise they get on their first outings. Both courses are excellent tests of golf, but also in great condition with some really terrific members. Maybe that’s what I like about playing golf in the west – the people.
– Australian Golf Digest columnist Andrew Daddo