THE magnetism of Arnold Palmer was as powerful as it was difficult to explain.
The only time I was fortunate enough to be in his presence was at the Centenary Australian Open dinner in 2004 when Mr Palmer was a guest.
The Australian Golf Digest team summoned the courage to ask the great man for a photograph and the aura that comes with a professional golf record with few peers melted in an instant by the warm embrace of his eyes.
Since his passing last September at age 87, many tales of Palmer’s generosity and warmth have been told by those throughout the golf world, of how he could make those in his presence feel immediately at ease with barely a word spoken. He had the ears of presidents and the elite of corporate America yet he remained a man of the people.
It is this essence that Sanctuary Cove is endeavouring to honour with their latest developments surrounding The Palms course.
As the publicly accessible area of Sanctuary Cove, The Palms in the past had been viewed as an inferior offering to the members-only luxury found at The Pines and its associated clubhouse. But with an expanded golf shop and inviting bar and restaurant area overlooking the 18th green and first tee, guests are made to feel welcome as soon as they walk through
Fittingly, it is called Arnie’s Café and Bar and is where golf guests, gym members, residents and members can gather for breakfast, lunch or a post-round drink on the 140-square-metre deck.
When Palmer passed, the club had still not decided on a name for its new dining facility but senior operations manager David Saunders said Arnie’s Café and Bar seemed appropriate, and came with a historical link.
“I mentioned Arnie’s Café to one of our long-term members and he mentioned that the old Signatures Restaurant downstairs was actually first called Arnie’s Café,” Saunders told Australian Golf Digest. “We sought permission from the Palmer Group to use the name, which they were happy to give us, and this facility will certainly serve as a way to honour Mr Palmer.
“As the designer of The Pines and the club’s first president, Mr Palmer obviously holds a very special place in the hearts of our members and it’s certainly an association that is quite important to
“For the past five years we have been looking at ways of enhancing the experience of guests to Sanctuary Cove and the opening of Arnie’s Café and Bar in December really was the final piece of the puzzle,” Saunders added.
As a way of further encouraging patronage of green-fee paying golfers, Sanctuary Cove has developed the VIP Golf Pass. For $299 you receive two full rounds on the Ross Watson-designed Palms course, a $50 golf shop voucher, a $50 food and beverage voucher, 50 percent off driving range balls at The Palms driving range and Sanctuary Cove will maintain your GolfLink handicap for 12 months. You will also enjoy seven-day discounted green fees of $75 per round as a cardholder, and $90 per round for each of your guests – both prices inclusive of shared electric carts.
For a course that this magazine ranked No.48 in the country in our latest ranking of the Top 100 Courses in Australia, it represents wonderful value for money and a great way to immerse yourself in the Sanctuary Cove experience.
A Place To Call Their Own
In a modern world where equity memberships are becoming harder and harder to make palatable to the discerning golf consumers, by upgrading the facilities attached to The Palms, management at Sanctuary Cove has been able to give The Pines back to the members for their exclusive use.
With fellow Gold Coast layout Lakelands Golf Club’s decision to move to a purely public facility at the end of this financial year, Sanctuary Cove is in the fortunate position of being able to offer two very different experiences to their members and guests.
Arnold Palmer was renowned for the magnanimous way he would welcome guests to his Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida that he called home for many years; but wear a hat inside the clubhouse or walk through with your shirt untucked and you could equally expect a gentle rebuke from Mr Palmer.
It is the same kind of atmosphere that permeates The Pines and while it may not be to the liking of all golfers, it is recognition that conduct at The Pines is held to a higher standard.
“Before we upgraded the facilities at The Palms, we did hold a number of functions and corporate events at The Pines clubhouse due to the different standards of our facilities. That is no longer the case, so while we now get to host weddings and functions at The Palms, we have also retained exclusivity at the private members’ club.”
Ranked three places higher than The Palms at No.45 in our ranking in March 2016, The Pines has been undergoing a range of on-course improvements by the Arnold Palmer Design Company over the past three years. The bunkering at every hole was reviewed and ranged from minor alterations and improvements to major changes – such as at the par-5 11th where bunkers have been moved from the right to the left side of the fairway, reduction by a third of the bunker fronting the green of the 400-metre par-4 15th and alterations to the bunkering at the 163-metre par-3 16th.
While in many cases the changes have contributed to a reduction in ongoing maintenance costs, they have been implemented to hold true to the design philosophies that are inherent in the only Arnold Palmer signature course in Australia.
Yes, The Pines remains the exclusive playground of members and guests of the adjacent InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, but guests at The Palms will leave having enjoyed the experience expected from Sanctuary Cove. This is now a premium facility to be enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life.
Just as Mr Palmer would have wanted.
Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club
Where: The Parkway, Sanctuary Cove QLD 4212
Phone: (07) 5699 9000