One of Australia’s most iconic championship holes will be no more if a radical redesign course plan goes ahead.
Gil Hanse, the course architect for the 2016 Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro, among others, has revealed his plans (pictured) for Royal Sydney Golf Club after winning the right last year to submit a redesign masterplan for the 15-time Australian Open host venue. Among his plans is a par-3 closing hole to replace the famous dogleg-left par 4 that has become the theatre of so many dramatic Australian Open moments.
Other changes would include the elimination of the par-3 third hole, splitting the par-5 seventh hole into two par 4s while merging the eighth and ninth into one par 5. There are more shuffles on the inward nine, with the famous par-3 17th moving to become the 12th and the par-5 16th played one hole later in the sequence. The style and positioning of Hanse’s bunkers is a feature of the proposal, as are the par 3s – three of which will pass the 200-metre mark. Overall, the design sees the course gain 117 metres in total distance (6,344 metres to 6,461) while shedding a stroke on its par (from 72 down to 71).
Yet playing the 18th as a 212-metre one-shotter will likely turn most heads. The tee shot will essentially be a longer version of the second shot played to the current par-4 to a large green that retains the stately clubhouse as a backdrop.
The plan is not set in stone as Royal Sydney’s officials and membership will need to rubber-stamp any and all alterations before work begins.
Hanse’s appointment is part of a “2030 Strategic Masterplan” to future-proof the club against a number of challenges, including course maintenance and player accessibility, particularly concerning bunkers. But whether this plan meets the approval of the elite and notoriously secretive membership will be revealed in time, while the club has long maintained any work would not commence until 2019 at the earliest.