THE OLD adage goes, you cannot be all things to all people. But the decision makers at Indooroopilly Golf Club, on the banks of the Brisbane River, are determined to give it a crack.

In the early stages of compiling a five-year strategic plan to map the direction the club is heading, everything is up for discussion.

A short-term crèche with a golf flavour for use by members? Let’s look into it.

A multi-purpose fitness gym? Worth investigating at least.

A junior academy program that not only fosters development but provides access to elite coaching for promising golfers? Yep, we should definitely do that.

Indooroopilly Golf Club

It’s a refreshing and revitalising approach for a club that will celebrate its 90th year in 2016, and one which president Bruce Sackson believes is imperative for long-term success.

“We have to continue to evolve and provide our membership with not only the facets of the club they hold so dear, but be open to new aspects that will enhance their membership,” Sackson said.

“The friendly, welcoming atmosphere is one we have been conscious of protecting for a number of years and the membership is very happy as a result.

“But that’s not to say we can’t be doing more and the purpose of this latest strategic plan is to identify those areas most valued as additions to our club.”

Indooroopilly Golf Club

The proposed golf academy could be up and running by the end of the year, catering to golfers of all skill levels. It is one that director of golf Justin Rapley believes has the potential to inject new blood into the club.

“When I started here a little over 12 months ago we had six juniors. Six,”  Rapley says. “We now run two separate clinics of 12 juniors each on a Sunday morning, so as a club we certainly need to build further on that. Schools in the area such as Kelvin Grove are very active here and if we can offer a more formalised academy program – for not only elite golfers but those just starting out in the game – in time they will become the members this club is built upon.”

The other category of membership Indooroopilly is targeting is men and women between the ages of 25-40. When Australian Golf Digest visited Indooroopilly in mid-November, we were joined for all 36 holes by Fox Sports presenter and former Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Reds representative Ben Ikin, himself a former Indooroopilly member who stepped away as family demands took priority. Indooroopilly is hoping to attract and keep people in this age group by offering a proportional joining fee which becomes cheaper depending on a member’s age.

Indooroopilly Golf Club

Plotting Your Own Course
If variety is indeed the spice of life, then golfers at Indooroopilly have a taste sensation of four separate nines capable of being configured into six different layouts.

Originally formed at nearby St Lucia, Indooroopilly moved to its current site in 1964, where the Long Pocket course was designed by prolific Sydney-based course architect Al Howard. In 1976, Bob Green was commissioned to add a second 18-hole routing and other changes that would allow each of the four nines to start and finish back at the clubhouse. This work was continued by Ross Watson, who was first engaged in 1983.

For a period, the club operated with the ‘Old Course’ and ‘New Course’ before they were changed to the West and East courses. Then in the late 1990s, the four nines were identified by colour; Red, Gold, Blue and Green. These four are now configured to play as the West Course (Red and Gold), East (Blue and Green), Presidents (Red and Blue), Captains (Gold and Green), River (Blue and Gold) and Long Pocket (Green and Red).

While the West Course is where those on the honour boards earn their dues and is ranked on our Top 100, the picturesque combination of Blue and Gold nines along the banks of the Brisbane River is the most popular configuration among members.

After a brief flirtation with the design team of Newton, Grant and Spencer in the mid 1990s, Watson was invited back into the fold after the turn of the century. In 2006, a major upgrade of the West Course commenced.

With a need to significantly increase water capacity on the property, a number of inter-connecting dams were built on the Red nine, which received a dramatic remodelling and is easily the most challenging nine of the quartet.

Indooroopilly Golf Club

Watson’s work also extended to the Gold nine, but only from the fifth to the ninth, with the first and second holes remaining largely untouched. The remnants of Newton, Grant and Spencer’s involvement is the par-5 third and par-3 fourth.

While the Blue and Gold nines are more generous off the tee and with smaller, simpler putting surfaces – particularly the Blue nine – standing on the first tee of the Red nine leaves you in no doubt that nothing short of your A-game will be required.

Placement off the tee is at more of a premium and distance certainly doesn’t hurt. The finish is something that would provide a thrilling finale to any championship.

The short, par-4 sixth features a devilish green that would make any player tremble, while the 372-metre, par-4 seventh features water right of the driving zone and a small lake that fronts the green. It is rated as the toughest hole on the West Course.

The par-3 eighth is a picturesque hole with nerve-fraying bunkers to the right of the green, while the closing hole is a par 5 measuring 478m. It snakes its way in and around two large water hazards and is capable of yielding anything between eagle and outright disaster.

“Those four holes are your finishing holes to be crowned the Australian Open champion. That was my dream anyway,”  Watson told Australian Golf Digest.

“On every one of the last four holes there is a lot that can happen; birdies, bogeys or double-bogeys, and that’s what you want in a tournament – shots with impact either way.”

Some of golf’s greatest names such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Locke and Gary Player have appeared in exhibition matches at Indooroopilly, while  won the 1955 Australian PGA Championship here. Bruce Devlin hoisted the 1963 Queensland Open trophy at ‘Indooroo’.

With almost unrivalled space and wonderful practice facilities, it is not hard to imagine that if Watson is ever able to complete the job he started almost 10 years ago, a tournament of national significance could again find its way to Indooroopilly.


Indooroopilly Golf Club
West Course: Par 72, 6,453
East Course: Par 72, 6,332
(07) 3721 2121