South Australia’s ornament to the national golf scene is Royal Adelaide Golf Course, a beautiful and challenging excursion between the sandy craters and smatterings of pine trees. Several sets of fingerprints have touched the course over time, however once again the influence of Dr Alister MacKenzie cannot be overstated. Bestowed the ‘Royal’ title in 1923, Royal Adelaide is an exceptional course with numerous holes that tempt and tease.
Split in half by a suburban railway line that can cause a round to be interrupted briefly, the course oozes classic architecture throughout. MacKenzie’s best contribution survives to this day with the classic third hole. Short and bunkerless, this 266-metre par 4 is reachable from the tee by a good many golfers, yet should the ball stray from the ideal position it quickly turns into a potential nightmare. The late, great Norman von Nida once contrived to take a 9 on the third. The beauty lies in its simplicity. A tall, unkempt dune to the right of the angled green can disguise the dangers of the smaller but equally sinister grassy ridge flanking the left side of the target. Quite simply, it is one of the great holes in Australian golf.
The remainder of the course ebbs and flows across the sandy land. Small and uncomplicated green sites blend with holes where the target is defended by an array of bunkers and other natural pitfalls. The amphitheatre setting of the 11th green is another high point and, after a period of flux and much wringing of hands, the new-look 17th is a fitting reflection of the 17 other far older holes.
Royal Adelaide harks back to the best elements of golf in its formative years in this country. That its magnetic timelessness continues to last is testament to its brilliance.
Royal Adelaide Golf Club
Ranking in 2018: 9th
Prior rankings: 14th (2016), 12th (2014), 13th (2012), 9th (2010), 6th (2008), 5th (2006), 5th (2004), 5th (2002), 5th (2000), 7th (1998), 7th (1996), 9th (1994), 6th (1991), 5th (1989), First Ten (1986)
Where: Tapleys Hill Rd, Seaton SA 5023
Phone: (08) 8356 5511