A GREAT WEEKEND – CENTRAL COAST
Every golfer loves a weekend away with their friends. Here, we reveal where to play, stay and eat during a golf getaway to the Central Coast, just north of Sydney.
Every golfer loves a weekend away with their friends. Here, Brendan James reveals where to play, stay and eat during a golf weekend on NSW’s Central Coast.
From Broken Bay at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River to south of Newcastle, the Central Coast includes a mix of bays and inlets, pristine beaches, lakes and lush hinterland.
The region is a very popular holiday destination with great beaches, heaps of family friendly activities and a wide range of accommodation choices to suit all budgets.
It is also a popular getaway spot for golfers too with plenty of courses to choose from. If you are looking for the highest ranked layouts in the region, you can fill three days of golf playing Magenta Shores, Shelly Beach and Kooindah Waters, which are all in close proximity to each other. It is a weekend I can thoroughly recommend.
First stop was the acclaimed Magenta Shores
Golf & Country Club, which is the only private course on the Central Coast. However, if you stay in the adjoining Pullman Magenta Shores Resort there are play and stay packages available and guests have access to tee times seven days a week.
After checking in it was straight to the 1st tee. Match ups and side bets were quickly negotiated and we were off … no better way to spend a Friday afternoon.
From the Pacific Ocean vistas of the front
SHELLY BEACH HAS IMPROVED MARKEDLY DURING THE PAST DECADE WITH THE COURSE NOW FULLY IRRIGATED.
nine to the sheltered dunes of the inward half, Magenta Shores is not only visually stunning, it is a premium test of your golfing skill.
The site is lumpy and exposed … perhaps a little manufactured in parts, which is to be expected as much of the terrain is man-made. More than 250,000 cubic metres of sand was trucked in to raise the land, covered by holes 1 to 8, above what was formerly a sand mine and rubbish tip.
Ross Watson’s design is superb. The rolling fairways and ever-present sea breezes make for perennial diculty even at times when the wind is at your back.
His creation loops several times, constantly changing the direction of play throughout the round and examining the di erent skills of each player. The one stretch of holes running in the same direction o ers you some respite, especially in a southerly breeze. The short par-4 5th, potentially driveable par-4 6th and short par-5 8th all play downwind in a southerly and invite golfers into lusty hitting.
It was here that I had my first win of the weekend; capitalising on three scrubby shots onto the green before rolling in a 25-footer for birdie and collecting a dozen skins, which would go some way to paying for dinner that night.
While 16 holes at Magenta Shores are distinctly links style, the two holes that border the Wyrrabalong National Park on the northern boundary feature more trees and have a slightly di erent character about them. The 326-metre 13th is a wonderful short par-4 that requires a straight tee shot and a quality pitch. It’s easier said than done though as the fairway is quite narrow and poor positioning of the tee shot can leave a dicult downhill lie approach with a short iron. A massive scheme of bunkering can be found all along the right edge of the green.
A precise tee shot is also needed on the next hole – the 381-metre par4 14th, which is rated the most dicult at Magenta. The toughest element of this hole is the drive. Left of the fairway traps on the left is not the play, while the fairway runs out on the right around the 240-metre mark, where the hole begins to sweep left towards the large green. With a sti breeze blowing from the southeast, all four in the group struggled to find the fairway here and a pair of double bogey sixes halved the hole. The golf was fun, but not of a consistently high standard.
With the halved 14th hole behind us it was on to arguably Magenta Shores’ most memorable o ering – the 124-metre par-3 15th. This is a terrific one-shotter with a relatively small green – in comparison with others at Magenta Shores – and is well exposed to the wind, bringing deep bunkers and thick rough into consideration. No wonder it’s one of Watson’s favourites.
For mine, the mark of a good hole is the questions it asks as you stand on the tee. There’s nothing worse than the design and set-up of a hole dictating what club and shot you need to hit. Testament to the quality of the 15th was how all four in our group approached the tee shot. Each had a di erent club, ranging from 6-iron through to pitching wedge, and each had a di erent plan of attack into a breeze that was gusting up to about 25km an hour. The result: four pars. The sun was just nearing the horizon was we putted out on 18 and thoughts were quickly turning to food. In the name of satisfying hunger pangs, it was decided to “do the accounts” over dinner in the resort restaurant.
Barretts Restaurant didn’t disappoint. After
my win on the 8th and a few loose dollars grabbed on the back nine, I treated myself to some oysters Kilpatrick and the beef tenderloin, which were both delicious. There was even a little room left to tuck into a cheese plate, as the round post-mortems continued.
The opening round post-mortems continued well into the wee hours, which was fine as our Saturday tee time at Shelly Beach Golf Club was not until after 1pm
After a big sleep in, we ventured into The Entrance with a few of the lads craving a fried food pick me up. We found the Big Tuna Fish Co. fish and chippery on the main drag and invested heavily in their fine cuisine, which was devoured in double time as we sat in Memorial Park overlooking the inlet to Tuggerah Lake.
Hangovers fed, it was o to make our tee time. Shelly Beach is an easy-walking, 6,007 metres from the tips, which was welcomed by my playing partners.
The three most memorable holes also o er the best ocean views. The 366-metre par-4 5th is a devil of a hole where a blind drive needs to be followed up with a precise mid- or short iron to the green, depending on the strength and direction of the breeze.
The following hole measures just 337 metres from the tips but this oceanside o ering is still rated No.7 on the stroke index for a reason. It is a tight driving hole, especially into the wind, and club selection for the approach is always tough in the windy conditions that often prevail
The par-4 16th is one of the best, or most interesting, of the homeward bound holes. It is a short-par 4, at 315 metres, of substance where your drive needs to be positioned for the best angle to approach a flag cut anywhere on the diagonally laying green, which has been cut out of a steep sand dune. Where the 5th and 6th holes might play into the wind, the 16th hole will play downwind but it won’t make this short o ering any easier.
Shelly Beach has improved markedly during the past decade with the course now fully irrigated and some changes to the original Al Howard design. While it is not as challenging as Magenta Shores up the road, it is a whole lot of fun, especially when the wind blows.
As the non-drinker in our foursome, I pocketed all the cash bar one lone skin on day two so dinner was on me. While eating our fish and chips earlier, I spotted a Thai restaurant – Bang Rak Thai – on The Entrance Rd, which proved to be a great find. The Pad Kapow chicken was the best I have eaten anywhere.
It was no surprise that the drinkers wanted to get their head on the pillow early as our day three tee time at Kooindah Waters meant an early start. It didn’t, however, pan out that way as a few hours of poker back at the resort rolled on into the wee hours.
After a slow start we still managed to source some quality bacon and egg rolls and co ee and comfortably make the 30-minute drive to
Kooindah Waters for our 8 o’clock tee time. Another Ross Watson creation, this time in collaboration with Craig Parry, Kooindah Waters is short, tight and rustic, with its unkempt swamps and orange-hued bunkers with railway-sleeper faces. Parry’s contributions came with the club golfer in mind, mostly suggestions to widen some fairways and o er alternative options to the hero shot. Watson concurred and the result was a layout that, while tight and trouble-strewn, still o ers multiple opportunities to take on ambitious carries and daring lines.
Kooindah Waters, like Magenta Shores, is a fine example of how an ordinary site can evolve into something beautiful.
Precision is of the utmost importance on the 6,083-metre layout, as is certainty over club selection. Several approach shots require water carries with little leeway o ered as a bail-out. In many instances the looming water is obvious, as you will see on the all-carry par-3 2nd and 17th holes, but on other occasions the trouble is more subtle, with a hidden bunker or other hazard lurking partially out of view.
The obvious trouble didn’t seem to worry the long marker of our group, Jacko, who almost holed his tee shot with a 6-iron at the 149-metre 2nd. At no stage did his shot fly over the wetlands, instead he aimed well left and sliced his shot onto the putting surface. Sadly (well not really), he couldn’t convert the three-footer for his first birdie of the trip. He didn’t have to wait long though.
On the par-5 8th, we all carefully negotiated our way down the fairway with the exception of Jacko, who cut his drive into the fairway bunkers down the right, chipped out and then laid up short of the hazard that isolates the green from the fairway. Surely he was out of the hole … not so. He pitched in from 50 metres and scampered to the next tee with our cash in his pocket.
It was to be Jacko’s day. Three more birdies,
KOOINDAH WATERS, LIKE MAGENTA SHORES, IS A FINE EXAMPLE OF HOW AN ORDINARY SITE CAN EVOLVE INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.
two from chip-ins, made it hard for the rest of us to overhaul the 16-marker.
His best (and most lucrative) birdie came at the 298-metre 14th. With a swamp left of the driving zone and an array of fairway bunkers scattered left and right, there is more room nearer the green and it arguably makes more sense to bust a tee shot as close to the flag as possible. Just be sure to avoid the wicked little pot short and right of the shallow green. Jacko dumped his wedge approach into the pot bunker, but it didn’t matter. He still grabbed all the skins on oer when his bunker shot bounced once, hit the base of the flag and stayed in the hole.
Jacko finished the day with 43 points and all the money. Thankfully I wasn’t driving home with him.
The panoramic views on most holes at Shelly Beach add to the pleasure of a round here.
The superb short par-3 15th hole at Magenta Shores can be played so many ways.
Kooindah Waters’ challenging but pretty opening hole sets the scene for the rest of the round.
Water and sand play prominent roles in protecting par at Kooindah Waters.