A GREAT WEEKEND ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
Every golfer loves a long weekend away with their friends. Here, we reveal where to play, stay and eat during a getaway to one of Queensland’s great golf destinations, the Sunshine Coast.
Every golfer loves a long weekend away with their friends. Here, Brendan James reveals where to play, stay and eat during a getaway to the Sunshine Coast.
Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is world-renowned for its incredible coastline, aquatic activities, great seafood and, increasingly, the quality of its golf courses.
In fact, the most difficult thing about a golf getaway to the region comes in the planning. Golfers are spoiled for choice and trying to narrow down where to play three rounds over a weekend from a selection of 20 courses spread between Bribie Island and Noosa Heads is tough.
As our foursome was flying into the Sunshine Coast Airport, just north of Maroochydore, we decided to play the three courses closest to the airport – Maroochy River, Twin Waters and Mt Coolum Golf Clubs. It would prove to be a wise choice.
A 90-minute delay taking off in Sydney had us concerned about making our early afternoon tee time but, thankfully, we were playing Maroochy River Golf Club.
With baggage and hire car collected, we were in the club car park less than 10 minutes later and with enough time to spare to hit some practice putts.
Maroochy River is the newest course to be added to the Sunshine Coast portfolio of courses, having opened on its current site in 2015. Formerly known as Horton Park Golf Club, the club was forced to move away from the centre of nearby Maroochydore with redevelopment plans of the predominantly commercial area.
With the council paying $42 million for the land, the club went in search of land to build a new course and finally settled on 102-hectare site of former flood-prone canefields at Bli Bli, about seven kilometres north west of the original course.
Graham Marsh was then commissioned to design the new layout, and given the flat, low-lying nature of the property the land was
raised considerably, leaving Marsh plenty of scope to massage the topography into a gently rolling landscape.
The result is a course that o ers wide fairways, big greens and four tees on each hole, which makes it playable and challenging for players of all standards.
It is quite the second shot golf course. The wide fairways are receptive to the drives of the high handicapper, while the low marker can skirt bunkers or water hazards in search of shorter, more straightforward lines into the pin.
The par-4 10th, our first hole, is a fine example. From the tips, the slight dogleg-right hole stretches to 390 metres but the shortest route to the green is to take on the first of three bunkers near the right edge of the fairway. Big hitters can carry the first bunker but they can get a bounce into one of the two smaller traps beyond. The safe playing line wide of the sand leaves a longer shot and also brings a harder approach where a bunker short left of the green is more in play.
Having decided to play fourball split sixes, we were all glad it was fourball scoring after notching up 25 shots between us to open the round.
The bunkering is a real feature of the journey, with a wide variety of shapes and sizes scattered right across the course.
The only hole devoid of bunkers is the 399-metre 18th, which ranks as the hardest hole at Maroochy River courtesy of its length and the only forced water carry during the round. Joey, the only player in our group with two shots on the hole, was licking his lips at the chance to pocket some cash.
With water all down the left side of the hole, few players will be tempted to drive into the left half of the fairway. Shorter hitters will need to lay up short of the water hazard, cutting the fairway o from the green that lies beyond. Joey did just that, before chunking two wedges into the water.
Water can be found on 14 of the 18 holes, but it really only comes into play on half of those holes, which Joey was thankful for … although he did snap hook a 3-wood into the water left of the 7th fairway, which proved pivotal to the match.
The playing surfaces at Maroochy River have matured beautifully during the past three years and, in particular, the Bermuda TifEagle greens are very good. Marsh’s green contouring and variety of shapes have been complemented by the smooth rolling surfaces and are a lot of fun to putt on. I particularly enjoyed the contouring of the par-3 8th green, where we faced a back left pin position but a skinny 4-iron managed to skip up onto the green and take the right-to-left slope to leave a 12-footer for birdie and the cash for my partner and I. The putt lipped in nicely on the right side.
With the sun almost on the horizon, we putted out on the 9th and the area around the club was buzzing with people on the putting green and hundreds of balls being hit on the driving range. Not to mention the car park was pretty full, which suggests the move out of town has been a success.
As you might imagine, there are plenty of accommodation options available in this tourism rich region. Our choice was the Magnolia Lane apartments, which overlooks the Twin Waters course.
An early afternoon tee time behind the Saturday competition at Mt Coolum Golf Club left the morning free to have a swim and soak in some of the Sunshine Coast heat. Two of the lads even ventured down to the Twin Waters clubhouse, hit some balls on the range and had a few putts in preparation for the round to come.
Mt Coolum was just 15 minutes’ drive north of our base, laid out at the base of the impressive monolith of the same name.
With nationally ranked public access courses – like Twin Waters, Palmer Coolum and Pelican Waters – close by, those that seek out Mt Coolum won’t be disappointed.
Mt Coolum started as a nine-holer in the mid-70s; with a further nine holes added and opened for play in 1992. With the course being built in two stages, there is a distinct mix of tight tree-lined fairways and wider more generous driving zones. There is also an interesting blend of small subtle sloping greens and larger undulating greens, which makes each hole di erent from the previous one and adds to the interest during the round.
After much lobbying from the pair who spent two hours hitting practice balls in the morning, a decision was made on the 1st tee to make our
round every man for himself Skins. It would prove to be a costly mistake on my behalf.
The best holes cover the southern half of the course. These include the challenging trio of holes including the 523-metre par-5 4th, 194-metre par-3 5th and the 531-metre par-5 6th, which cut through and loop around wetlands and are heavily lined by melaleucas. These are not only demanding holes for all players, they lie in a beautiful setting where plenty of birdlife abounds. While Joey lost balls and cash the day before, he scooted through this trio of holes in even par and collected four points on each of the par-5s and a three-pointer on the par-3. He made the turn with 24 points and 11 of them came in just three holes.
He didn’t let up on the par-5s of the back nine either. Mt Coolum boasts six par-5s – including four on the back nine – with the most memorable being the 426-metre 17th, which doglegs left around a scheme of bunkers before turning back to the right around the edge of a lake. However, a big drive down the right of the fairway can leave you in position to hit your second shot over the lake to the green. Our man Joey did just that – belting a drive out of his skin and hitting an even better 3-wood that bounced between two bunkers and finished 20-foot away from the cup. He missed the eagle but tapped in for birdie and collected a mountain of dollars.
We had been taken to the cleaners. Joey’s 45 points for the round were enough to collect every cent with the exception of $1 on the 1st hole.
With pockets bulging, our victor offered to take us to dinner and we stopped at the Simon King Chinese restaurant at Mudjimba on our way back to the apartments. We feasted at Joey’s expense, and I can thoroughly recommend the roast pork belly and the satay prawns.
With our flight home to Sydney due to leave mid afternoon, we had an early morning tee time booked at Twin Waters. It proved to be a Godsend as the temperature creeped towards 30° by mid-morning.
With its spacious fairways, big putting surfaces and beautiful setting, Twin Waters has been a fixture of Sunshine Coast golf ever since the Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge design opened for play in 1991.
The home of the Holden Scramble national
The playing surfaces at maroochy river have matured beautifully during the past three years and, in particular, the bermuda tifeagle greens are very good.
MAROOCHY RIVER GOLF CLUB
MT COOLUM GOLF CLUB
MT COOLUM GOLF CLUB