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.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BREN­DAN JAMES

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.

DAY 1

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.

DAY 2

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.

DAY 3

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

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