CITY LIGHTS: BRISBANE
The capital of Australia’s Sunshine State is blessed with warm subtropical weather all year round, making it an ideal destination for golfers seeking a shirt and shorts round at any time. Here, we showcase the Top-12 Courses you will find within a 45-minu
The Sunshine State capital is an ideal destination for golfers seeking a shirt and shorts round at any time. Here, we showcase the Top-12 courses in the city.
1. ROYAL QUEENSLAND GOLF CLUB
Royal Queensland will celebrate its centenary next year and many would argue the layout is currently the best it has ever been during the past 100 years.
Six years after the first shots were struck, legendary designer Dr Alistair MacKenzie visited the course and o ered advice on some of the holes and the layout in general crafted by Carnegie Clark.
“The ground is excellently adapted for the construction of a golf course which might even compare favourably with some of the British Championship courses. The part of the ground for which the main course has been chosen is full of very fine golfing features. Although the ground at first sight appears flat, yet it is full of minor undulations of a somewhat similar character to famous seaside courses like St Andrews,” MacKenzie said of the course beside the Brisbane River.
However, the course was forced into
change several times over the years with the construction of the two Gateway Bridges across the eastern end of the property.
The last major redesign – by Mike Clayton – was completed in 2007, two years after the State Government decided to build the second bridge, which claimed seven holes from the course.
The key to the redesign was to incorporate width into the fairways, have less rough and more short grass, which ultimately provides players – of all standards – a greater strategic golfing experience by oering more shot options into the vast greenscapes. GREEN FEE: $230. Visitors must provide written proof of a golf club membership and current official handicap.
2. BROOKWATER GOLF CLUB
When Brookwater opened to much fanfare in 2002 many were quick to draw comparisons with the home of the US Masters, Augusta National.
The varied terrain, creative bunkering and undulating putting surfaces bare a slight resemblance to parts of Augusta. The fact that Greg Norman and his then design chief Bob Harrison were responsible for creating the layout added further weight to the theory that Augusta inspired this layout in Brisbane’s south western suburbs.
But the truth is this par-72 is an original and there is an overwhelming Australian feel about the course with tall Eucalypts, tall wild grasses and the occasional kangaroo bounding across a fairway. The Norman and Harrison design is one of Australia’s most spectacular inland courses and is entrenched in the top half of the nation’s Top-100 Courses ranking.
Brookwater impresses from the opening tee shot. From the championship black markers, the 1st hole is a 380-metre par-4 where your drive must cross a deep valley to find the fairway rising up the other side. A drive of about 220 metres will have you standing on the crest of the hill, with the fairway veering and cambering left past spectacular fairway bunkering and descending towards the green, nestled between two bunkers and tall timbers.
The layout has dramatically improved in recent times after an extensive renovation that saw changes to its greens, upgrades to bunkers and the cutting back of some penal areas of
rough to make the course more playable for the masses. As a result, the course has been restored to the playability intended by the original design, which makes it a must play layout when heading to Brisbane. GREEN FEE: $100 (18 holes, Monday to Thursday); $120 (Friday to Sunday).
3. THE BRISBANE GOLF CLUB
Brisbane’s oldest club dates back to 1896 with the first complete 18-hole course, designed by Carnegie Clark, coming into play in 1904.
Two decades later, Dr Alister MacKenzie was invited to advise on what changes he might make to the course. He prepared a report which polarised the committee at the time and only some of his recommendations, mainly the addition of bunkers, were put into play.
Acclaimed designer Ross Watson was commissioned to come up with a masterplan for the layout in 2007 and several holes were upgraded as part of the multi-year plan. The biggest improvement to the layout came a few years ago with the conversion of all Brisbane’s greens to Champion Ultra Dwarf grass. After considerable testing by the club, the grass replaced its Bermuda 328 putting surfaces and now the greens are some of the best to be found in the Sunshine State. GREEN FEE: $150 (visitors from interstate, who can apply for a tee time through the general manager); $60 (member’s guest, plus fee if playing in a competition).
4. INDOOROOPILLY GOLF CLUB (West course)
Indooroopilly was the hardest hit golf club in the devastating Brisbane floods of 2011.
But, from that adversity, the club and its 36-hole complex emerged and has since improved significantly to have one of its six 18-hole combinations – the West Course – achieve an Australian Top-100 Course ranking in 2014, ‘16 and ’18.
Having been established at nearby St Lucia in 1926, the club added a course at Long Pocket in 1964 and within two decades it had developed 36 holes on the peninsula with Ross Watson redesigning the older holes, which were renamed the West Course and incorporate the Gold and Red nines.
In recent times, all the greens surrounds were converted to zoysia grass, which thrives in warmer climates, and now forms a barrier between the couch fairways and Bermuda greens.
Sand plays a dominant role on the West course outward half, or Gold nine, with expansive bunkering complexes on the par-5 3rd, par-4 6th and par-5 7th holes being the most visually intimidating across the entire Indooroopilly landscape. GREEN FEE: $75 (Monday to Thursday); $95 (Friday and Sunday).
5. NORTH LAKES GOLF RESORT CLUB
When North Lakes opened in 2002 it presented several firsts for the Queensland capital. It was the first Graham Marsh design for Brisbane and the first course in Australia to use the fine-leaf Bermuda Tifeagle grass for its putting surfaces.
These two factors alone suggest North Lakes is a quality layout. North Lakes is a challenging layout boasting a great variety of holes that ranks highly among Marsh’s large portfolio of Australian course designs.
At North Lakes, Marsh produced two courses in one – with each hole o ering two distinct playing alternatives. The aggressive player capable of hitting prodigious drives can score well if they follow a certain line on the par-4s and par-5s. An aggressive line can result in small downslopes or humps being found and drives bounding on for an extra 30- or 40-metres. All of a sudden a short iron instead of a mid-iron is required to reach a green. But stray from this narrow line and trouble lurks. On the other hand, the conservative strategist and shorter hitters will also enjoy North Lakes’ relatively safe lines. Playing away from trouble at North Lakes is not dicult. The fairways are reasonably wide, the greens large and inviting while the rough is trimmed to a length that won’t have you driving home with a wrist in a cast. There are more than 90 bunkers scattered along the route. Many are large and clover-shaped but are not ominously deep. For the player not on his game these will intimidate but there is sucient room to weave your way past them on the fairway and, in most cases, fly over them to hit the putting surface. Water also plays a major role. Marsh was keen to keep the natural waterways that were present on the site and enhance them to become a feature of the golf course, which is ranked in the Top-100 Public Access Courses in the nation.
But, sadly, opportunities to play this layout are running out with reports emerging (at the time of going to press) of the impending sale and closure of the course in 2019. GREEN FEE: $99 (18 holes, seven days); $49.50 (member guest, weekdays); $65 (member guest, weekends).
6. INDOOROOPILLY GOLF CLUB (Presidents course)
Indooroopilly’s Presidents course features holes from the Red and Blue nines and, according to Golf Australia’s Top-100 Course ranking judges, is the second best layout at the club.
The Red nine – the front nine of the Presidents course – features water on several holes, but it is the change of elevation that makes this part of the course arguably the most interesting across the property.
The 6th hole demands a well-struck drive across the edge of a gully to find the fairway, which lies diagonally o to the right. The drive at the 7th, which is Index 1 on the West course, must also be straight to avoid the lake on the right. A water carry with your long second shot is also required to find the green beyond another lake, this one bordering the front and left edge of the green.
While the holes are generally shorter on the Blue nine, the changing elevation and natural twists in the terrain, combined with the narrower,
tree-lined fairways, gives rise to some strong par4s, like the 405-metre 6th hole.
GREEN FEE: $75 (Monday to Thursday); $95 (Friday and Sunday).
7. KEPERRA COUNTRY GOLF CLUB (Old course)
Keperra’s Old course dates back to the origins of the club in 1931 and today is a demanding test.
So highly regarded is the layout that its annual Keperra Bowl (to be played next month) is a R&A world amateur ranking event and has previously hosted the likes of Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Marc Leishman, who four years after claiming the prized trophy was named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
While Keperra boasts 27 holes, it is the Old course (1 to 18) that is regarded as the best of the three course combinations.
Mature tree-lined fairways are punctuated by bunkers and natural water hazards, while the condition of the layout has always been highly regarded and is expected to get even better after the completion a few months ago of a new irrigation dam.
The 460-metre par-5 1st hole oers a memorable start to the round, where there can be as many birdies as bogies. A generously wide fairway turns right and plunges downhill, just in the driving zone for long hitters, before hitting the flat next to a small pond to the right. The ideal layup here is about 80 metres out from the green to leave a straightforward pitch to a large welcoming green.
GREEN FEE: $39 (18 holes, Monday to Friday); $27 (Saturday, nine holes after 3pm); $45 (18 holes Sunday).
8. PACIFIC GOLF CLUB
Nestled in the hills about 15 minutes’ drive south east of the city, Pacific Golf Club is a highly regarded layout and has previously been ranked in Australia’s Top-50 Public Access courses.
The undulating nature of the landscape has given rise to some very good holes and a challenge that has been tested in three Queensland Opens and annually by the state’s best up-and-coming golfers in the Gary Player Junior Classic.
The Bulimba Creek and its tributaries meander through the course providing a challenging feature amongst the tree-lined fairways and receptive greens, which are regarded among the best presented in Brisbane.
GREEN FEE: $25 (18 holes Tuesday and Thursday); $35 (Monday and Friday); $45 (Sunday).
9. GAILES GOLF CLUB
One of the great trivia questions about Australian golf is to name the Brisbane course that hosted the 1955 Australian Open? It might take a while to get the answer – Gailes Golf Club.
The club agreed to host the Open when flooding elsewhere meant the event had to move to a better-draining course. Gailes was the choice and the great South African Bobby Locke went on to win that championship.
More than 60 years on from that championship, Gailes remains widely regarded as one of the best wet weather courses in Brisbane, while the wintergreen fairways have a reputation as being some of the best in the capital.
Much has changed at Gailes over the decades. During the 1940s, for example, there were 184 bunkers scattered across the layout. Many of these have been filled in over time and there are 69 bunkers to contend with these days.
Gailes’ rolling landscape gives rise to some very good holes, where strategy and shot placement are the keys to good scoring, with the 482metre par5 1st hole setting the scene for the remainder of the round.
GREEN FEE: $35 (18 holes, midweek); $42 (Monday and Friday); $45 (Sunday).
10. REDCLIFFE GOLF CLUB
According to several of this magazine’s Top100 Courses judges, the picturesque par71 Redclie course is one of the most improved layouts in Brisbane during the past few years.
Located at Clontarf, about 35 minutes’ drive north of Brisbane, Redclie combines the characteristics of a sand belt coastal strip with the river estuary outlook across Hayes Inlet. Its close proximity to the ocean and river inlet ensures there is always some kind of breeze to speak of.
The course was opened for play in 1935, having
been designed by Stan Francis – a very good amateur golfer, who played out of The Brisbane Golf Club.
But much of the improvement enthused about by our judges can be attributed to having greater access to recycled water as well as the work done as part of a masterplan the club commissioned course architect Richard Chamberlain to put together in 2011. While the routing remained, much of the redesign focused on updating bunkering and increasing the teetogreen strategy required to score well.
When the prevailing southeasterly wind gathers strength, the closing trio of holes really gain some bite. Arguably the best of them is the 506metre par5 16th hole, which plays along the edge of Hayes Inlet to the right and is a genuine threeshotter. The fairway turns slightly right and encourages a playing line down the right half all the way to the green, with the second shot layup being complicated by a clump of trees in the left half of the fairway. A sandy wasteland also cuts in from the left for the final approach into the slightly elevated putting surface. A par here is wellearned.
GREEN FEE: $37 (18 holes, weekdays); $42 (weekends).
11. WYNNUM GOLF CLUB
Located in Brisbane’s bayside suburbs, Wynnum Golf Club gives the initial impression not much has changed since the club was established in 1922. The charming Federationstyle clubhouse has a welcoming Queensland feel about it and the course is laid out in two loops in and away from this hub.
Obviously things have changed there over the years and the course has moved with the times and remains an enjoyable and exacting test for players of all standards. No two holes are the same and the variety of left and right dogleg holes adds to its appeal.
For the majority of golfers, the 412metre dogleg left par4 4th hole is suitably indexed the hardest hole on the course. If it’s not the hardest hole it certainly presents the most dicult tee shot. Dense stands of tall gums and pines line the inside of the dogleg and, despite the generous width of the fairway, outofbounds can be found beyond the trees right of the short grass. With the drive successfully negotiated, the key is then getting the
club selection correct to conquer this tough test.
While the variety of the holes will impress, the memorable aspect of Wynnum is its beauty – with well-presented playing surfaces and a layout that is easy to walk in picturesque surrounds.
GREEN FEE: $40 (18 holes, weekdays); $42 (weekends).
12. VIRGINIA GOLF CLUB (Championship course)
Virginia has gained a reputation as one of Brisbane’s most beautiful layouts, with its combination of rolling fairways, meandering creeks, undulating greens and 56 bunkers scattered throughout.
It’s hardly any coincidence that such good players have emerged from the Virginia ranks over the years. The challenging layout was the home club of Greg Norman and Wayne Grady during the 1970s, and the pair collected four club championships between them in six years during the early to mid-70s.
Most fairways are lined with mature trees, thickly in parts, while there are some lengthy holes that require a couple of spirited blows to reach the putting surface.
Some of the best holes at Virginia cover the terrain with the most elevation change, like the par-4 5th and 6th holes. Both these holes feature a rolling uneven fairway which comes into play from the tee and can influence the lie you have for a second shot approach.
GREEN FEE: $39 (18 holes, outside of competition times).
the brisbane golf club
indooroopilly west course
keperra old course
pacific golf club
indooroopilly presidents course
gailes golf club
redcliffe golf club
virginia championship course