Unforgiving but beautiful
Even if you can’t avoid the trees at this alluring course, the stunning scenery makes up for it, writes Ian Mcphedran
TREES are both Bonville Golf Resort’s most beautiful and most sinister feature, swallowing wayward golf balls with yawning regularity.
This is not a course for sprayers, or the faint-hearted. Straight hitting is the key, but don’t fret as the pro shop has a vast supply of well-priced golf balls for sale.
Even before setting foot on the first tee on Saturday afternoon with a group of long-hitting members – Grant, Andy and Matt – we are immersed in the Bonville culture.
As Grant and Andy regularly blasted their tee shots 250m to 300m down the fairway, this first-time visitor – and the group’s highest handicapper – simply marvelled at the raw beauty of the course and the mountains that frame it.
Later, when sitting at dinner as day merges into softly lit night and the towering flooded gum trees that line the 18th fairway next to the clubhouse appear to grow even taller and straighter, the magnificent golf course dominates the scene.
Enjoying a gourmet meal from the one-hat team led by executive chef LeeO’Carroll, as a gentle breeze wafts across the outdoor area and the chirping of parrots is replaced by hooting owls and croaking frogs, is almost a spiritual experience, regardless of how badly the golf went.
Bonville is 21 years old and some of the decor is showing its age, but golf is what Bonville – 10 minutes south of Coffs Harbour in NSW – is all about, and the Terry Watson-designed masterpiece is regularly rated as Australia’s best resort course.
Every superbly groomed hole presents a new challenge in a sub- tropical environment where the contours of the land have been used to perfection, and where placement is as important as distance.
General manager and former pro golfer Brad Daymond says the original Japanese developers wanted to create a southern hemisphere replica of Augusta National, the home of the US Masters. They couldn’t achieve it in the Australian coastal location, but what they did create is unique – and an epic challenge for every standard of golfer in an environment where native trees and plants are complemented by azaleas and camellias.
A Coffs boy, Daymond is a keen advocate for Bonville and its sister destination, Jonah’s at Whale Beach in Sydney, and he strongly promotes the team culture that combines the golf with the food and the hospitality.
Day two’s round with veterans Jim, Les and Bob was a more sedate affair but no less challenging.
The golf course is world-class, the accommodation is comfortable and clean and the landscaping is beautiful. A strict ‘‘ no party’’ policy means that everyone gets a good night’s rest. The writer was a guest of Bonville Golf Resort.
SHOOT STRAIGHT: There are plenty of trees around the par-5 fourth hole at Bonville.