Indooroopilly GOLF CLUB

The golf cour­ses of South East Queens­land are no stranger to rain and plenty of it all at once. Some, like Indooroopilly Golf Club, bounce back bet­ter than most.

Golf Australia - - COURSE REVIEW - WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY BREN­DAN JAMES

It’s early in the af­ter­noon and the Queens­land sun is warm­ing the back as I size up my ap­proach into the 1st green of Indooroopilly’s West course. I hit a crisp mid iron and the sound of club on ball echoed be­tween the trees.

This same idyl­lic sce­nario re­peated it­self (far too much for my lik­ing) through­out the round, which forced me to re­mind my­self sev­eral times that I was play­ing golf just 20 min­utes from the Bris­bane CBD. The seren­ity to be found at Indooroopilly Golf Club is amaz­ing given its lo­ca­tion on a sur oard fin-shaped penin­sula be­side the Bris­bane River.

While this po­si­tion cov­er­ing rolling ter­rain be­side the river o„ers great tran­quil­lity, it also makes all 36 holes at Indooroopilly vul­ner­a­ble to flood­ing.

Back in Jan­uary 2011, the Bris­bane River burst its banks cre­at­ing flood­wa­ter lev­els not seen since the record 1974 floods that in­un­dated the Queens­land cap­i­tal.

One of the un­for­get­table im­ages of that time was an ae­rial pho­to­graph show­ing the flood­wa­ters cov­er­ing most of the penin­sula (known as Long Pocket) oc­cu­pied by both cour­ses, which is bound on three sides by the river as it flows east to­ward the city. Of the 36 holes on the 130-hectare prop­erty, 22 holes were com­pletely in­un­dated by the flood­wa­ter

THE WEST COURSE IS A GEM AND WILL CON­TINUE TO IM­PROVE IN RANK­ING LISTS AS GIF­FARD WORKS THROUGH THE MASTER­PLAN.

and the tonnes of sand, silt and mud that came with it.

In the days af­ter, as the wa­ters re­ceded the full ex­tent of the dev­as­ta­tion be­came ap­par­ent. Al­most ev­ery tee and green was dam­aged to some de­gree. One fair­way, which runs along­side the river, was buried un­der more than a me­tre of sand and sludge.

Course su­per­in­ten­dent Char­lie Gi ard led an army of sta and vol­un­teers in a mas­sive clean-up that in­volved re­mov­ing lay­ers of mud and silt o the a ected greens, which were then washed and squeegeed clean. This helped save the greens from com­pletely dy­ing. It also went a long way to hav­ing all 36 holes opened for play within two months.

Today, there is not a shred of ev­i­dence of those dev­as­tat­ing floods and the West Course has gone on to achieve its high­est-ever rank­ings in Golf Aus­tralia’s Top-100 Cour­ses rank­ing in 2014 and 2016.

While the West Course re­ceives most of the plau­dits, Indooroopilly has the ad­van­tage of be­ing split into four coloured nines – Gold, Red, Blue and Green – al­low­ing the club to op­er­ate six 18-hole com­bi­na­tions. Of these, the West Course (Gold and Red) and the East Course (Blue and Green) are the most com­monly used, while the Pres­i­dent’s Course (Red and Blue) has be­come a favourite of this writer.

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 a 36-hole com­plex on the penin­sula with Ross Wat­son re­design­ing the older holes, which were re­named the West Course.

Wat­son con­tin­ues to work with the club on any de­sign changes, while Gi ard’s main­te­nance team have be­gun work on a master­plan of con­tin­ued im­prove­ment to all holes that in­cludes con­vert­ing all greens sur­rounds to zoysia grass. Zoysia thrives in warmer cli­mates and will form 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 rolling Indooroopilly land­scape.

Of this trio, I re­ally liked the 3rd hole. You step onto the tee here and you are stand­ing right on the banks of the Bris­bane River (dur­ing the flood, this tee was un­der nearly five me­tres of water). While the hole fol­lows the edge of the river, the fair­way veers slightly to the right, around a crop of bunkers left, be­fore dog­leg­ging slightly left to bring trees and more sand into play for the sec­ond

shot. Thank­fully, there is plenty of fair­way to be found right of the bunkers, which are within pitch­ing dis­tance of the front of the table-top shaped green.

The 311-me­tre par-4 9th is one of the holes that changed dra­mat­i­cally as part of Wat­son’s re­design in 2006 and oers a grand­stand fin­ish to the nine with a nar­row fair­way be­ing flanked by a lake to the left, while four bunkers pro­tect the deep, con­toured green that lies within an am­phithe­atre be­neath the gaz­ing eyes of those in the club­house.

Head­ing out on the in­ward nine, the Red nine, the test of your nerve and skill be­gins from the open­ing tee shot. The 513-me­tre par-5 can be reached in two shots by only the long­est hit­ters but they must be will­ing to thread their drive be­tween a lake to the right and trees to the left of a nar­row land­ing zone. The lake is still in play for all play­ers (it’s only 180 me­tres from the white tee) but the fair­way is much wider. Stay dry from the tee, main­tain a good line with your sec­ond down the left of the fair­way and you will have a straight-for­ward ap­proach to an el­e­vated green.

Water plays a sig­nif­i­cant role on the Red nine as does the chang­ing el­e­va­tion. The quar­tet of holes start­ing at the short par-4 6th is, for mine, the most in­ter­est­ing se­quence of holes at Indooroopilly. The 6th hole de­mands a well­struck 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.

The par-3 8th oers some respite from the water but it is back again at the 478-me­tre 9th where you must bomb a drive over a lake to the fair­way, again di­ag­o­nally placed to the flight of the your tee shot, be­fore tak­ing on more water with your fi­nal ap­proach to a semi-is­land green where there is water short, left and long of the putting sur­face. It is a treach­er­ous jour­ney from tee to green here but what a closer it is to the front nine.

The West Course is a gem and will con­tinue to im­prove in rank­ing lists as Giard works through the master­plan. That said, there is much to like about the va­ri­ety and qual­ity of the holes to be found on the East Course (Blue and Green nines), which fea­tures much less bunker­ing and water haz­ards than the West Course.

For mine, the Blue is the slightly bet­ter of the two halves and is prob­a­bly my sec­ond favourite nine at Indooroopilly be­hind the Red nine. 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 par-4s, like the 394-me­tre 6th hole.

The rolling ter­rain has been used well to cre­ate some ter­rific, un­der-rated, holes on the Green nine as well. The 324-me­tre par-4 3rd is just one of the gems. Ac­cu­racy from the tee is a pre­req­ui­site on this dog­leg left fair­way, which rolls over the crest of one hill be­fore climb­ing again to reach the green. The up­hill sec­ond shot here is quite de­cep­tive in terms of judg­ing the dis­tance and it is best to be un­der the hole for your first putt as this green slopes quite a bit to the front right.

If you find your­self in Bris­bane and in search of a game, try and get on to Indooroopilly. En­joy the seren­ity, the golf and be amazed at how well this club has bounced back from the de­spair of the floods just six years ago.

Ponds wind through the mid­dle of the Red nine and add to the beauty of the short par-4 6th.

You need plenty of nerve stand­ing over your ap­proach into the Gold nine 9th hole.

The par-3 5th hole on the Blue nine is wedged be­tween a creek and a tree-cov­ered hill. Ex­pan­sive fair­way bunker­ing is a real high­light of the Gold nine.

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