CLUB OF THE MONTH: SURFERS PAR­ADISE GOLF CLUB

GOLD COAST• QUEENS­LAND

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BREN­DAN JAMES

Bren­dan James re­dis­cov­ers a golf­ing sanc­tu­ary among the hus­tle and bus­tle and ever-ex­pand­ing jun­gle of con­crete and glass on the Gold Coast.

If you have ever been to the Gold Coast for a hol­i­day, golf­ing or not, and you have flown into Coolangatta Air­port you will be fa­mil­iar with the sight. As the plane banks left over the ocean and heads west for the fi­nal ap­proach, the long strip of beach and the seem­ingly end­less stand of high rise apart­ments that stretch north come into view to the right. It is an iconic view that is stereo­typ­i­cally Gold Coast.

On a re­cent visit, I re­dis­cov­ered a golf­ing sanc­tu­ary among the hus­tle and bus­tle and ever ex­pand­ing jun­gle of con­crete and glass. It had been nearly 10 years since I last played Surfers Par­adise Golf Club, de­spite hav­ing played the lay­out dozens of times as a

teenager on hol­i­days through­out the 1980s.

De­spite its name, the course is ac­tu­ally in Clear Is­land Waters, about five kilo­me­tres south of the bars and restau­rants of Surfers’ famed Cav­ill Av­enue. The Broad­beach to Nerang Rd bor­ders the course to the north and there is res­i­den­tial on two other bound­aries, but when you are deep into your round here you feel like you could be a thou­sand miles away

It was very diƒer­ent when the club was formed by a small group of keen golfers, ex-ser­vice­men and their friends in 1967. The club founders ac­tu­ally had their sights set on a par­cel of land closer to the heart of Surfers Par­adise, but prop­erty de­vel­oper Bruce Small, who be­came Gold Coast mayor in the same year, con­vinced the group to pur­chase 92 acres of his land at Cy­press Gar­dens and con­struc­tion on the lay­out be­gan just a few months later.

The lay­out was de­signed by then club cap­tain War­wick Thomas and English-born Ken Eglit, who was one of the driv­ing forces be­hind the for­ma­tion of the club. He was later named the club’s pa­tron and first life mem­ber. Sadly he passed away in Fe­bru­ary this year, aged 96. Eglit and Thomas’ work has been tweaked over the decades but over the course of 52 years his de­sign – laid out across less than 90 acres – has with­stood the test of time. It was cre­ated to be a mem­bers’ course, but it didn’t stop the club host­ing the Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship within two years of o•cially open­ing in 1968. Bruce Devlin cap­tured the ti­tle in 1970 (mak­ing it back-to-back ti­tles), while Billy Dunk shot 15 un­der for four rounds to win the fol­low­ing year. For many years, the club also hosted one of the big­gest ju­nior events in Aus­tralia – the South Pa­cific Clas­sic – which boasted win­ners that ul­ti­mately moved into suc­cess­ful pro ca­reers in­clud­ing Wayne Grady (1976), Ossie Moore (1977), Corinne Dib­nah (1982), Ni­cole Lowien (1986) and Adam Scott (1996).

To­day, Surfers is an easy-walk­ing par-71, which mea­sures 5,841 me­tres from the tips so you don’t have to be long from the tee to get value for your good shots.

The fair­ways are a lit­tle more tree-lined than they were in Devlin and Dunk’s days, but gen­er­ally there is enough room from­tee-togreen to reg­u­larly pull the driver from the bag. How­ever, there are no short­age of fair­way bunkers and wa­ter haz­ards to be avoided. In

fact, wa­ter comes into play on 11 holes.

The first of three par-5s at Surfers Par­adise is also its long­est at 529 me­tres from the back mark­ers. It’s a tight driv­ing hole with a small trib­u­tary of the Nerang River run­ning the length of the hole to the right and then wrap­ping around the back of the green. The bunker­less fair­way snakes its way right, then left, to a wide putting sur­face with three bunkers – one left and two through the back of the green.

Wa­ter and sand also play a ma­jor role on one of Surfers’ best par-3s – the 147-me­tre 5th hole. A pond right of the tee only comes into play for those, like me, that are prone to the oc­ca­sional shank. But a pic­turesque lake to the left of the green is def­i­nitely in play for even the slight­est mis-hit. The green, which slopes markedly from back right to front left, is sur­rounded by four bunkers with a ‘coŠn’ shaped bunker wedged be­tween the putting sur­face and the lake be­ing the most diŠ cult to es­cape from.

Head­ing for home there is a gen­uine chance of adding a birdie to the score­card at the short par-4 17th. At 310 me­tres from the tips, it’s not a hole to be at­tacked with a driver un­less you can bank on a left-to-right shot shape to fol­low the dog­leg shape of the fair­way as it veers around a lake to the left. The key here is to get your drive in play and take aim with a short iron into a re­cep­tive green that lies just beyond the lake.

The lay­out is beau­ti­fully pre­sented by course su­per­in­ten­dent Dun­can La­mont and his team and – as it al­ways has been – is a fun course to play for a wide range of golfers of vary­ing abil­i­ties.

EGLIT AND THOMAS’ WORK HAS BEEN TWEAKED OVER THE DECADES BUT OVER THE COURSE OF 52 YEARS HIS DE­SIGN – LAID OUT ACROSS LESS THAN 90 ACRES – HAS WITH­STOOD THE TEST OF TIME.

Pic­turesque wa­ter haz­ards come into play on 11 of the 18 holes at Surfers Par­adise.

The short par-4 17th hole is a gen­uine birdie chance if you can stay out of the wa­ter.

The straight away par-4 1st hole calls for an ac­cu­rate ap­proach into the green.

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