South Australia golf trip - August 2018.
I f you are contemplating a golfing holiday but sick of travelling to airports etc then I recommend you journey by car to South Australia for golf in the Fleurieu Peninsula and around Adelaide.
We drove to Goolwa, inland via Horsham so as to have a look at Horsham Golf Club after the fires of a few years ago. The return home to Melbourne was more coastal so we could play Port Fairy as our overnight stay.
Horsham now has a new clubhouse and a major tree planting has taken place. In a few years it will look impressive and it remains one of the best country courses in Victoria. You will be sure of an enthusiastic welcome from G.M. and Director of Golf, Paul Riley, brother of former PGA member and now golf commentator Wayne Riley.
The Fleurieu Peninsula has a number of excellent courses and numerous scenic destinations and wineries. If your base is at Goolwa, a lovely seaside town at the mouth of the Murray, then a relaxing warm up round can be had at South Lakes which is almost in the centre of the town. Whilst it is flat and not very long, it is very well maintained and with excellent greens and is very inexpensive.
Sandwiched between Goolwa and Victor Harbor is the lovely little town of Port Elliot which features a beautiful little beach that is protected from the prevailing winds. And be sure to take the walk around Granite Island at Victor Harbor.
We did not play Victor Harbor golf course which is inland from the town. It is rather hilly, very scenic and has an impressive first hole with a large drop away from tee to green.
Further north west on the coast is Links Lady Bay which I had been keen to play for some time. It has some good holes, particularly the long par 4, 5th and the short par 4, 10th. But I have to be honest that I was somewhat disappointed with the general feel of the complex. It is more or less surrounded by houses built to help fund the development costs and it looked like they were struggling somewhat. I would certainly recommend a game there but I wouldn't rate it nearly as highly as our next stop - Mount Compass.
Although a little further inland on the way to Willunga, Mount Compass is built on sandy soil and plays like an inland links. This course, designed by Neil Crafter, was one of the highlights of the trip. What a beautiful and enjoyable course with just a few fellow golfers and kangaroos sharing the setting. I particularly liked the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th holes and all of the holes around the middle of the back 9.
Another course you might play in this area is McCracken Country Club at Victor Harbor.
On you way to Adelaide (on the Princes Hwy just past Mt Barker) it is worth stopping at the town of Hahndorf, originally settled by German migrants. I have always liked Adelaide with it's grid pattern streets and easy access to anywhere. North Adelaide features lovely Victorian houses and the whole city has a refreshing absence of graffiti. Whilst in Adelaide we golfed at Kooyonga, Glenelg and The Grange West Course. We also walked part of Royal Adelaide which looked absolutely superb. Next trip to Adelaide I will make sure of a tee time there.
Everything about Kooyonga is delightful - the food, the ambience and the quality of the course. Every hole is good but I particularly liked the par 3,11th and short par 4, 12th. Most of the greens are elevated so if you can't hold the firm and fast greens then you will be bunkered or you will run down the steep banks. You need your 'A' game around these greens. The outside patio area is an excellent choice for your lunch whilst watching the golfers trying to hold the 18th green with their second shot.
Glenelg was also in excellent condition and I particularly liked the 2nd, 3rd and 8th holes. Glenelg is not long but they have made up for this by having some large expanses of bunkering which on some holes made it difficult to know what club to use from the tee. Some of the holes on the back 9 were a little hillier with attractive stands of pine trees.
The West Course at The Grange was also very well maintained and the greens were first class. Most of the fairways were reasonably wide but the slight negative was the feeling of sameness on some of the holes. Neverthelss, an excellent and enjoyable course to play.
It had been nearly 13 years since I last played Port Fairy so I was keen to see some of the changes that have been made. The day we left Adelaide it was 25 degrees. Next day our early tee time was in rain, sleet and just 4 degrees with a wind off the ocean.
To be brutally honest, Port Fairy is a little over-rated - now that is bound to upset a few people. There are some fabulous linksy holes, particularly on the back 9 from holes 12 to 16. However the downland holes at the beginning and end of the round were wet and boggy and have farmland type grass that is not enjoyable from a golfing perspective. The last 2 holes were full of shiny black mud balls that made it very difficult if your ball ventured there. I was informed that the water table is so high this was caused by yabbies' coming up and leaving these large impediments all across the fairways - that's a first for me. The tees are all very small and consequently are in poor condition. But, considering the terrible weather , the greens were excellent - much better than when I last played 13 years earlier. I would never pass up a game at Port Fairy but I just don't think half a dozen really good holes is enough to justify all the accolades it gets.
Lovely scenery, good food, excellent golf courses and easy driving - I highly recommend you make the trip.
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