Long Reef Golf Club

Long Reef, par-four 3rd – ‘has ruined many a promising start’, Brendan James

Occupying the Long Reef headland on Sydney’s northern beaches – ‘one of the best sites of any golf course in Sydney’, according to five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson – this par-71 links course offers 180-degree ocean views from every hole. From the highest vantage points, the view extends north to Palm Beach and south to Manly.

Long Reef began as a nine-hole course laid out across the top of the headland. It grew to 18 holes in 1927, with Dan Soutar – the man behind the acclaimed course designs at Kingston Heath, Concord and nearby Elanora – overseeing the creation of the links layout. The course altered significantly again after World War II, then remained virtually unchanged until the mid-’90s. Pot bunkers and creative mounding, overseen by Thomson, were added to several holes, toughening the layout and improving the overall golfing experience at Long Reef. Today it is a true links layout. What it lacks in length is more than made up for by the wind that whips constantly across the course, at varying strengths, every day. The prevailing wind hails from the south and is right in your face as you stand on the tee at the 1st hole, a 477-metre par-five. It is the trickiest tee shot of the round. Out-of-bounds markers are only metres from the right edge of the fairway, which is cut in two by a zigzagging creek located about halfway to the green and within range of longer hitters. Once you have crossed the water, the fairway climbs gradually to a sloping green. One hole that has stayed the same for many years is the 315-metre, par-four 3rd. It is a classic sharp dogleg-left that tempts big hitters to go for the putting surface with their drive. This diminutive hole has ruined a promising start to many a round, with scrubby bushes to the left and deep rough to the right catching mis-hit tee shots. The ideal play is a long iron or fairway metal struck towards the target marker, leaving a short iron into the two-tiered green, which is protected by a deep bunker cut into its front edge.

While the entire course is exposed to the elements, it is the highest reaches across the top of the headland that are most affected. And no hole is windier than the138-metre 13th. The 13th might be the shortest of Long Reef’s par-threes but choosing which club to hit from the tee is no simple matter. It is not uncommon for players to use a driver when a big southerly buster is howling up the coast. In such conditions, the key is to keep your ball on the golf course – for rising metres away from the left of the green is a sheer cliff above the ocean.

The toughest hole is the 400-metre, par-four 17th, where the wind usually blows straight across the fairway from left to right. Long Reef Beach lies just beyond a long row of sand dunes lining the left edge of the fairway. Extensive mounding right of the short grass is another no-go zone. When the wind is at its strongest, golfers must aim at the beach to have any chance of finding the fairway with their drive. This hole would not be out of place at Ballybunion or Portmarnock or any of the great links courses of Ireland. Instead it is a mere 30-minute drive north of Sydney’s CBD.

Memorable holes

1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 13th, 16th and 17th

Where to go

Anzac Ave, Collaroy, NSW 2097

Book a round

(02) 9982 2943

www.longreefgolfclub.com.au

Where to stay

Accommodation options are plentiful in the beachside suburb of Manly, only 10 km away. If you want unforgettable beach views, try the Sebel Manly Beach or the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacifi c.

Before/after your round

Come face to face with a grey nurse shark, giant stingrays and hundreds of fi sh on a dive at Manly’s Oceanworld. Introductory dives are offered for fi rst-timers, while experienced divers can join in on a feeding session for the sharks and stingrays.

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