Pymble Golf Club

Bunkers on the 6th, Pymble – ‘accuracy is a must’, Brendan James

Pymble Golf Club has a rich history of nurturing some of the finest ball-strikers Australia has seen. The great Kel Nagle was the club’s resident professional for five years, and it was on the Pymble practice fairway that Nagle made some dramatic changes to his swing to become a fearsome hitter and deadly accurate iron player. He then returned to the tour full-time and won the 1960 British Open. The club has sired plenty of other prominent Australian players: Kevin Donohoe, Bob Stevens, Tony Dight. Rodger Davis learnt the game at Pymble and the club also adopted Peter O’Malley when he moved to Sydney from Bathurst as a teenager.

The ability of these players says something about the quality of the layout. It was originally designed by Dan Soutar and Carnegie Clark, who’d grown up together in Scotland, learning the game on the great links of Carnoustie. Pymble is one of only a few courses on which the pair collaborated. The Soutar–Clark design was altered in 1953 after the club purchased some adjoining land. Three holes – separated from the course proper by a road – were eliminated. Eric Apperly, whose designs included The Lakes and Newcastle, was commissioned to rebuild the course and incorporate the new land, where the 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes can be found today.

The 15th and 16th are not as Apperly left them. Water restrictions in Sydney a few years ago exposed a major problem at Pymble: inadequate water storage. A decision was made to de-silt the irrigation dam beside the 16th fairway. The work involved heavy machinery, and significant damage to the course was expected, so the club’s committee took the opportunity to have Ross Watson rebuild the 15th and 16th holes.

The de-silting process, apart from increasing the dam’s storage by four megalitres, provided fill for the new 357-metre, par-four 16th, the hole that has undergone the most dramatic change. The tee overlooks the irrigation dam. Players are now confronted by a fairway that rises gradually from the water’s edge to a small hill crest, before veering right around two large bunkers and a crop of tall trees. A good drive leaves a mid-iron approachshot to a green positioned just beyond a meandering stream, lined with colourful bush rock, which empties into a pond short and right of the putting surface. Four bunkers ring the sizeable green – and they don’t look out of place with the rest of Pymble.

The fairways are undulating and heavily tree-lined, and most holes on this 6093-metre course boast several bunkers. It is no wonder Pymble has such a terrific history of great ball-strikers and course management strategists. One of Pymble’s finest short holes, calling for something more than a bash from the tee, is the uphill 316-metre, par-four 6th. Tall gums hang over the right edge of a doglegging fairway and a line of bunkers hug the left, which narrows the driving zone considerably. Accuracy from the tee is a must, with the best line into the elevated green coming from the left half of the fairway alongside the series of bunkers. Pymble is renowned as one of the best-conditioned private clubs in Sydney. Beautifully manicured fairways and virtually flawless bent-grass greens are the norm here. As a private members’ course access is restricted, but members of interstate or overseas clubs can apply for a tee time through the general manager.

Memorable holes

4th, 5th, 8th, 15th, 16th and 17th

Where to go

Cowan Rd, St Ives, NSW 2075

Book a round

(02) 9144 2884

Where to stay

Killara Inn is a boutique hotel with 39 deluxe rooms and apartments. Located on the Pacifi c Highway, it’s less than fi ve minutes’ drive from the course.

Before/after your round

Ku-ring-gai Wildfl ower Garden is well worth a visit. Its 123 hectares of bush feature heathland, tall forest, sandstone outcrops, ponds, gullies and waterfalls. There are walking tracks, boardwalks and picnic areas.

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