Narooma Golf Club
Narooma is a small coastal haven with world-class beaches. It has become renowned for the whales, seals and penguins attracted to the pristine waters offshore. But one of the town’s major attractions remains its golf course, which is ranked among the nation’s top 50 and has been luring hordes of golfers ever since it was extended to an 18-hole layout in 1980 – and for obvious reason.
Located halfway between Sydney and Melbourne via the Princes Highway, Narooma is one of the most visually striking courses in Australia. It weaves through dense tall-timber country, combining magnificent ocean views with dramatically undulating holes. John Spencer, the late course superintendent turned course designer, oversaw Narooma’s expansion, and his legacy is a fine layout that never disappoints. Its high-standard conditioning is a wonderful constant; its natural design leaves you wanting more after the last putt has been sunk.
The opening six holes are links-style and played on the cliff tops above the Pacific Ocean. Then the layout turns inland for the next 10 holes, along fairways lined with enormous ancient gums and other native trees. The final two holes are back above the ocean and susceptible to the prevailing southerly winds whipping up the coast.
Two holes in particular hug the cliff line. The 330-metre, par-four 2nd starts from an elevated tee and drops steeply down to a luxuriant, green, kikuyu fairway. The majority of drives slam into the fairway just as it rises again to bend left round the cliff top. Anything from a long iron to a wedge may be needed to cut across the bend – and a deep bunker – and hit the putting surface. Taking the safe route to the right of the green can land you in a bunker well short.
Narooma’s signature hole, the 141-metre 3rd, also demands that you take on the ocean. Known as ‘Hogan’s Hole’ – after it featured in a Paul Hogan TV commercial – the tee shot here is fraught with danger, for your ball must be struck over a chasm with waves crashing on to the rocks below. Balls mis-hit left or smashed over the green get claimed by the ocean. A sea cave carved out ofthe cliff beneath the green makes this one hole you will never forget.
The back nine’s first par-five, the 460-metre 11th, brings into view some of the largest gum trees on the course. Your drive, from a tee elevation of nearly 50 metres, must find the right of a fairway that doglegs sharply left. Once you are round the corner the fairway rises and falls like a rollercoaster, twisting past three bunkers on its way to the green, which is perched on a plateau and surrounded by more trees.
The 450-metre, par-five 18th is arguably one of the best naturally designed holes. For the first 280 metres of its journey, the fairway slopes steeply from left to right towards the ocean-side scrubland and ti-tree. It then narrows at a 90-degree dogleg to the right. A deep hollow dominates the corner of the dogleg – and only the most regular player at Narooma knows where to aim over the scrub to successfully cut the corner with a long approach. No landmarks are visible, just the sky. The final 100 metres to the green are breathtaking. Nothing can be seen beyond the green other than the blue ocean and Montague Island, with its large seal colony and its lighthouse dating back to 1881.
2nd, 3rd, 5th, 11th, 15th and 18th
Where to go
Ballingalla St, Narooma, NSW 2546
Book a round
(02) 4476 2522
Where to stay
Narooma Surfbeach Holiday Park is adjacent to the course and a short walk to the 1st tee. The park offers 180-degree ocean views from its luxury cabins and caravan sites.
Before/after your round
From September to November, Narooma becomes the whale-watching capital of the New South Wales South Coast. The clubhouse at Narooma has a whale-watching deck, or you can book a spot on one of the many tours that leave the harbour daily. At other times take a seal and penguin tour to Montague Island.