New South Wales Golf Club

New South Wales, par-three 6th – ‘you must carry the cove’, Brendan James

Few courses anywhere can rival New South Wales for its array of fascinating and spectacularly natural seaside holes. Laid out across sometimes dramatic, undulating topography on the La Perouse peninsula – with the Pacific Ocean on one side, Botany Bay on another – New South Wales sits easily among the best 50 courses in the world. A windswept links-style course, it offers a diverse range of challenges from the first hole to the last. The club’s official history book attributes the design to Dr Alister MacKenzie – on his whirlwind Australian trip of 1926 – as well as to Eric Apperly and, more recently, the design firms of Peter Thomson, Jack Newton and Greg Norman. But the reality is that New South Wales was built by nature and improved on, for the playing of golf, by those aforementioned designers.

Before returning to the United States, MacKenzie handed in a glowing report and an initial layout design. Construction was in full swing by the time he got home and the course, though not finished, was officially opened in 1928. MacKenzie’s bunker plan could not be implemented because of the stock market crash of October 1929. It wasn’t until 1931 that moves were made to start work, and Apperly offered to finish the bunkers MacKenzie had drawn up.

Apperly demonstrated a clear understanding of MacKenzie’s approach to course architecture: to let the land dictate the holes and create the excitement, and to build hazards and greens in the spirit of the land assigned to them. But he made significant changes to MacKenzie’s routing, replacing the three original par-threes with four new ones, played to the four points of the compass. He turned what is now the 8th hole into a par-five and cut the present-day 4th to a par-four.

In recent years Greg Norman has advised the club on changes to greens and bunkers, with long-time course superintendent Gary Dempsey overseeing the work. Dozens of sand traps have been converted to sod-faced (revetted) bunkers, a trademark feature of the great links courses of Great Britain and Ireland.

A round at New South Wales brings plenty of highlights. First-timers will be impressed by the openingquartet of holes, then left awestruck by the layout’s dynamic duo: the 468-metre, par-five 5th and the 177-metre, par-three 6th. On the 5th a long drive, especially into the wind, takes you to the tabletop crest of a hill. There you can bask in Australian golf’s most breathtaking view, an amazing panorama stretching down to the green and across the ocean beyond. No matter how many times you experience it, there is nothing but awe for the scene – that and a fairway metal from the top of the hill.

Walking from the 5th green, you follow the path and a bridge to get to the next tee, laid out on a rocky sandstone platform with the ocean behind and in front. To find the green, easily the most photographed in Australia, you must first carry the cove with your tee shot.

The holes crossing the most dramatic topography can be found on the back nine. The 323-metre, par-four 14th is a standout. Your tee shot must fly at least 180 metres to carry a ravine filled with dense scrub and ti-tree and then make it over the crest of a hill on the other side. From there, a short iron is all that is needed to find the exposed and elevated green, perched high on top of a cliff.

Although New South Wales is a private club, limited access for visitors is available on weekdays. Bookings are essential.

Memorable holes

3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th

Where to go

Henry Head, Botany Bay National Park, La Perouse, NSW 2036

Book a round

(02) 9661 4455

Where to stay

The Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach – a 15-minute drive around the shore of Botany Bay and the edge of the airport – is a 296-room hotel overlooking the bay. It’s close to numerous restaurants.

Before/after your round

Brighton-Le-Sands is home to the Bicentennial Monument, in Cook Park, which commemorates the First Fleet’s arrival at Botany Bay in 1788.

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