The Coast Golf Club

The Coast Golf Club, Brendan James

The Coast certainly has the right address to be considered a golfing gem. Its closest neighbours on this stunning stretch of Sydney coastline are St Michael’s Golf Club to the south and, beyond that, the world-famous New South Wales Golf Club.

Laid out between cliff tops and a new residential development, The Coast is not a long course. Rather, the challenge lies in controlling your ball in the inevitable wind. In some cases you may have to swallow hard, hit towards the ocean, hope the wind doesn’t die down and pray your ball floats back to safety on the breeze. Originally laid out as a nine-hole course by club members, with help from renowned professional Jim Ferrier, The Coast was not expanded to 18 holes until the early 1970s, when much of the foreshore surrounding Little Bay was cleared by prison inmates at nearby Long Bay Gaol. For years its presentation wavered between satisfactory and good. Over the past decade the course has been in consistently excellent condition, with superb greens and firm, fast-running fairways.

The closure and sale of Prince Henry Hospital, on the course’s western edge, resulted in The Coast falling under the transitional ownership of Landcom. The club was subsequently granted a 75-year lease and more work was carried out. The 3rd, 7th and 10th holes were redesigned by James Wilcher, whose portfolio includes such notable courses as Pacific Dunes and The Cut.

The best of Wilcher’s changes is the 3rd hole. Lengthened from a short par-four to a 462-metre par-five, the tee shot is now a tough one, for the driving zone lies between an out-of-bounds left and a seaside ravine to the right. Downwind the green is reachable in two for many players, but in the summer months when the prevailing breeze switches to the north this is a genuine three-shot hole. The green is tucked in close to the cliff top, with bunkers on both sides.

Panoramic ocean views are readily available from all corners. But the crashing waves on the shore only truly become noticeable once you reach the 4th tee. This 183-metre par-three is played along the edge of a rocky coastline and is totally exposed to the elements. It runs southwards into the prevailing wind, which becomes the determining factor in club selection. One day, a mid-iron is all you may need to reach the putting surface; the next day, you can blast your best hit with the driver and it still might not be long enough to carry the rocky ravine and find the green.

The 5th, a 395-metre par-four, continues south along the ocean cliff top. Once again, the wind’s strength and direction can turn this hole into a monster. Into the wind most drives finish short of a slight rise in the fairway, creating a blind, long second shot to a large green with bunkers left and right.

The course tracks inland from the 6th and doesn’t return to the cliff tops until the 14th tee. This 392-metre par-four ranks comfortably among the best holes in Sydney, if not Australia. A series of tees are perched on the cliff face. Your drive needs to clear a bay and find the fairway, which begins on another cliff top about 160 metres (from the back markers) away. The left side of the fairway then hugs the edge of the cliff face all the way to the green. The best angle to approach this green is from the dangerous left half, although most people will happily take par or bogey any way they can and walk straight to the next tee.

Memorable holes

3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 14th, 15th and 16th

Where to go

1 Coast Hospital Road, Little Bay, NSW 2036

Book a round

1430 Anzac Pde, Little Bay, NSW 2036

Where to stay

The beachside suburb of Coogee is 20 minutes’ drive north of The Coast. Among the wide range of accommodation options are Crowne Plaza Coogee and the Coogee Sands Hotel, both of which overlook Coogee Bay and nearby Wedding Cake Island.

Before/after your round

Take a dip in Coogee’s historic Wylie’s Baths. Established in 1907 by champion long-distance swimmer Henry Wylie, the baths are one of Sydney’s most beautiful ocean tidal pools.

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