Concord Golf Club
From the very first days that golf was played in New South Wales, the name Concord has been part of the landscape. Established in 1899, golf began on the current site – on a layout designed by Dan Soutar, who two decades later created Kingston Heath on Melbourne’s sandbelt – in 1907.
Nearly all the holes were changed at various times over the following 80 years, especially during the 1980s and early ’90s when Concord became a regular host of the New South Wales Open and the Australian PGA Championship. Greg Norman was a winner here, three times, as were the likes of Wayne Grady, Craig Parry and Ian Baker-Finch.
The biggest makeover began in 1996 when course architect Ross Watson was commissioned to remodel greens, fairways and bunkers, as well as adding new bunkers, to toughen the challenge of Concord. The massive dam beside the 15th tee was reshaped. More than $1.4 million was spent, and in agreeing to Watson’splan Concord’s members voted to do what no established Australian club had done before – bulldoze all 18 greens and redesign each hole to suit. ‘Strategy more often than not begins at the tee,’ is Watson’s view. ‘I therefore felt it important that if we were going to make changes to the surfaces of the greens and the surrounding bunkering, then we should look at the impact it would have on overall strategy at each hole.’
Watson’s changes certainly gave Concord more bite. When the Australasian PGA Tour returned to the course in 2001 after an eight-year absence, players at the ANZ Championship gave the new layout the thumbs-up. The course superintendent who oversaw Watson’s remodelling was Mark Parker, who made some major alterations of his own in 2009. The twin long par-threes, the 9th and 10th holes, were taken out of play and became a medium-length, dogleg-right par-four, which is now the 10th. To make up for the loss of one hole, the tight and tree-lined par-five 7th was replaced by a long par-three and a short, downhill par-four, which ends at what used to be the 7th green.
Another important change of Parker’s was to expose a meandering creek that now runs across, between and along several holes, including the dogleg-right 3rd, which was already a demanding par-four of 372 metres. Now the stream cuts across the fairway and tracks along its left edge, until reaching the inside corner of the dogleg where it feeds into a pond. The reward for driving successfully into the right half of the fairway has intensified with the addition of the creek. Par here is a well-earned score. Another strong par-four is the 6th. Measuring 392 metres from the back markers, this hole plays slightly shorter if your drive avoids the array of fairway bunkers to the left and bounds over the crest of a small hill. This leaves a long to mid-iron approach to a huge tiered green, with bunkers lying short and right. A new addition here is a small stream cutting around both the right edge and the back of the putting surface. A steep, well-trimmed slope off the green sends even the most slightly mis-hit approach shot to a watery grave.
Parker’s recent work, combined with the five-star conditioning of the bent-grass greens and kikuyu fairways, has raised the bar on what to expect from a round at Concord. One hopes the club aspires to host more major championships, and that the new Concord can soon be tested by the best players once again. Concord is a private course, but members of interstate and overseas clubs who have an official handicap can apply for a tee time through the club’s general manager.
1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 15th and 18th
Where to go
190 Majors Bay Rd, Concord, NSW 2137
Book a round
(02) 9743 6111
Where to stay
Concord is a 25-minute drive west of the Sydney CBD and Darling Harbour, which offer a wide range of accommodation options. If you want to stay closer to the course, nearby Sydney Olympic Park has the Pullman, Novotel and Ibis hotels.
Before/after your round
Take a tour of the Sydney Olympic Stadium. The behind-the-scenes Explore Tour goes deep under the stadium, into the change rooms and out on to the hallowed turf.comments powered by Disqus