Pacific Harbour Golf & Country Club

Pacific Harbour, par-four 10th, Brendan James

Challenging the best players without alienating casual and beginner golfers is the fine line every course designer treads in coming up with a new creation. One designer who does it better than most is Ross Watson. His work at Pacific Harbour on Bribie Island, an 80-minute drive north of Brisbane’s CBD, is a fine example.

‘I tried,’ says Watson, ‘to create 18 individual and memorable holes that all golfers will enjoy. The fairways are generous in width but most holes have a variety of playing lines that call for different strategies. There are plenty of safe hitting areas for less gifted players.’ Watson has every right to be happy with the finished product – a layout that over time will become a favourite of all golfers. This island links course is not a place where you can simply blaze away with your driver, despite those wide fairways of Watson’s. Watson has not advised the greens staff to cut in some rough at the 270-metre mark; nor has he used bunkers to narrow the driving zones: technically, long hitters can blast off willy-nilly. Yet the further you smash your drive on some holes, the more complicated your approach shot becomes because of Watson’s rolling, deftly designed fairways. It makes for some strong parfours. What really sets golfers’ tongues wagging, though, are Pacific Harbour’s par-threes.

There are four of them, and they are all different. The 4th hole measures 185 metres from the tips but a wide entrance to the putting surface lets tee shots land short and run on. The 140-metre 7th is known as ‘Sawgrass’ – in honour of the island-green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in the United States, home of The Players Championship. Watson’s version is merely a semi-island putting surface. But you could swear it is totally surrounded by water as you survey the shot awaiting you from the back tee. There is nothing but water between you and the fringe of the green, which is perched nearly two metres above the waterline.

Watson has always been keen to leave nature be wherever possible. His par-three 13th, known as ‘Kakadu’, is a great example. This 155-metre hole skirts the edge of some wetlands and plays into a prevailing breeze, so club selection is crucial.

Most talked-about of all is the 205-metre 17th – ‘The Beach’ – which features the longest bunker (just on 200 metres) in the Southern Hemisphere. This bunker forms a beach barrier between the fairway/green and a lake that runs along the entire right side of the hole. From the back tee it is a mighty blow to the middle of a slightly elevated green. From the forward markers the task is less exacting, but still a tee shot of at least 150 metres is needed to clear the sand and run on to the front edge. This is one hole golfers will either cherish for its beauty and the challenge it poses, or hate because they cannot hit the ball far enough to clear the sand – and are forced to lay up on a par-three.

Either way, the 17th at Pacific Harbour is destined to be one of this country’s most infamous holes in the years to come.  

Memorable holes

2nd, 6th, 7th, 11th, 14th and 17th

Where to go

Avon Ave, Bribie Island, Queensland 4653

Book a round

1300 744 653

Where to stay

Fairways Golf and Beach Retreat, located opposite Bribie Island Golf Club and a five-minute drive from Pacific Harbour, has luxury self-contained apartments.

Before/after your round

A favourite Bribie Island activity is to play on and in the waters of the Pumice stone Passage, which separates the island from the mainland. Para-sailing high and dry above the passage, you can savour views of Moreton Bay and the Glasshouse Mountains.

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