Capricorn Resort (Championship course)

Semi-island green at Capricorn, par-four 13th, Brendan James

The late 1980s and early ’90s were days of a course building boom in Queensland, on the Gold Coast especially. But one developer, the Japan-based Iwasaki Group, chose a relatively isolated location near Yeppoon, 45 minutes north-east of Rockhampton, to build their resort and two 18-hole courses. The first one completed, a Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge design, is a well conditioned layout with wide fairways and big greens. It is an enjoyable course. But it undoubtedly plays second fiddle to the one next door.

The Championship course is a layout for serious golfers, as well as for those less serious who love to pit their limited skills against a mighty course in a David and Goliath-style battle. Designed by American Karl Litten and opened for play in 1992, the Championship layout measures a monstrous 6542 metres from the back markers, making it one of the longest in Australia. Not surprisingly, length is the course’s greatest defence, followed closely by Litten’s smart bunkering. In some cases the bunkers he has placed do not even come into play – but they create illusion and deception in the mind of the golfer. The par-four 6th, for example, has three innocuous bunkers cut into mounds at the end of the doglegging-left fairway. There is little or no chance of reaching them from the tee, yet they seem much closer, compelling you to leave your driver in the bag. Similar can be said of the bunkers around the end of the dogleg on the 10th fairway. But these ones will catch the shorter hitter, who would rarely make it to the corner of this L-shaped, 388-metre par-four from the tee, when they try to hook their second shot round the bend. The majority of holes are truly unforgettable. The 1st is a massive 555-metre par-five that starts out straight and turns hard right at the 280-metre mark. Players landing short of the corner have to contend with tall gums covering the inside of the dogleg. Once around the corner, it’s a narrow corridor to the green. After putting out on the 2nd, a 413-metre par-four, it is hard to believe you are nearly a kilometre from the clubhouse – having played just two holes. Most of the outward nine weaves through melaleuca bushland and tall timbers. The inward half feels more open, and mis-hits are not so heavily penalised. The highlight of the journey back to the clubhouse is a trio of holes starting at the par-four 13th. There is nothing too strenuous about this 357-metre offering – until, that is, you reach the top of the rise in the fairway, when you notice the semi-island green lying 150 metres in front and a long way below you. It is an awesome sight, with water surrounding the green and four bunkers dotted round the putting surface.

Water comes into play again at the 14th, a 202-metre par-three, which runs all the way to the edge of a beautiful lake. On the other shoreline sits the green, elevated well above the tee level, with one bunker right and another one short.

Sand is the cause of most of your worries as you stand on the next tee. Fifteen bunkers lie ready to impede your progress along the 475-metre, par-five 15th. Ideally, the way to avoid them is to drive just left of centre, then caress a mid-iron to the fairway before heading for the green. Short cuts over the corner of the dogleg can cost you any number of strokes, for 11 of the 15 bunkers hug the left of the fairway, which just so happens to be the shortest route to the green. A round of golf here is usually played in front of a gallery of wildlife – kookaburras, brolgas, ducks, kangaroos and black cockatoos – adding to the fun of the golfing experience.

Memorable holes

1st, 2nd, 6th, 13th 14th and 15th

Where to go

Farnborough Rd, Yeppoon, Queensland 4703

Book a round

(07) 4939 5111

Where to stay

Rydges Capricorn Resort is on site and offers a variety of rooms and suites.

Before/after your round

Coastal Yeppoon has plenty of natural attractions and is also the home of the Champions Brock Experience: Australia’s largest collection of Peter Brock road and race cars. Racing fans will fi nd more than 38 vehicles under the one roof, as well as a massive array of Brock memorabilia.

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