Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club (Pines course)

Sanctuary Cove, par-four 5th – ‘fantastic driving hole’, Brendan James

Sanctuary Cove’s Pines layout, designed by Arnold Palmer, has reigned for more than two decades as one of the Gold Coast’s best courses. At various stages during that time it has also ranked among the nation’s toughest, with a course rating of 76 against its par of 72. From the back tee markers, the layout is a punishing 6681 metres – making it one of Australia’s five longest – although shorter tee options are spread throughout. They might shorten the journey but they scarcely lessen the challenge.

Complicating your round, on 14 out of 18 holes, are water hazards of some size or shape. Six man-made lakes dominate the landscape and Palmer’s design incorporates them at every opportunity, from the par-three 4th through to the long par-four 18th. The exception is the 16th, a 166-metre par-three, where a sea of sand, not water, stretches between tee and green.

Yet as its name suggests, the course’s defining feature is the pine trees bordering many of its fairways. The 351-metre, par-four 2nd is a great hole, a sharp doglegleft that has been cut out of the heart of a pine forest. This dictates that you leave your driver in the bag and call on a long iron or fairway metal to find the fairway. The green is wide, and a tier running from front to back splits it in two, so an accurate iron to the correct side of the putting surface is needed if you are to avoid a long, breaking putt.

While the 2nd keeps your driver holstered, the parfour 5th is a fantastic driving hole. Water down the right and pines to the left light up your 391-metre path to the green. The rolling fairway can throw up all manner of approach shots to a putting surface guarded by a pod of bunkers to the left, as well as large mounds and swales. The following hole, a 330-metre par-four, has provided plenty of drama in years past – and if you are not on your guard there will be drama on your scorecard. Sanctuary Cove hosted two Skins games back in the early ’90s, and it was here that big-hitting John Daly arrived at the short par-four 6th and took to it with great vigour, much like he would a six-pack of diet cokes. He smashed his tee shot over the tall pines lining the left of the fairway, before clearing the water hazard just short of the putting surface to set up a certain birdie and collect the cash. A plaque has since been laid to commemorate Daly’s mighty blow. Three holes into the back nine, you emerge out of the pines and into a more open section, and are immediately confronted by the most talked-about hole on the course. There are more than six different tee positions on the 185-metre, par-three 13th, so choose wisely. The green lies on the far side of a lake and your tee shot must fly all the way over the water. Boulders wedged into the banks of the lake are not only cosmetically appealing but capable of deflecting balls back into the water . . . or occasionally on to the green.

Sanctuary Cove recently opened a new multi-million dollar clubhouse overlooking the 18th green of the Pines layout. This has eliminated the long trek by golf cart out to the course. The Pines is a private members’ course, but tee times are available for members’ guests and visitors staying at the nearby Hyatt Regency.

Memorable holes

2nd, 5th, 6th, 10th, 13th, 17th and 18th

Where to go

The Parkway, Sanctuary Cove, Queensland 4212

Book a round

(07) 5699 9000  


Where to stay

The Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove, a fi ve-star resort hotel, is a short walk from the 1st tee. Set amid lush, tropical gardens, it has more than 240 rooms and suites with golf, garden, beach or lagoon views.

Before/after your round

The Gold Coast is home to several theme parks. Movie World, Dreamworld and Wet’n’Wild Water Park are 10 minutes’ drive from Sanctuary Cove.

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