Pelican Waters Golf Club

The 5th hole at Pelican Waters, Brendan James

It took 54 years for his dream to be realised, but when Pelican Waters Golf Club finally opened for play in 2000, not even the visionary behind the original idea could have imagined it would turn out as good as it did. Bevan Henzell pictured a championship golf course being built on his land, just south of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, as far back as 1946. The flood-prone nature of the terrain, alas, did not lend itself to such a project.

But one man’s dream became another man’s passion. Roy Henzell, Bevan’s son, toiled against the odds to get Pelican Waters up and running. Greg Norman and his chief course designer Bob Harrison were commissioned. They were given a free hand to transform the land from scratch – a trickier task, surely, than working with the natural landscape to create a golf course.

Despite this, the design at Pelican Waters might just be their finest collaboration. Huge lakes were carved out. The sandy soil was used to build up the course and residential areas. Vast wetlands were created to attract birdlife and provide a charming backdrop to several holes. The end result is a golfing gem, a superb layout that is regularly ranked among Australia’s top 50 courses.

The first six holes demand clever strategy rather than prodigious hitting to set up your scoring momentum. Of these, three are par-fours and the longest is the 1st, at 359 metres. But it is the 5th, known as ‘The Passage’, that you will remember long after your round is over. At 349 metres it’s a classic par-four, with a generous fairway flanked by water to the left. Four large fairway bunkers hug the edges at strategic points. The lake cuts the fairway in two just short of the green, which sits diagonally to your approach shot. Two cavernous bunkers at the back of the green will catch anyone who errs on the side of taking too much club to clear the water hazard in front.

The 159-metre 6th (‘Glasshouse’) is a wonderful par-three that shares some of the classic characteristics of Augusta National’s famous 12th (‘Golden Bell’) and 16th (‘Redbud’) holes. The green is similarly shaped to Augusta’s 16th, with a large bunker lying between the putting surface and a lake, which must be carried with your tee shot. And like Augusta’s 12th, the 6th at Pelican Waters has two bunkers sitting beyond the green to catch anyone who overhits in a bid to avoid the water. Enter the sand here and finding your way back on to the green, with water lurking, is a daunting prospect. Closing out the round is a tough quartet of holes, consisting of three long par-fours (15th, 17th, 18th) and a tight par-five (16th). All four are carved out of native bushland. Grass trees, saw sedge, wallum boronia, smoke bush, vanilla lily, curly wigs and foxtail plants give the impression that the course has been in existence centuries longer than it really has. They offer a change of pace and some welcome variety from the previous 14 links-style holes.

Of these last four, the 17th is the sleeper hole. This 383-metre par-four is tight and long, and about 220 metres out from the tee it turns almost 90 degrees right. The widest part of the fairway is on the corner of the dogleg, and you could be forgiven for walking single file with your playing partners up the middle of the fairway to avoid the trees.

Memorable holes

2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 15th, 17th and 18th

Where to go

40 Mahogany Dr, Pelican Waters, Queensland 4551

Book a round

(07) 5437 5000,

Where to stay

Crowne Plaza Pelican Waters is a four-and-a-half-star resort-style hotel with more than 100 rooms overlooking the golf course. Stay-andplay packages are available.

Before/after your round

Australia Zoo is like no other. Catch some great wildlife shows, chat to the friendly zookeepers, or get up close and personal with an elephant, koala, kangaroo, python or Bengal tiger. And, of course, there are crocs. The zoo is near the Glasshouse Mountains, a 40-minute drive west of the course.

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