The Grange Golf Club (West Course)

The Grange, West course, par-five 10th, Gary Lisbon / The Grange Golf Club

Melbourne’s sandbelt wasn’t the only region in which golf course construction was booming during the 1920s. Various sites in Adelaide’s western suburbs – Kooyonga in 1922, Glenelg in 1926 – were also being turned into courses. In 1926 the Royal Adelaide Golf Club was completely redesigned under the guidance of Dr Alister MacKenzie. And it was in 1926, too, that the last of Adelaide’s big four clubs – The Grange – opened for play. Soldiers returning to Adelaide after World War I were offered reclaimed land in an area now known as West Lakes. Much of it was a former snake-and-mosquito infested swamp, and it proved totally unsuitable for any kind of agriculture. But a group of local golfers knew that sandy land and could guess what it might be good for. They took out a lease, on 120 acres, and developed a rough course that was nurtured and improved on, mainly by volunteers, over the next three decades.

Vern Morcom, the long-time course superintendent at Kingston Heath, was commissioned in the early 1950s to make wholesale changes to the layout. Every tee and green was replaced and some of the fairways were reshaped. Yet by the turn of the century the West course, as it was now known, had become overgrown with trees planted 50 years earlier, much to the detriment of Morcom’s design. Mike Clayton was asked to remodel the layout in time for the 2008 World Amateur Teams Championship. All 18 greens were replaced and several fairways reshaped – again.

‘Like many older courses,’ says Clayton, ‘it had become claustrophobic, and the tree lines had encroached on to the playing lines. The idea wasn’t to make the course harder – it was to make it more fun. As those trees grow, the views of the hole are lost and the ground hazards on the inside corners of doglegs cease to be relevant, because of the trees. Removing them has opened up the course. You have to be more strategic now. There is certainly more space to drive into, but you have to figure out which part of that space you need to hit to leave the best approach to the green.’

The first of Clayton’s dramatic changes can be seen at the 423-metre, par-four 3rd. Apart from being lengthened, the dogleg-right fairway has been opened up, exposing a spectacular sandy wasteland that was formerly a site for mining sand. A long bunker cuts into the right side of the driving zone, and there is sufficient fairway to the left for the cautious hitter to find. But a deep bunker short and left of the green ensures anyone who takes on and skirts the right fairway bunker is rewarded with a clearer approach to the flag.

Redesigning or modernising golf courses is not always about adding length to combat the advances in equipment. All of Clayton’s designs boast a quality short par-four. At The Grange he actually shortened an existing par-four, the 7th, to create a more memorable hole. The green lies only 285 metres from the tee, giving some players a real chance of driving on to it in the right wind conditions. For those who lay back with an iron, the pin position – as is the case with most of Clayton’s creations here – will dictate the best side of the fairway from which to hit your approach.

Memorable holes

3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 14th and 17th

Where to go

White Sands Dr, Seaton, SA 5023

Book a round

(08) 8355 7100

Where to stay

The Links Hotel has affordable single and queen rooms, as well as a bar and bistro.

Before/after your round

Check out Adelaide Zoo, located in the centre of the city, and two of its biggest attractions: giant pandas Wang Wang and Funi. The zoo is also within walking distance of the Botanic Gardens and the National Wine Centre.

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