Araluen Golf Resort

The par-three 16th at Araluen, Brendan James

Steep forest-covered hills above deep valleys are not the ideal landscape on which to create a golf course. But that did not stop the developers of Araluen Golf Resort – in the Roleystone Hills, 45 minutes south-east of Perth – in the early 1990s. They had a vision for a world-class course that all golfers could experience, and the design team of Michael Coate and tour player Roger Mackay were asked to build it.

The challenge before them was to create a course on a hard base combination of clay, limestone and granite. Complicating their task were the severe elevation changes spread right across the terrain. With this in mind, they chose to start their design at the point where the drop from tee to green was steepest: in other words, they built the 165-metre, par-three 16th hole first. Played from a tee 60 metres above the green, with a picturesque pond just short of the putting surface, the 16th could only be played downhill. They then tracked two more holes up a valley and back to another high point on the course, where the clubhouse sits today, and routed the rest of the layout from there.

One of those two holes – the 479-metre 17th – is the best par-five at Araluen. Its relatively wide fairway climbs gradually from the tee and slopes left to right, down to a stream, which runs the length of the hole and cuts in front of the green. Although the hole plays uphill, long hitters can reach the green in two if they are prepared to flirt with the stream, where their reward is a shorter approach shot to a green with three large bunkers at the back.

The most memorable front nine hole is the 9th. A 398-metre par-four, it plays much shorter than the scorecard suggests, because at about the 150-metre mark the fairway plunges steeply downhill. Some big hitters may need to take an iron from the tee to avoid driving too long and landing in the lake at the bottom, some 300 metres away. The ideal drive is along the right half of the fairway, leaving you the best angle from which to hit a short iron on to the green that lies the other side of the lake.

Araluen hosted the WA PGA Championship in 2005. The course slipped into a steady decline soon after, the result of drought conditions and a bushfire that ripped through the hills later that year. By 2008 the water was all gone and the playing surfaces had started to die. It was around this time that a Scottish course superintendent, Gordon Heron, began work at Araluen. He brought with him great knowledge and experience, having prepared the world-famous Turnberry course for two European Opens and the 1986 British Open. ‘Araluen had been a spectacular course – and it was terrible,’ Heron recalls. ‘It broke my heart to come back here and find the course in such a poor condition. But it could be spectacular again.’

Significant improvements are already plain to see. The tees and greens are in remarkably better shape; the focus in recent times, with the help of a new irrigation system, has been on lifting the quality of the fairways.

Memorable holes

3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 16th and 17th

Where to go

Country Club Ave, Roleystone, WA 6111

Book a round

(08) 9397 9033

Where to stay

Although Araluen calls itself a golf resort, there is no accommodation on site. Hidden Valley Eco Spa Lodges & Day Spa are a 15-minute drive from the course and have selfcontained luxury lodges with private Jacuzzis.

Before/after your round

Araluen Botanic Park, nestled in a jarrah-forested valley, has fl owing streams, grassy areas and walking trails.

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