Mt Lawley Golf Club

The 18th hole at Mt Lawley, Brendan James

Perth was a booming town in the late 1920s, and as more and more people headed west from the eastern states, the demand for golf courses grew. Four of Perth’s finest layouts – Lake Karrinyup, Cottesloe, The Western Australian and Mt Lawley – opened for play within an 18-month period from the summer of 1928. The club professional at Royal Perth, David Anderson, had overseen Cottesloe’s move to Swanbourne and was meanwhile working on an ambitious project at the fledgling Mt Lawley club.

The original plan was for an 18-hole course plus a ninehole ladies course. But the financial realities of that idea soon hit home – when Mt Lawley opened, it was as a 10-hole course, and it wasn’t until 1936 that eight more were added. Much of Anderson’s original layout has since been tinkered with. The most significant changes have occurred recently: an eight-year plan to convert all fairways to Santa Ana couch grass, modernise the green schemes, redesign the fairway bunkering and add further bunkers to the playing lines. Local designer Michael Coate, the creative mind behind the acclaimed layouts at Kennedy Bay and Araluen, has overseen the stunning rejuvenation, which was completed in time for the club to host the 2010 Australian Amateur Championship. Today Mt Lawley is a course of tight, tree-lined fairways and bunkers akin to those found on Melbourne’s sandbelt. Holes are routed over and across sloping land, leading to some blind shots and a variety of lies for approach shots. Coate’s fairway bunkering has stiffened the challenge. Often the best place to approach the green is not from the middle of the fairway but from right alongside one of the designer’s sandy hazards. A fine example of this is the 7th hole, a 360-metre par-four, where two huge bunkers have been added to the right side of the fairway at the point where it doglegs slightly to the right. These bunkers do not lie in the rough on the edge, either; they are right in the fairway. With deep greenside bunkers also cutting into the putting surface from the left, the best route to the green is from the perilous edge of these fairway traps.

The same risk-and-reward element lights up the 382-metre, par-four 12th. A lone fairway trap used to lie on the left edge of the dogleg right. This has been removed. Now a huge bunker sits on the inside corner of the turning fairway, right on the fringe of the ideal driving line. It is not a deep bunker but it is enough to make par an outside chance, with a long or mid-iron still required to reach the slightly elevated green.

One hole that has changed little over the years is the 132-metre 13th, a downhill par-three known as ‘Commonwealth’. It is so called because the putting surface bears a striking resemblance to the shape of Australia, except instead of being surrounded by water, this Australia is ringed by a sea of sand: six bunkers. Flag positions here are often described by their ‘geographical’ location, so when the prevailing wind strengthens into your face Alice Springs, Kalgoorlie or Broken Hill become the safest targets. Heading into the final stretch of holes, this is a definite birdie chance. But even the slightest miss hit will be penalised with a tough bunker shot or a chip from an awkward lie. Mt Lawley is a private club. Members of interstate or overseas clubs, who have an official handicap, can apply for a tee time through the general manager.

Memorable holes

2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 18th

Where to go

1 Walter Rd, Inglewood, WA 6052

Book a round

(08) 9271 9622,

Where to stay

Mt Lawley is a 10-minute drive from Perth’s CBD. Among a wide selection of hotels, especially along Adelaide Tce, are the Novotel Perth Langley, Sheraton Perth and Perth Ambassador.

Before/after your round

Visit the Perth Mint – one of the world’s oldest mints – a short walk from the city centre. Still operating from its original premises, it was established in 1899 as a branch of the British Royal Mint to refine gold from WA’s goldfields.

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