The Western Australian Golf Club

Tricky first shot: The Western Australian, par-three 1st, Brendan James

The Western Australian Golf Club is a hidden gem, particularly to visitors from interstate or overseas. Set amid the rolling hills of suburban Yokine, and covering some of the highest points to be found north of Perth, this heavily bunkered and undulating layout of tight, tree-lined fairways and generously sized greens was first chosen as the site for an 18-hole golf course in 1927.

English-born architect Eustace Cohen, who had mainly designed buildings up till that stage, and surveyor Victor Steffanoni were commissioned to create the layout. In 1928 Alex Russell, who’d worked alongside Dr Alister MacKenzie at Royal Melbourne, was in Perth to design the new course at nearby Lake Karrinyup. During his visit, the Western Australian Golf Club approached him to modify and bunker their course. It has since evolved gradually over the years. The most recent changes were felt across the entire layout, with fairways reshaped and the greens, surrounds and bunkers remodelled, under the consulting guidance of Graham Marsh.

A major part of the redesign involved the replacement of the course irrigation system. A large lake is now situated between the 1st and 9th holes. This has led to today’s flawless conditioning of the bent-grass greens and kikuyu fairways, for which the course is renowned. The kikuyu fairways are ideal here, for they offer much less run than couch grass, ensuring the course plays to all of its 5800 metres from the championship markers. The lake does more than supply the course with water. It also sets up some spectacular views, especially from the clubhouse, which is perched on the 12th highest point in WA and looks out across the lake and the 1st hole and down to the city skyline.

The opening hole is stunning, both visually and for the challenge it poses from your very first shot of the round. Bordering the left edge of this 210-metre par-three is the lake. Standing tall to the right are eucalypts. Bunkers short, left and right of the green add to the pressure to make that opening shot – whether with a fairway metal or a long iron – a good one.

Few championship courses – The Lakes in Sydney is an exception – open the round with a par-three and then return to the clubhouse at the halfway mark with another. The lake that skirts the opening hole here comes into its own on the 176-metre 9th, where your tee shot, especially from the back markers, must clear the water on its way to the green. The putting surface is large but two deep bunkers left – not unlike those found on Melbourne’s sandbelt – and two more to the right make a bogey more likely than par here.

The inward nine boasts four excellent short par-fours in the 10th, 12th, 14th and 15th holes. The 288-metre downhill 12th is both the shortest and best. From the tee, the highest point on the course, the sweeping views across Perth’s inner northern suburbs are majestic. But it is the view down the fairway that will either excite or intimidate you. Long hitters will fancy their chances of reaching the green and setting up an eagle opportunity. To do so, their tee shot must be long and pinpoint accurate to avoid bunkers staggered left, right and short of the green. Three more bunkers cut into the fringes of the putting surface. Laying up with an iron is also no easy option, unless you feel confident hitting a short iron from a downhill lie.

The Western Australian is a private club but tee times are available for members of reciprocal interstate and overseas clubs.

Memorable holes

1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 12th, 15th and 16th

Where to go

60 Hayes Ave, Yokine, WA 6060

Book a round

(08) 9349 1988,

Where to stay

Beautiful Scarborough Beach, with its mix of hotels, resorts and serviced apartments, is a 20-minute drive east of the course. Rendezvous Observation City Hotel overlooks the beach and has rooms with ocean views.

Before/after your round

Most afternoons Scarborough bursts into colour as the sea breeze drags kite surfers and sailboarders into action. The beach is famous for its regular swell and surf breaks and its long stretch of white sand.

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