Secret Harbour Golf Links

Secret Harbour, par-three 16th, Brendan James

Towering sand dunes covered with thick coastal scrub were the sight that greeted Graham Marsh, former player turned course designer, when he took his first look at the proposed Secret Harbour Golf Links in the early 1990s. This landscape would prove the ideal canvas. A mere long iron from the Indian Ocean, Secret Harbour offers a traditional links experience, with rolling fairways and predominantly small pot bunkers laid out among the sand dunes. And, of course, there is the other essential links course ingredient: wind. The wind is a constant here, and Marsh kept the wind firmly in mind in ensuring his layout would be fair and challenging for players of all abilities. Secret Harbour is today the centrepiece of a massive residential golf community. Most of the planned development has gone ahead during the past decade, filling up much of the land around the layout’s edges. Some of the most memorable holes are to be found on the front nine, which Marsh claims to be the best nine holes he has ever designed.

Two of his finest are the back-to-back long par-fours: the 413-metre 4th and the 397-metre 5th. They flow uphill and downhill respectively, in opposite directions, on either side of a sand-dune ridge. The 4th demands a long drive over a swamp if you are to find the fairway, which is flanked by six deep bunkers. The elevated green is wedged between a rough-covered dune to the right and out-of-bounds areas long and left.

If the 4th is played into the wind, you will get some respite heading downhill and downwind on the 5th. Even so, an out-of-bounds left, a scrub-covered ridge right and some strategically positioned fairway bunkers add up to a tough hole. The green and its surrounds are reminiscent of Dr Alister MacKenzie’s work at Royal Melbourne West, or some of the fine links courses of Great Britain. The detail and shaping are magnificent, fully complemented by tightly trimmed playing surfaces that offer plenty of shot options in your efforts to save par.

The undulating dunescape of the front nine makes way for gentler rolling holes on the homeward trek. A combination of deep pot bunkers and big sandbelt-style traps are carved out of the sandy base at regular intervals from the 10th hole onwards, putting accuracy at a premium. At the 373-metre, par-four 15th, thick bush lines both sides of the fairway, which splits in two as it veers either side of a large bush-covered mound. Your drive has to be positioned left or right of the mound to give yourself a view of the green for your approach shot, which must not only avoid a tall dune to the right but a scheme of pot bunkers guarding the left edge of the putting surface.

Marsh’s bunkering is a key feature of the exquisite 18th hole, a 381-metre parfour. The elevated tee offers sweeping views over the Indian Ocean, and in late afternoon the setting sun casts heavy black shadows over the seven bunkers and small mounds that dot the route to the putting surface. Even the biggest drive here will leave a perilously long approach shot – to a green nestled beside a reed filled swamp. For such a beautiful hole, it can be a real brute.

Memorable holes

4th, 5th, 8th, 15th, 17th and 18th

Where to go

Secret Harbour Blvd, Secret Harbour, WA 6173

Book a round

(08) 9524 7133,  

www.secretharbourgolflinks. com.au

Where to stay

Secret Harbour Golfers Lodge offers bed and breakfast-style accommodation overlooking the 10th tee.

Before/after your round

Visit Marapana Wildlife Park, a 10-minute drive away at nearby Karnup, and help yourself to a hands-on experience with koalas, wombats, snakes, dingoes and kangaroos.

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