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Australian Open winners at New South Wales Golf Club:
Adam Scott (Aus) 2009.
New South Wales (NSW) is one of the most spectacular courses in Australia and it’s one of the toughest tests of golf in the country. If you have been fortunate (or should we say unfortunate) to try and play NSW in any sort of wind, you will certainly know what we mean. It has lost some of its undergrowth with the bushfires that went through the area a few years ago but the panoramic views that have resulted will leave you spellbound.
Initially Dr Alister MacKenzie designed New South Wales in 1926. MacKenzie was responsible for probably the most famed cliff-top ocean course in all of world golf – in the USA – two years after he created the layout here at La Perouse. The NSW course overlooks Botany Bay, where Captain James Cook first sailed in to Australia in 1770. The course was built some 150 years later with the assistance of another famous architect, Eric Apperly, who was largely responsible for the bunkering and ensuring that MacKenzie's vision became a reality.
The tough par three 2nd soon gives you a flavour for the stern test of golf ahead. Each of the four par threes are set in different directions, which means that you will be tested by the wind that will hit you from all directions – just like the great links courses in the British Isles. Whilst not a pure links course, NSW's rugged terrain combined with lightning fast greens demand the very best from a golfer both physically and mentally.
The stretch of holes from the 5th to the 7th is generally considered to be NSW's best. The par five 5th is a cracker with a blind drive over a hill. If the wind is a northerly, a good drive and a wedge will suffice but if it’s a southerly, you may need up to three woods to reach the green.
We then reach the world famous par three 6th with its back tee located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the wreck of the SS Minmi we soon realise that this hole can definitely wreck your scorecard. Sometimes we need to aim our tee-shot directly into the Pacific Ocean for it to move on the wind to reach the green. Such a shot requires the utmost in commitment, just like almost every shot here at NSW, because this course definitely punishes poor or off-line shots more than most other courses. The drive on the long uphill par four 7th is another that requires pin-point accuracy as the vegetation will capture any off-line shot and this green is one of the more treacherous on the course.
You will struggle to find a better collection of holes anywhere than the last six at New South Wales Golf Club, beginning with four par fours each of different character. The 13th and 14th are classic cliff-top doglegs and the drive through the 'saddle' on the up-hill 15th, along with the blind second shot, will certainly test your resolve - as will the difficult dogleg 16th. The exposed 17th is another fantastic par three where you miss the green at your peril. The closing par five requires three accurate shots and, hopefully, no more than two nervy putts on a wickedly deceptive green to conclude a truly memorable and exacting round of golf where the clubhouse provides the only respite from the elements.
NSW perennially rates in the Top 5 courses in Australia and in the world Top 50. And, whilst it has only hosted a few tournaments in its time, the professionals should consider themselves lucky that they aren't asked to tackle it more often. Some words of wisdom – when you play NSW for the first time, add at least five shots to your handicap before teeing off - you'll certainly have more chance of playing to this higher handicap.
Course description by Kevin Pallier.
Alister MacKenzie was born in England, but his parents were Scottish and the family holidayed every year close to where his father was raised in the traditional Clan MacKenzie lands of Sutherland.