Gerringong Golf Club
Rich Peterson would love Gerringong Golf Club. Who is Mr. Peterson you wonder? He was the store manager at the local IGA grocery store where I worked for my very first job and a huge influence on me. The customer was king in Mr. Peterson’s world, and everything he did was with the customer in mind. He instilled this attitude in me. Pack the customer’s groceries in bags and take them out to the car with a smile. No matter if it was one bag or ten, I tried my very best to make the customer happy.
So, what does Mr. Peterson have to do with Gerringong Golf Club you’re probably still asking yourself? Well, making the customer happy!
Making the Customer Happy!
Located about 2 hours south of Sydney, we must admit that Gerringong wasn’t on our golfing radar. After playing The New South Wales Golf Club, our intention was to travel rather quickly down the South Coast and head to Tasmania so we could play golf before the cool weather set in.
However, it was March of 2020 and COVID-19 had other plans for us as it did for the rest of the world! And so, during lockdown, Menekse and I were forced to take a flat in Jervis Bay. Days turned into weeks and weeks quickly turned into months. During the early stages, we would call Mollymook Golf Club to find out if golf was considered “essential” or not. One day it was, but the following day it wasn’t.
Somewhere between Tic Tok and Netflix binges, I found some time to do what I often do, searching Google Maps for golf courses. Located directly at the ocean, I found Gerringong Golf Club a mere half hour from our flat.
We decided to call just to ask if they were open. Shane must have taken a liking to my Yank accent as we chatted, sharing our golf journey stories with him. He took our name and number and said that he would call us back once the club opened. Hanging up, I really didn’t have any expectations for a return call and probably went back to something less productive.
True to his word, about a month later we received a phone call from Shane letting us know that the Club was about to open for public play! But since it was moving into fall, we now had to wait on the weather to cooperate with the great news. Didn’t the weather realise that we hadn’t played golf in 73 days?!
Red Then Yellow
As we arrived, sure enough, we were immediately warmly greeted by Shane! We thanked him again for the return call and chatted about the “unprecedented” recent events, and how it impacted our plans as well as his business. We inquired about the course and the Club and asked him if he had any advice for first-time players. He said the layout could pose a challenge for your first round. Just keep in mind that the front nine has red flags and the back nine yellow. And try not to get distracted by the views he added!
Gerringong Golf Club is an 18-hole course that plays 6172-yards par 72 from the Blue markers. As we stepped on to the first tee, a pelican glided quietly above us, which we took as an omen of promising things to come! After not swinging a club for so long, we made great opening tee shots, both finding the middle of the fairway. But more importantly, we were finally playing golf again after a 73-day delay!
In order to take advantage of the side hill, aim left of the green on the 160-yard uphill par 3 second. I missed the green left, but just as we predicted it finished right of the flag leaving an easy par. We could hear the crashing waves as Menekse made a nice stroke for her par.
The 562-yard downhill dogleg left par 5 fourth hole completely encloses Walkers Beach. On the tee, there was a lake that divided the fairway short and long, and I wasn’t sure what to hit. I hit driver which cleared the lake and came to rest on the right side of the fairway. The lake however was too far for Menekse to carry, so she played it smart and laid up short.
Still a long way to an uphill green, I hit a 3 wood that felt really good leaving the face. Walking up the hill, we were surprised to find a second lake! Afraid that my Titleist could be wet, I was happy to find it halfway between the lake and the green. Knowing what we know now, I never would have played that shot. In retrospect, it would almost be safer to play the entire hole down onto Walker’s Beach!
A Change of Weather
The 348-yard slight dogleg right par 4 fifth continues up the hill that you started on four. With the ocean left, Menekse pulled her tee shot, no doubt to get a better look, while I found the right side of the fairway. With 135 yards remaining to an uphill green, I hit an 8-iron a full club short! There are two beautiful looking bunkers that guard the green short right. And luckily, I was short of both.
The weather changed on the 534-yard par 5 sixth hole. Clouds covered the sun that we were enjoying, and a small breeze became cool quite quickly. My back that felt surprisingly loose early in the round tightened. I hit a poor 3 wood off the tee that fell well short of the pond below. I realize then that I could have hit more club off the tee. Or, at least I could have hit it better! Menekse made a good swing off the tee, but because of the cool wind that came up, the sixth ended up being her last hole.
The 465-yard par 5 eleventh is a long downhill slight dogleg right. I hit driver down the left side that tailed off with a nice cut. We didn’t see it land, but it must have rolled forever because we found it all the way at the bottom of the hill, and only 89 yards in. From there, I hit a 54-degree wedge to the middle of the green, staying well away from the suckers’ pin that was located upfront. I left my eagle putt well short but was very satisfied with a 2-putt birdie.
By the time we reached the 185-yard long par 3 fourteenth, the sun was beginning its descent. With the sun in my eyes, I pulled a five-iron pin-high but left of the green. With a good lie in the long rough, I tend to leave these shots short. But I hit a good chip that ran past the cup. Unfortunately, I missed the putt and settled for my sixth consecutive four on the scorecard.
Keep an eye out for Whales!
As we arrived at the course, a member asked if we had seen any whales. We kept our eyes open while playing but didn’t have any luck. Not until we arrived at the 394-yard sixteenth. Something caught the corner of my eye as I stepped on the tee. Turning quickly, I saw a waterspout disappearing on the horizon. Sadly, Menekse unfortunately didn’t see it.
It was our first round with the new COVID-19 pins, and I putted really well considering it was our first time playing in what seemed forever. With the pins in, I felt that I could be more aggressive. Especially from 10 feet and in. While I didn’t make them all, it felt like I could have!
I started the back with 7 consecutive fours and finished the final two holes in 6 and 3. With 2 birdies to go with 3 bogeys, I tallied up a very satisfying 74! Gerringong Golf Club was fantastic, and a much more difficult challenge than we were ready for after our long break. But most important, it was so wonderful to be finally out playing golf again! Gerringong absolutely made us, the customer, happy!