The New South Wales Golf Club
To say that it has been a dream of ours to play at The New South Wales Golf Club would be an understatement. Literally! In fact, I again dreamt about playing here the night before our tee time. But in my dream, I had reversed the fifth and sixth holes. The world-famous par 5 fifth was the sixth in my dream, which made the par 3 play prior. In my dream, we parked our buggy and walked with our putters to the green. After putting out on the par 3, I didn’t know that we would need our driver and had to run all the way back to the buggy to get them. Reversing the holes. Forgetting our drivers. Having a buggy. I realize now that this was more of a nightmare than a dream!
More Spectacular Views Than Any Place
“At Sydney, I made an entirely new course for the New South Wales Golf Club at a place called La Perouse. This presents, I think, more spectacular views than any place I know with the possible exception of the new Cypress Point golf course in California.” Alister MacKenzie, May 1927. Mr. MacKenzie is credited with the original routing and bunkering of NSWGC back in 1926, but the golf course has gone through many changes in the past nearly century. The most significant of these changes occurred during WWII when the Army used the land for military purposes.
Mr. Tom Doak has been called in recently to make some more changes, with the goal to remake some of the changes that have altered MacKenzie’s original plan. After our round, we had a look at some of Doak’s plans that hang in Clubhouse.
Consistently ranked in the top 100 in the world, NSWGC plays 6830-yards, par 72 from the Blue tees, and a very long 6052-yards from the Red tees. It was late fall and rain had fallen hard the night before. So, we slide our rain jackets into our Jones bags and went inside the stately Clubhouse.
With unending views of the course and out to the Tasman Sea that are indeed spectacular, we toured the Clubhouse and enjoyed a coffee. Afterward, we went down to hit some balls on the practice range and met Cameron, our gracious host. You probably know him on Instagram as The Golf Labyrinth.
With that beautiful Clubhouse looking down on you, the opening tee shot at NSWGC can be very intimidating! With butterflies flying uncontrollably in our stomachs, we made a silent prayer to the golfing gods, and away we went! Our dream was about to come true!
The 416-yard par 4 third hole should be named blind faith because as you stand on the tee, blind faith is what is required. I still had butterflies in my stomach when we reached the tee box. Hidden from view is the fairway that doglegs almost 90 degrees straight left. On our gracious host’s advice, I hit a 3 wood over the short trees left and drew it, surprisingly exactly where Cameron wanted. It was another intimidating tee shot, but one that I am happy to report that was executed to perfection! Without his knowledge, I never would have aimed that far left off the tee!
Menekse absolutely crushed one of the best tee shots I have ever seen her hit! Her smooth swing resulted in her ball making it past the crest of the fairway, rolling all the way to the bottom of the hill.
Depending on if you can make it down the hill or not, your uphill approach shot will need to navigate 2 small but treacherous bunkers that protect the right side of the green. With the bunkers as my target, I hit a mid-iron that landed softly on, pin high. Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t able to convert on my first birdie opportunity of the day.
No words, especially ours, can adequately describe the fifth hole at New South Wales. One of the most photographed holes in the world, the 512-yard par 5 is simply spectacular! Striping another tee shot, I found the centre of the fairway but did not quite reach the top of the hill. Walking past my tee ball, I first saw the view that I have been dreaming about all these years!
Menekse rocked another tee shot down the right side of the fairway, out-driving me again. And from her vantage point, she had the ultimate view down the beautiful fairway. Us walking down the fifth fairway holding hands is one of my most cherished golf memories!
Afraid of pulling a fairway wood, I elected to hit an iron that would put me somewhere closer to a preferred 90-yards in. Nevertheless, I slightly pulled my 5 iron into the light rough left of the fairway but had a great line. Left with a 52-degree in, I wasn’t able to get it close enough to offer myself a legitimate birdie opportunity.
And Sixth Holes are what Dreams are made of
Walking across a narrow bridge over the ocean to an island tee box, the unforgettable 202-yard par 3 sixth awaits. From one of the most impressive views on the golf course, you must cross the ocean again to the green in the distance.
Cameron told us that Mr. Doak has slightly redesigned the hole, easing the front of the green that “used to be impossible”. Ready for the challenge, I made a swing that felt really good. Making solid contact, my ball landed what appeared to be close to the pin but found its way to the back of the green.
Perhaps intimated by the view out to the Tasman Sea, Menekse pushed her tee shot right of the long narrow target. After putting out, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t actually dreaming!
The fifth and sixth at NSWGC were even better than any of our dreams! And they have been added to our list of the greatest golf holes in the world!
The Greatest Four Consecutive Par 4’s in the World
Our host made the audaciously bold comment that thirteen through sixteen are the greatest four consecutive par fours in the world! With an envious resume of world top 100 courses, we believed him and were eager to find out for ourselves.
Thirteen and Fourteen
First up was the 410-yard slight dogleg left thirteenth. Cameron pointed to a flagpole in the distance down the right side of the fairway tee as the best target. I started it towards the target but wasn’t able to draw it and left it down the right side. Meanwhile, Menekse ripped another tee shot and she walked with purposeful stride on the short grass down the left.
Make sure to take enough club for your approach as the green is protected by three bunkers, two left and one right.
Fourteen is a 353-yarder that also moves right to left, which has a huge undulating fairway. There is a cart path down the right side that Cameron indicated as the best target. Menekse’s tee shot started out right but caught the slope of the fairway. We watched it roll all the way down the hill, finally coming to rest in the left side rough. Cameron said that Doak is critical of this fairway, because of that huge swale.
Fifteen and Sixteen
The number one handicap uphill 407-yard fifteenth bends a little right and might have been my favourite of the four. With generous fairway mounding, Cameron said to hit one down the saddle, which Menekse executed to perfection!
Tired, but trying my best to continue to grind out pars, I pulled my tee shot a little left. As I arrived at my ball, I found that I had a great view of the green from that angle. As we putt out, Cameron mentioned that Doak’s vision here is to move the green about one green width to the right. Doak says that it would give more movement to the hole, which is true. And we say that the views from the new green out to the sea will be outstanding!
At 441-yards and a sweeping dogleg left with plenty of room right, sixteen is the final of the quartet. It was the final quarter, and both Menekse and I were tired. She pulled her tee shot down the left, while I blocked mine well right.
Left with a long iron into a narrow green, I made another tired swing that left me well short. Faced with a wedge of unforgiving yardage, I pitched well long of the pin. I gave the putt a good effort, but par wasn’t to be, and I settled for my second bogey of the four holes.
With shots that turn you in every direction, the wind needs to be considered on all of the par 4’s. And with flat and uphill and downhill, with some sidehill lies sprinkled in, every possible angle was presented. Factor in some of the best views on the golf course and Cameron was absolutely right. These 4 holes are the greatest four consecutive par 4’s that we’ve ever played!
Just Incredible Golf
Arriving at New South Wales Golf Club, our expectations were high, and we can confidently report that they were exceeded! NSWGC has it all! With one of the most impressive Clubhouses in the game and 2 of the greatest holes that we have ever played, NSW is a MUST on your Golf in Australia travels. It easily is one of our favourite golf courses in the world!
Checking the scorecard, we both played much better on the back nine than we did on the front. I had 2 birdies to go with two bogies to finish the back even, and a satisfying 77 for the day. Menekse also played much better on the back, shaving a full 5 strokes off her front nine!
We could not have asked for a better host than Cameron. His love of the game and particularly the love of his home Club was infectious. Listening to his stories of playing many of the world’s greatest courses was inspiring, especially for a pair of traveling golfers. And he easily saved us at least 3 or 4 shots with his course extensive knowledge. Thank you for the incredible experience Cameron, we are forever grateful for your hospitality! You made our dreams come true!
Little did we know walking off the eighteenth that we would go into lockdown, and it would be another 73 days before we would play golf again.