Danny Bowerin was hopping mad about having to ride carts around The Pines at Sanctuary Cove, he was in good company at this Queensland golf resort.
I like to walk, I wanted to walk, but, after three days of a stag weekend, my fourball was more interested in pressing the pedal than perspiring. The Pines is a resort course and while there are cart paths galore it is simply a sublime test of golf.
With a bit of luck, you’ll experience the local weather – “beautiful one day, perfect the next” goes the saying. I came away from a stunning day wishing I could find another 30 yards off the tee to tame it, but it was one of the most memorable golfing experiences of my life and surely among the very best Queensland has to offer.
Measuring over 7,300 yards, the only Arnold Palmer signature golf course in Australia is quite rightly rated by the Australian Golf Union as one of the country’s most challenging courses. Fourteen of the holes are contoured around six man-made lakes, and the course features one of the great closing holes in golf.
Up close and personal with the roos
It also provides an up-close-and-personal experience with the local wildlife. It has to be said the kangaroos watching on seemed wholly unimpressed by my ball striking, but at least they didn’t laugh at my putting.
Beware though, this course could easily lull you into a false sense of security and getting off to a good start is definitely achievable. The course has a reasonably gentle opening, featuring wide fairways and a solid Par 3 in the opening five holes.
Then the fun begins. The sixth is a fantastic par 4, demanding a precise tee shot of more than 240 yards to leave you with the short iron you will want in your hands for an approach over water to a green that slopes towards you.
The seventh is equally stunning, again over water, and a back-left pin position will demand a well struck high draw to secure your Par 3, before you move to the eighth tee – where the course really starts to shows its teeth.
Quite simply, you need to bomb it long and straight off the tee on the next three holes to give yourself a chance, and be sure not to miss right off the ninth or tenth tees. If you can successfully negotiate those holes, there’s plenty more challenge to come. Your work is far from done.
The Par 5 11th offers a birdie opportunity, but a creek snakes in and out of the fairway and crosses in front of the green, so think carefully about how you plot your way to the green. Arguably though, the two best holes come in the last six.
Talking Point #13
The thirteenth is one of the most photographed and talked about holes in Australia and you can’t fail to see why. Take an extra club so you don’t suffer the disappointment I did of watching a well stuck long iron plunge into the water agonisingly short of the green.
Get your three and get the hell out of there would be my advice – but it is a truly stunning hole with a tough green, and it’s very intimidating all round. Stepping onto the final tee will make you realise the 18th is not to be messed with.
It features a lake all along the left, yet the hole requires you to hit a draw – so be brave.
There’s no bail out right either, and just keeping the ball in play will be an achievement for the higher handicapper. When I played, the pin was tucked on the left, requiring another draw, this time from the fairway, with no margin for error once again. If you can finish with a four, you’ll enjoy your beer in the splendid clubhouse.
All that is left to say is hit it long, hit it straight and putt well and you’ll be fine. If you can’t manage all that, enjoy the sunshine and the scenery and give the kangaroos something to laugh at!