Gold Coast: A golfing mecca and more affordable than ever
By Paul Gueorgieff
Golfer Pacific editor
Thinking of heading to the Gold Coast in Queensland for a winter golf trip?
Not sure where to play?
I can help. I was there in April and have been there many times beforehand.
First let me say that many venues that I did not play on my latest visit are often advertised in this magazine. I have played virtually all of the courses that are regularly advertised and all are very fines courses.
Second let me say that many venues on the Sunshine Coast, to the north of Brisbane, are also advertised in this magazine. Once again I have played most of them and without exception they are excellent courses.
This is simply a recount of the courses I played last April to provide a little insight if you are considering a Gold Coast golf trip.
I must mention at this point the main purpose of the trip was a golf tournament, but it was essentially a social event.
I was part of a group of 15 golfers, all from my Tuesday club gathering, plus another 10 wives. These were numbers I was extremely proud of considering we were all from the one golf club and I must pass on my congratulations to Tom Parsons who organised us.
The tournament was played at Royal Pines. We played there four times, once for a practice round and the other three times for the tournament proper.
Royal Pines has undergone some significant changes recently and the changes certainly don’t make the course easier.
There are 27 holes at Royal Pines and we played what is known as the green nine and the gold nine. Unfortunately the tournament was generally played from the blue tees which was too tough for the type of players in the tournament.
Royal Pines is a tough course. A very tough course.
Let me put this into perspective for you. The Australian PGA was played at Royal Pines last December and the winning score after four rounds was par. That is very unusual for a fully fledged professional tournament where the winning score is often around 12 under par or better.
On virtually every hole you are confronted by water or bunkers, or often both, from either the tee or approaching the green, or, once again, both.
But adding to the difficulty is that most of the greens are raised and most have shelves and that means run-offs. From my experience the run-offs could easily be into bunkers or water.
My scores on all four days at Royal Pines were poor or very poor. My first reaction to this course was I would never return. But it didn’t take me long to change my mind. I want to go back and get my revenge. I want to go back and try, at least, to post a fair score.
My advice is if you go to Royal Pines, don’t play off tees too long for your ability. The course is tough enough.
The first two courses we played casually are two of my old Gold Coast favourites. They are Palmer Gold Coast (better known as it’s previous name of Robina Woods) and Palmer Colonial.
I have played both these courses numerous times and neither has diminished in my liking for them.
One of the features of Robina Woods (sorry that’s how I best know the course) is that a good number of holes are totally secluded — you cannot see anyone else on the course other than those on the hole you are playing. There are plenty of bunkers and water is common.
Colonial has it’s similarities to Robina Woods, except water comes into play far more often. If you stray off the tee you can more than likely say goodbye to your golf ball.
Another course we played was Palm Meadows. I hadn’t played Palm Meadows before but yet another fine golf course. Once again plenty of bunkers and water, although the water was not as dominant as it is at Colonial.
Unfortunately we played Palm Meadows on a Sunday afternoon, a day when I presume they get a lot of casual golfers. Consequently it took me five minutes to get out of every bunker — one minute to play my one shot to get out and the next four minutes raking the whole of the bunker which, seemingly, everyone before me had not bothered doing so.
Later, from another fairway, I noticed a player who was about to walk away from a bunker without raking it after he played out of it.
I yelled out and he sheepishly returned to the bunker before making a pathetic attempt to rake it.
Perhaps one of the main attractions of Royal Pines, Robina Woods, Colonial and Palm Meadows are they are all very close to Surfers’ Paradise. All are no more than 20 minutes’ drive from Surfers’ Paradise which is not long considering the traffic is often very busy.
The fourth course we played was a good half-hour away. It was Gainsborough Greens and it is perhaps more of a members’ course. What I mean by that is more of the players are probably members than visitors.
But this is another very good course. It’s closing holes are very difficult because of the presence of water.
The 18th is a good example. It’s a par five which requires the third shot to carry a big stretch of water to reach the green.
That means the second shot needs to be as close to the water as possible to reduce the distance of the third shot.
The fifth course we played was Nudgee in Brisbane. This course is literally five minutes drive from Brisbane International airport and because of that we played on the day before catching the 7pm flight back to Wellington. In other words it fits in perfectly to the travel schedule. Once again another fine course. I would happily play this course every time I am returning home from Brisbane.
I haven’t mentioned any prices. Royal Pines was part of our tournament entry fee but the advertised cost is $A150.
Three of the courses we played were all under $A50 and all included a cart for two people. Another course was under $A40 because of a reciprocal arrangement with our golf club and another was under $A30 because of deal going at the time. I came to conclusion that green fees on the Gold Coast have reduced greatly from a few years ago.
The Gold Coast is really a golfing mecca and is probably now more affordable than ever.