Entries Tagged as 'South Australia'

The challenge continues!

It is some time since I posted – and my golf has continued to progress (and periodically regress) over the last few years.

Gawler 4thOver the last few years  my golf has improved, and I AM hitting the ball better and am capable of better scores. For a brief period of one week a handicap of 1.0 was achieved – and then back to a playing handicap of 2.While manageable on my home course the challenge of playing on other a new track, and playing close to my handicap, is still great.

With the opportunity to play in the South Australian Senior Amateur came a chance to test the “new and improved” game in a different setting. After three competition rounds it became clear that home ground advantage is great, and playing on a  variety of courses under competition conditions is important to raise the standard of your game.

Gawler Golf Club, at Sandy Creek in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, is a sandbelt  country course,with kikuyu fairways and well maintained greens.

Gawler 2013Unusually each nine starts with a par 5  (parallel holes). And there is one quirky hole – the 8th. A blind tee shot over a rise to a narrowing fairway is the  most unusual, and perhaps the worst aspect of the course design. Despite this it is an interesting hole.

The 8th was difficult but manageable. Three rounds – bogey, par, birdie.  Any drive over 200 metres needs to hug the right of the narrowing fairway or it will run into the rough down the hill on the left. The approach, from a downhill lie, needs to be right of the flag to avoid bunkers on the left, and  stay on the left sloping green. Once on the green the problems are not over. Any putt over about three feet is easily miss-able.  My par was the result of a missed four foot putt, the birdie a 12 metre putt, left breaking about 8 feet and running down the hill! Go figure!

Gawler 10thThe ‘easy’ par 5’s (at less that 450 metres) proved difficult. No bunkers, but a well placed second shot is needed to be in a position to see down the hill to see the small greens that seem to slope away toward the back.  Despite being capable of reaching these greens easily in three my score against par for the 6 times I played these holes was 7 over!

While scoring better on the shortest hole on the course (4th Par 3 97 metres downhill) three putts on two occasions on this vast green did not help my overall result.

At the end of the competition I walked away in 19th place, and ranked 219 on the Australian Seniors Order of Merit from my one Seniors event for 2013.


What did I learn from the experience?

  1. Good driving and high Fairways in Regulation % does not guarantee good scores.
  2. The short game is king…. too many three putts doesn’t help your score or confidence
  3. A few good holes is not enough to have a good score. Day 2 included a 7 over nine, with two triple bogeys!
  4. Confidence is vital.
  5. A home club handicap is not a true reflection of a golfers capability.
  6. In the end it is only a game.




Murray Bridge Golf Course

A big green on a short hole

Murray Bridge 10th Green

A post Christmas bonus was a return to Murray Bridge Golf Course where I commenced my love affair with golf.  Two years as a caddie introduced me to the game and provided an understanding and appreciation of etiquette and the rules of the game. At age 15 I was then old enough to join the members in the regular competition.   My earliest recollections of the course were of six greens and twelve scrapes,  year round preferred lies (most fairways had little grass), and small trees scattered along the sides of the f airways.  With a par of 68 it was a short course, and it was all I knew of golf courses.

Over the years the course has changed, and for at least a dozen of those years my father was the superintendent.  With the help of passionate local members trees were planted, new greens added, and the watering system improved.

With par still at 68 remains short and vulnerable to big hitters.  Despite its benign appearance it still requires good golf to score well. Water hazards have been added, the trees have grown, and the greens are small. The boundary fence sits close to six holes.  Grass coverage on the fairways is good, the greens ran at good speed and putted truly  and the course is well maintained.  It was a pleasure to play the course again. It is worth going out of your way to play a different style of course along the Murray River.

One of the holes that epitomises the course is the par 4 1oth. At just over 300 metres it looks like a great birdie hole. A drive and a short pitch would do the trick.  Think again! Trees line the fairway and offer a narrow 30 metre gap before opening out in front of the green. The risk is high, the reward is low.  Although it is among the largest of the greens the 10th sheltered by trees and surrounded by bunkers. Shaping a second through the gap and onto the green still carries risk.  The key to this hole is a straight tee shot, and 180 metres is all that is required from the blocks. Anything less than that makes what should be an easy hole into a challenge. At 306 metres this hole is rated a the 5th most difficult on the course.  Golf holes don’t have to be long to offer a challenge.