Entries Tagged as 'Nullarbor Links'

The Longest Golf course in the World

Balladonia FairwayIf you are serious about your golf you must play this course.  Do not try to play it without a buggy/car. The holes are not long, but the distances between holes can be up to 200 kilometres. Stretching between Kalgoorlie and Ceduna (or Ceduna  and Kalgoorlie if you start in the east) the course is made up of a variety of holes strategically located on the Nullarbor Highway. Many are ‘purpose built’ holes while seven are on pre-existing courses at Kalgoorlie, Kambalda, Norseman and Ceduna.

Ball striking needs to be crisp and clean, and allowances must be  made for the unpredictability of the bounce. In a little bit of sand there will be no run, hit some hard pan or rock and you may have a seriously challenging recovery shot to play.  On the fairways preferred lies (within a club length) may be taken. A portable mat is available to protect your clubs, but off the fairway it is play the ball as it lies, with local rules protecting native vegetation .  It is not clear how a 15 cm preferred lie will protect the native vegetation that is on the fairways.

Kalgoorlie – Hannans Golf CourseKalgoorlie Kangas

1st = Hannans 10th.  Par 4.

A 350 metre slight dogleg left this is a straightforward hole. Best position is right of centre off the tee which opens up the approach to a flat sand green.  My visit followed an overnight storm in Kalgoorlie. The ‘green’ was firm and flat, but the scraper was no where to be seen.  Kangaroos along the fairway added to the  experience and distracted from the swarms of small ants that were active the rain.

Kalgoorlie 2 DSCF56962nd = Hannans 18th. Par 4.

This downhill par 4 is ostensibly shorter than the first, yet the local markers tell a different story unless you play from the yellow forward tee. Opting for the back markers means the tee shot must clear the short trees about 60 meters from the markers, or be directed to their left and faded back to the fairway.  Trees along that side provide a few challenges if you then fail to get the needed shape on your ball. The ‘green’ slopes gently towards the front and here short is best.

Kambalda

3rd = Kambalda’s first hole. Par 4.

The Nullarbor card reads 392 metres, local signage says 400 metres. What’s a few metres between friends?

A good drive is required off the tee on this log dogleg left. The best drive is over the tree on the left of the fairway (about 180 metre carry) which will set up a short iron to the green.  Anything further right or short will demand a very good long iron shot to a green protected left and right by dirt mounds some ten meters short of the green.  Once on the green judgement of distance is key. These sand greens are slower than Kalgoorlie, and the challenge is to strike the putt hard enough to make the distance.

Norseman

4th = Norseman’s 1st Par 4.

The legend reads 346 metres. Looking down the fairway that is hard to believe. After playing the two holes it is clearly a mistake. Maybe the original plan called for it, but this is the 436m hole  that is next on the card. It is another dogleg left where the best drive is on the right of the fairway. A drive too close to the left will require a long second shot over tree to the green where the next challenge begins. This is the first of the artificial greens and distance judgement here is crucial. A nice fringe of about a metre is provided, but the putting surface itself can be a little slick, especially compared to the sand greens.

5th = Norseman’s 18th Par 4.  436m.

This hole is only 346 meters. Here the best position is left of the fairway – go too long down the right and scrub awaits. A look at the green reveals one of the great challenges of this course. Each approach requires courage, judgment and luck. Around the green and approach is a  metre of sand, clearly part of the base on which the green was laid. Land in it and the ball may stop dead, land on the green, and it is likely to bouce through. Fortunately there are no bukners here. There is enough sand around this green to make them unnecessary. The good thing is the preferred  lie and the portable ‘fairway’ on which to place your ball.

Fraser Range.

6th  Par 3 141m.

First of the par 3’s this is a little downhiller with no hazards to see. Beware,  there is a dry creek bed over the back. Play short of the green as a well struck shot will continue down the hill much further than you might expect.  Once on the green the surface is slick. The slight rise developing aournd the cups means that putts must still be struck firmly if they are to go into the hole, so even little downhill putts can be treacherous.

Balladonia

7th Par 3 175m

A straight shot with a carry of 165 meters will put your ball around the green. Anything else and there is fun to be had. Piles of dead trees right and left guard the green, with a ‘generous’ 10 metre opening available to run the ball through. Trees to left and right of the green, a road, and saltbush behind complete the secutiry system for this little ripper of a hole. The artifical green is fairly level, and a nice respite after bush bashing.

Caiguna

8th Par 4 310 m.Caiguna Approach

A small tree in the middle of the fairway marks the line, play your tee shot a little to the left and you will be in good shape for the second.  Two hundred meters on this line is to long, so the shot needs to be drawn around the corner, or played to the fairway you can see.  Hit your tee shot too and the scrub awaits. Take my advice – lay up off the tee.  Playing the second to the green may still require negotiating a few small stands of trees that add character to the hole, and prevent an off line bump and run from getting anywhere near the hole.

Cocklebiddy

9th Par 4 347 m.

After the demanding tee shots of the previous two holes this is a piece of cake, if you can clear the 170 metres of grass the sits between you and the fairway. Don’t worry too much, the grass is spindly and sparse, and gives way to a flat neatly groomed dirt fairway that will offer metres of roll to a well struck drive. The green has an extended fringe (about three metres). It was the first two tiered green I encountered. Naturally enough the hole is placed in the back left third of the green which requires a chip or putt up over a slight ridge. After previous experience on these greens the challenge is magnified. Just how hard do you hit this approach shot?

Nullarbor Links 2

Border Village

13th Par 3 160 metres
Starting near the big kangaroo this par three requires a sound tee shot through the narrow fairway. The elongated green has space at the back for the long shot, but trouble awaits on the right hand side.  Sand blown over the back of the green will slow the putt or chip on this two-tier green

Nullarbor Roadhouse
14th Par 5 538 metres

Keeping the drive on the fairway is a challenge when playing into a headwind. The fairway narrows and turns right at about 200 metres. A rabbit warren located on a good line at about 220 metres offers a good target.  Left and right of the fairway the saltbush awaits, with limestone rocks also on the right.  Once on the green your troubles are over if you can putt. This long hole is made very difficult if you play military golf,  i.e. left, right, left, right!

Nundroo Roadhouse
1Nundroo search5th Par 5 520 metres
Carved out of the paddock adjoining the roadhouse this challenging par 5 requires a strong tee shot up the rise, and a well placed second. From the tee two trees hide a bank set to trap a long drive down the right hand side of the fairway. A 200 metre drive should clear the trees, and the result is then dependent on the bounce of the ball. For the second over the rise it will be best to have a spotter, as trees are again aligned to trap or block the result of a good shot. About 20 metres short of the green a narrow furrow of rocks crosses the fairway creating some danger for a bump and run approach shot.

Penong
16th Par 4 260 metres
Distances can be deceiving, and this uphill hole plays shorter than it looks. Good run on the fairway give a good drive the chance to reach the green if the trees that shape the fairway can be avoided.
The hole is on the site of the old Penong Golf Course, but there is no evidence that this was once the local links.

Ceduna
17th Par 5 485 metres
Back on to a golf course for the final holes this straight par 5 offers welcome relief. A good drive will finish short of the narrowing portion, but there is danger behind the sand green. Grass in front is spongy and will hold the ball well, as will the soft sand green. Putting on these surfaces requires the confidence to strike the ball firmly, no small task after 13 holes of the slick artificial turf.

18th Par 4 370 metres.
Out of bounds on the right, trees on the left and a fairway in between. Hoping for a good finish the drive needs to hit the fairway or the green will be out of reach when a southerly breeze is in play. Again the grass around the green will hold the ball and any approach needs to be struck with confidence and firmness.

And that’s it, apart from a trip to the local visitor centre to get your Certificate.

The world’s longest golf course – 1395 kilometres. It took four days – and all of them were warm. As the round progressed the temperature increased.  As we crossed the Nullarbor the temperature was unseasonably warm, but 40 degrees is manageable when you pay one hole at a time, and can retreat to the local roadhouse for a cold drink before jumping into an air-conditioned car.

It was a great experience that I would recommend to any golfer.  Just don’t take it too seriously, just enjoy the journey and have fun.

Now… I wonder how much it would cost to entice Tiger Woods to play a round?