Professional golf has returned Riverside Oaks and the place is heading back in the right direction.
The 2014 Nanshan NSW PGA Championship has teed off at Riverside Oaks. The tournament makes a welcome return to a golf course that was at one stage considered to be one of the best places to play golf in New South Wales.
Riverside Oaks Golf Resort is situated about an hour and a half drive out of Sydney and at one stage played host to some very big tournament in the late 80s/early 90s. Players were often helicoptered in for the event, big name players such as Greg Norman. Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, David Graham and Fred Couples.
Greg Norman won the now defunct PGA National Tournament Players Championship here in 1988 and 1989. The victories from Norman bookended a four-hole playoff loss to Wayne Grady for the 1988 Australian PGA Championship – again held at Riverside Oaks. Peter Senior won the Australian PGA Championship at the same venue in 1989 and Brett Ogle to the honours in 1990.
So that course was a big deal and was planned to become a centre-piece of Australian golf. Upon completion, the clubhouse, top-notch service and underground parking was unlike anything previously built in Australia. But it all went downhill from there.
For many reasons, Riverside Oaks fell out of favour with players and the PGA of Australia, the course lost much of its charm and few big tournament have been played there since.
But there has been a resurgence under new owners. The opening of the new Bob Harrison designed “Bungool” golf course (actually built on the riverside) has received some good early praise and will no doubt play host to a big tournament for itself at some stage. (We will go check it out early in 2015).
However, this week’s Nanshan NSW PGA Championship is being played on the old “Gangarru” golf course with a pretty good field including young guns Geoff Drakeford, Daniel Valente and Josh Younger.
There is a good vibe about Riverside Oaks again and is worth checking out for yourself. Starting with this week’s NSW PGA Championship.