Here is a golf resort without all the bells and whistles, and it’s a refreshing change and one worthy of a visit.
Kangaroo Valley Golf Course had been on my list of golf courses to play for quite some time. It is one of the lesser known courses in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, but I’ve met many golfers who speak very highly of it.
The drive into the resort is a great one. You drive past the first tee and the fourth green and up past the clubhouse. It’s a lush, evergreen sight and it’s difficult to keep driving wihtout stopping to play a few shots to reach our on-course accommodation.
The term ‘golf resort’ usually conjures up images of valet parking, wealthy septuagenarians and uninteresting golf courses, but Kangaroo Valley Resort couldn’t be any different. This is a golf course with a caravan park feel, which is truly a compliment. No stuffiness, no long socks and some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across.
“You might want to play late tomorrow, it’s going to be hot. Oh and I’d suggest taking a golf cart, it’s a hilly golf course.”
The bloke in the pro shop seemed to have underestimated my athleticism and perseverance in tough conditions. Not to mention my playing partner’s too. He’s a country lad at heart with a better beard than Lucas Glover, and he’s used to a long day in the sun.
But how right he was. Kangaroo Valley is a very hilly golf course. In the heat, the valley can become stifling and I’d be surprised if anyone is not a little sore after walking all 18 holes of this golf course.
We decided upon the cart and started out down a couple of straightforward par-4’s that give you a good taste of the undulation to come. It is around the 4th hole where I began to realise why the course is praised so much. Tee shot placement is vital to get a good shot at the green which is deceptively placed behind a pond that is blind from certain spots from the fairway.
The eighth hole reminded me of a scene from those old impossible golf calendars where artists draw greens and tees across impassable terrain.
From the tee, we had to double check we were hitting in the right direction, let alone hitting it straight. You play around 200 metres to a smallish landing area across a large valley. The second shot is again played across a valley to a largish green placed in the side of the hill.
The view from the back tee of the ninth hole is possibly one of the best in Australian golf. A long narrow fairway fits snugly between huge pines on either side. The view across the valley in all directions is a beautiful sight and is enough to forget about any potential double-bogey ahead of you.
A mob of kangaroos had gathered to see my drive. It added to the vista for me and I was careful (and lucky) enough to play through without perturbing the troop. My country lad playing partner thought nothing of the gathering. Where he comes from, these guys are vermin and were doing nothing but getting in the way.
Now late in the afternoon, we traded in our cart to walk the final few holes so the pro-shop staff could go home. After only six holes we were exhausted. Our gait walking down eighteen was stooped and slow and was no reflection on the golf.
Despite some good golf, the heat and hills had worn me down but I still couldn’t get enough of the golf course.The back nine is a great blend of holes that requires a full range of golf shots. It has some great short par-4’s such as 11, 13 and 15 that keep you on your toes off the tee. Interleaved are some long holes back up the hill that need some solid tee shots to ensure par is not out of the question.
Even the country lad was looking a little tired coming down the final hole. His look of contempt for the ‘roos had been replaced by one that yearned for a beer. One I recognised only too well.
So many golf courses are boring or difficult for the high handicapper. So many offer so little choice off the tees you may as well pre-program your round before you play. This golf course is not like that at all.
Kangaroo Valley Golf Course is not in Australia’s Top 100 golf courses and it doesn’t have green coloured sand to replace your divots. But its a great place for a golf weekend away. It has excellent on course accommodation, an large outdoor chess set and a wonderfully hilly golf course that is as close to a hidden gem as I’ve ever played.
Just make sure you get a cart.
Kangaroo Valley Golf Course is located in Kangaroo Valley, about a 2 hour drive south-west from Sydney.
Green fees: $35 midweek, $45 weekends.