Royal Canberra is the newest of the ‘Royal’ courses in Australia, the original now lying under Lake Burley Griffin. Commander John Harris routed the clubs new course in the early 1960’s and many have likened it to Augusta National. It is undulating in the fashion of Augusta and many holes are lined with pines, but that is where any resemblance ends. Principle features of Augusta include hugely wide fairways, a preference for expanses of short grass around the greens and brilliant strategies.
The fairways at Royal Canberra are narrow and lined with rough, so many of the short shots from around the greens are played out of long grass. It is not so long as to make chipping particularly difficult, but it is long enough to take away almost all options except a lofted wedge.
It is difficult to create the strategies so perfectly implemented at Augusta and Royal Melbourne if width is not a predominant feature of the design. The club is to rebuild all three of their nines, beginning after the Australian Women’s Open in 2013. The key to the success of the task is to retain the beautiful feel of playing golf at Royal Canberra whilst coming closer to the form golf so perfectly exemplified at two of the world’s great courses.