September 17, 2012
This summer of Australian tour events celebrate golf on some of the countries best courses. Three of the four biggest tournaments in Australian golf this summer have been or will be held on courses we have either consulted at or have extensively modified.
The inaugural Perth International was played at Lake Karrinyup with Bo Van Pelt taking the inaugural title, The Australian Open returns for the third year to The Lakes in Sydney and the Australian Masters is back at Kingston Heath.
Since Tiger Woods’ win in 2009 the Kingston Heath have, with our advice, added some length to a course that was once one of the longest in the world. In the early 1930s Kingston Heath was an extraordinary 6832 yards long but with modern clubs and balls less interesting courses must resort to holes adding up to 7500 yards in order to test the best players.
There are new tees at the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 13th and 18th holes and allied with the tees at the 1st, 4th and 16th tees that were built for 2009, the course is now 7200 yards and firmly resisting the accusations of obsolescence that dog some many of the games great old courses. Of course the only ones making some of the great holes obsolete, if the original intent is the measure, are the best professionals and that only underlines the importance of regulating equipment at the highest levels of the game. The week before the Open Championship at Lytham, Geoff and Mike played the wondrous West Course at Royal Melbourne. It is barely 6700 yards long but Geoff, armed with a 1998 Batata covered ball and a persimmon driver, played a much different course than the one (12 holes from the West make up the Composite Course) he faced in last summers Presidents Cup.
Who could believe one the best players in the world would be hitting a five iron into the 6th green, a 2 iron into the 11th and not be able to carry the heath in front of the 435 metre par five, 12th hole with two woods? To see the course play somewhat close to the way Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell intended only highlighted how critical it is for administrators to regulate the flight of the ball.
The last time top level professional golf was played at Karrinyup was in 2002 and 2003 ago when Retief Goosen and Ernie Els respectively won Johnnie Walker Classics. Since we have rebuilt all the greens and bunkers, added some back tees and taken out the necessary trees that had over-crowded Alex Russell’s original playing lines. Karrinyup is by some way the hilliest of Australia’s best courses. The downhill short par four opener and the uphill 290 metre 14th is as strategically vexing as the best sub 300 metre par fours on the Melbourne sandbelt.
The Lakes is another year on from our 2007/2008 rebuild and another year is never a bad thing for a new and maturing course. The back tee at the over the water par 5 14th hole will be in play and that will make for a much different test on a hole that only really played as a long par four in the 2010 and 2011 championships.
Geoff won the 2010 Open and was fourth last year. The course is ideally suited to his game and his play will be worthy of observation because the holes give him – and the rest – the necessary freedom to play with some abandon from the tees. That alone makes tournament golf in Australia a more interesting proposition that the one we see too often from other parts of the world where the one-dimensional answer to challenging these guys is to make narrow fairways bordered by long grass.
We hope that all the changes to the remaining tournament courses are as well received as the work we did at Lake Karrinyup. We wish the best of luck to all the players and tournament organisers.