Features

Golfing around... Sydney

1 Mar 2006 by business traveller

Golf is an Australian passion, although, as with other sports, the locals successfully combine a deceptively relaxed attitude with a seriously competitive streak. Sydney has over 50 courses within 10km of downtown. But forget about the hallowed Royal Sydney Golf Club and Australian Golf Club as both take their members-only policies very seriously, and the only way to play is to be invited by a member.

Instead, we list here five courses that welcome visitors, including public courses operated as clubs along with one course that's on many a business visitor's itinerary due to its proximity to the famous Bondi Beach fun zone. Green fees are far steeper at member-oriented clubs, but are still cheap compared with some of their Asian counterparts.

THE LAKES GOLF CLUB

Where is it? Five minutes by car from the airport and 15 minutes from the business district.

What's it like? This course was built in 1928, on wasteland adjoining a former Sydney water supply. It is now an immaculately manicured upmarket club that has hosted championship events such as the Australian Open. Sydney golf authorities call it the favourite of golfing greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Watch out though: the gently rolling 72 par course can be misleading; its small lakes (which are most evident on the homeward stretch) demonstrate a notorious thirst for stray golf balls.

Address Corner King Street and Vernon Avenue, Eastlakes, New South Wales 2018.

Contact tel +61 2 9669 1311, thelakesgolfclub.com.au.

Price A$200 (£85) for 18 holes if you're not a member of any Australian golf club; A$150 (£63.75) for non-members of The Lakes, who can play on Monday and Thursday.

Can I rent clubs? Yes, costing A$68 (£29) full set. Shoe rental is also available.

Club hours Dawn to dusk, throughout the year.

Minimum handicap Overseas visitors should possess a handicap "somewhere in the world", but staff say this isn't strictly enforced (as a guide, 28 for men, and 36 for women is preferred).

Facilities An 18-hole course regarded as one of Sydney's prime golf venues. No other sports facilities available.

After golf There is a recently renovated clubhouse with bar and restaurant, which is open for lunch serving western cuisine with steaks, seafood and pasta as the most popular orders.

BONDI GOLF AND DIGGERS CLUB

Where is it? Located atop a grassy cliff top at the Pacific's edge, overlooking Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach, the course is a 15-minute cab ride from downtown and the airport. It's also a short stroll from Bondi's kilometre of white sand and surf, restaurants, bars and shops.

What's it like? Remarkably cheap, and certainly no championship venue. However, it's much more than a playground for professionals on their way to major events at more esteemed courses. Earthy and unpretentious, and epitomising egalitarian Australia, it's a place where captains of industry mix with mere mortals — including tourists, who come to soak up the view and the atmosphere as much as enjoy a round of golf. During the winter months, whales can sometimes be spotted on their annual migration between Antarctica and Australia's Queensland coast.

An old-style golf links reminiscent of coastal Scotland, it has many visitors opting to get in their 18 holes by playing the course twice.   

Address 5 Military Road, North Bondi, New South Wales 2026.

Contact tel +61 2 9130 3170, bondigolf.com.au.

Price A$18.50 (£7.90) for all-day access; A$11 (£4.70) after 1600.

Can I rent clubs? Yes, costing A$18.50 (£7.90), including hand-pulled trolley; A$5 (£2.15) for shoe rental.

Club hours Dawn to dusk, all year round (opening 1230 at weekends). Go to the adjoining pro shop when the clubhouse is closed.

Minimum handicap None; all players are welcome.

Facilities A nine-hole course, described as challenging and ideal for improving the short game. Watch out, near the fifth hole, for ancient Aboriginal rock paintings on flat rock. There is no gym or other sports facilities available.

After golf The clubhouse is open Monday to Wednesday, 1200-2000; Thursday to Saturday, 1000-2200; Sunday, 0930-2000. There's a no-frills bar, sports channel, pool tables and slot-machine gambling. Cuisine is pub-style fare such as fish and chips, roasts and meat pies.

MOOREPARK GOLF CLUB

Where is it? In Centennial Parklands, one of Sydney's green "lungs" and only 10 minutes' drive from downtown. It's the closest good public course to the city.

What's it like? Lush, beautifully maintained and efficiently run, this is a 70 par course which is popular at both social and championship levels. Established over 85 years ago, it is picturesque with lots of trees and moderate slopes.

Address Corner of Anzac Parade and Cleveland Street, Moore Park, New South Wales 1465.

Contact tel +61 2 9663 1064;  mooreparkgolf.com.au.

Price A$45 (£19) weekdays; A$50 (£21) weekends.

Can I rent clubs? Yes, for a full set A$40 (£17). No shoe rental.

Club hours From 0600-2200 (course and pro shop). The clubhouse is open from 1100-1900 (Mon-Thurs), and from 1000 — until the last customer leaves (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Minimum handicap None.

Facilities As well as the 18-hole course, there is the 60-bay driving range on three levels, putting green and chipping green.

After golf The clubhouse with bar and adjoining patio overlooks the putting green. La Trattoria excels at pasta, wood-fired pizzas, steaks and seafood dishes. Open seven days a week.

NEW SOUTH WALES GOLF CLUB

Where is it? Surrounded by Botany Bay National Park, roughly a 25-minute drive from downtown and 15 minutes from the airport.

What's it like? This course is highly rated in several listings of best courses around the world. It features mildly rolling hills, valleys and Pacific ocean views. The course can be bracing during the Australian winter's coldest days. While attracting a high-profile business crowd, the club is upscale without being stuffy, and welcomes visitors. However, don't wear baggy shorts extending below the knees. Also frowned upon on the premises are denim and trousers with drawstrings.

Address Henry Head, Botany Bay National Park, off Anzac Parade, La Perouse, New South Wales 2036.

Contact tel +61 2 9661 4455; nswgolfclub.com.au.

Price A$260 (£110) for 18 holes for overseas visitors, who are advised to telephone ahead to reserve a tee-off time. Visitors can play only on Monday, Tuesday (limited), Thursday (afternoon) and Friday (morning). 

Can I rent clubs? Yes, A$45 (£19) for a full set; A$12 (£5.10) for shoe rental; and A$40 (£17) for electric cart rental.

Club hours Dawn to dusk, all year round.

Minimum handicap 24 or below is recommended but those with higher handicaps are accepted.

Facilities 18-hole course and practice range.

After golf Clubhouse bar is open until 2000 (or sunset in mid-year southern winter). The dining room (men are required to wear jacket and tie) opens for lunch serving western-style cuisine. On the menu include steak and freshly caught fish.

EASTLAKEGOLF CLUB

Where is it? Located in Sydney's leafy eastern suburbs, this course is little more than 10 minutes by car from most of the city's hotels. An equal distance in another direction is the airport. The course boasts skyline downtown views.

What's it like? One of Sydney's best public courses (but with membership too), it has welcomed golfers for over 75 years and regularly hosts qualifying events for the Australian Open. Aficionados praise it as the most enjoyable of local venues. It is a mostly flat tree-studded setting with some gently rolling countryside. Experts say it's more challenging than it seems, with lagoons as water hazards along a traditional links-style layout.

Address Gardeners Road, Kingsford, New South Wales 2032.

Contact tel +61 2 9663 1374; eastlakegolfclub.com.au.

Price A$33 (£14) weekdays; A$36 (£15) weekends and holidays; A$20 (£8) after 12pm Monday to Thursday.

Can I rent clubs? A$28 (£12) for a full set; A$15 (£6.40) for a half set; and A$35 (£15) to rent an electric cart.

Club hours Dawn to dusk. Call the pro shop to check exact times (+61 2 9663 6453).

Minimum handicap Visitors are not asked but for members, 27 for men, and 36 for women.

Facilities 18-hole championship course and practice facilities. No swimming pool or tennis courts on the premises.

After golf There's a sauna, slot machines for keen gamblers, bar and The Links Bistro in the clubhouse, which offers lunch and snacks, plus dinner on Fridays and hearty steaks and seafood.

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