Location: Red Hill, ACT
Architect: Prosper Eillis
Date Played: 28th September 2016
It is not often I go to the Nations capital, Canberra. I’m not involved in politics so no real reason to visit. But I did need to keep the numbers ticking over on the top 100 golf list, so a visit to Federal Golf Club was necessary. Taking a morning flight, I ensured there was ample time to arrive before the tee time. Good chance to have a look around the club and facilities.
Federal Golf Club Entrance
Travelling from the airport to the golf club, allowed the opportunity to see some of the cities reknown sites, including Parliament House. If you have time to spend in Canberra, there are many other sites to visit, including hte National Art Gallery, War Memorial or just relax around Lake Burley Griffen. Playing the other great course at Royal Canberra is also another great alternative.
Clubhouse at Federal Golf Club
My first stop was the pro-shop. I was very early, but the staff were extremely polite and helpful, giving me an overview of what was available, plus a quick chat on my Top 100 chase. Next was the clubhouse, overlooking the putting green as well as the 1st & 10th tees. The small outdoor area is great on a sunny day to relax before the round. A driving range and pitching range are available to warm up, as well as a small chipping green.
Tyson, Mark and Myself
This round was an opportunity to catch up with a Tyson (Slicey Tysie) who is also in the process of playing Australia’s Top 100 golf list. He is doing this slightly different to myself, in utilising the 2014 list, but also looking to play the Top 100 Public course list at the same time. I had actually met for the first time the week before, playing again at Spring Valley Golf Club, with his good friend Mark. Hopefully we will manage to complete some of the remaining courses together.
Federal Golf Club Course Map
Located in the hills above Canberra, gave me a fair idea on that the course maybe hilly. There is certainly a variety in elevation changes over the course, allowing for a variety of play.
Scorecard for Federal Golf Club
Play for the day was from the white tees. The course was played in reverse order, starting at the tenth.
Hole 1 – 473 meter par 5 – Federation
To start the round is the hardest par 5, a mid length hole, playing down a steep slope with a dogleg to the left. A bunker is located to the left which should be avoided, but most shots this side will leave a difficult second, as water is found on the approach to the green.
Approach from the 1st fairway
Play is over a deep gully, where three bunkers await before the green complex. A picturesque yet potentially tough shot.
Looking back from the 1st Green
The green is narrow at the entry, but have raised mounding to the left and rear. Whilst right will see the ball repelled down a slope. Unfortunately my visit had occurred only a couple of weeks after green maintenance, leaving a few bumpy areas to be encountered, along with slow speeds. It therefore hard allowing for the breaks and getting a true indication of their design. An interesting hole to start, although with the down hill sloping, some forgiveness is gained in distance.
Hole 2 – 361 meter par 4 – The Pines
From a totally bind tee shot, local knowledge is required to work out the shape of the hole. Luckily my playing partners had been here before, advising the hole had a turn to the right and the fairway had significant sloping to the left. This leaves a tee shot that should be shaped from left to right to find the best position.
Sloping on the 2nd fairway
With a green built into the slope, the ground on the right runs towards the putting surface, whilst a bunker is built into the left side. The green is longer than it is wide, with some gentle sloping to contend with. This hole is more about the tee shot, with trees running either side of the fairway.
Hole 3 – 150 meter par 3
Playing from an elevated tee, over a gully to the green, the biggest decision is selecting the correct club and being confident of the distance. This is always one of the hardest shots I struggle with, but luckily on this day chose wisely.
View up to the 3rd green
Two traps are found either side at the front, with a slope away in between. Missing to the right is not ideal, with the ground sloping away. Various small mounds are found to the rear of the green. Great scenery from the tee, where committing to the club selected is key (as well as an accurate shot I guess).
Hole 4 – 323 meter par 4 – Panaroma
Finding our first hole going back up a slope, is this shorter par 4. With a dogleg to the left, the fairway is of medium width, containing a bunker on the inside of the corner. the hole plays much longer than the distance suggests.
Looking back over the 4th green
The approach is more difficult, up the steeper slope, with two traps to the right. What is hidden is a grass bunker to the left, sure to catch some out. Another green which is quite narrow at the front, but widens towards the rear. A hole which offers a bit of everything and can be played in a variety of ways. Take some time to look back from the green at the scenery.
Hole 5 – 287 meter par 4 – Tower
The shortest and easiest par 4 on the course is next. With its distance you would think this has risk vs reward written all over it, but I’m not so sure. Playing down a gentle slope with a dog leg to the right, trees are found down the inside of the turn. The entire length of the fairway slopes from the right down to the left.
Approach from the 5th fairway
The green is built into the slope, leaving the right side higher, with a bunker sitting above which is a little unusual, whilst a bunker is built into the left side. With a narrow putting surface, accuracy is the key on the approach. I remain very undecided about this hole. It offers some risk vs reward, but not a lot. With the land sloping to the left and the dogleg to the right, chances are minimal of staying in front of the green, which offers the best approach. Most balls, unless playing with a shot shaped left to right, will end up left side or in the trees. With a few tweaks I’m sure it could be greatly improved.
Hole 6 – 402 meter par 4 – Scott
From the shortest par 4 to the longest. This hole plays over a small rise in the fairway with a turn to the left. Managing to carry the rise will allow some further run down the slope. The fairway slopes in the opposite direction to the previous hole, so ideally you should play to the left of the fairway. The main defence of this hole is distance.
Clear shot to the 6th green
There are a few lines into this green, but easiest will be from center to the right. Again bunkers are found at the front on either side, with the putting surface having more slopes and undulations than previous. Brute of a hole for most at such a long distance.
Hole 7 – 444 meter par 5 – Elbow
We seem to go from one extreme to another, now to the shortest and easiest par 5 on the course. With a dog leg to the left, one large bunker sits on the inside of the corner. A large hit is required to carry this, especially as it sits on a small rise in the fairway.
Well protected 7th green
Anything short of the rise at the turn will leave a blind shot to the green, so getting your line correct becomes critical. The fairway slopes from the left, with a water body out to the right, although should not really be in play. To reach the green will require a carry over the front left bunker, but avoid those out to the right. Some gentle undulations are found on the green. Risk vs reward hole, where there is the chance to attack the green. Options are available on every shot, allowing a variety of play.
Hole 8 – 125 meter par 3 – Casuarina
One of the more picturesque scenes is on the hardest but shortest par 3, eighth hole. This has a tee shot over a forced water carry.
Kangaroo and joey near the 8th
Various wildlife is found around this area, from kangaroos to ducks swimming in the water.
Bunker in on the 8th Green
Four bunkers are found around the green, one quite short on the left, helping to deceive in distance. The putting surface is quite narrow at the entrance, widening slightly at the rear. The right slopes away from the green, so there is no ideal place to miss this relatively small green. Overall this hole is all about the scenery.
Hole 9 – 332 meter par 4 – Mugga Rise
To finish the front loop is a shorter par 4 with a dogleg to the left. Trees line either side of the fairway, which slopes strongly to the left. Ideally playing to the right is the best option from the tee.
Multi tiered 9th Green
Avoiding the trees either side of the fairway becomes critical in making the approach. Two bunkers are found to the left of this long green, having quite some space in between. The putting surface has two tiers, making it important to find the correct portion for an easier putt. Strong hole to finish the front, but would be better with a bit more width on the fairway.
Hole marker and pin flag
The hole markers contain the usual information, hole number, distance, par, but also have the hole name. Usually this would also be on the scorecard, but with Federal Golf Club, this is not the case. Pin flags have the clubs logo, but are also colour coded to show where the pin is located on the green.
Hole 10 – 387 meter par 4 – Yarra Glen
Starting the back loop is a hole playing relatively straight and downhill all the way. The fairway slopes from left to right, with the only danger being the trees lining either side. These are not dense enough to loose the ball luckily, allowing for a recovery shot to be made.
View down the 10th Fairway
A small gully is found just short of the green, making it harder to run the ball onto the green. Two traps are found either side of the elevated putting surface, which is quite wide with gentle slopes. As we had started on the back nine, this was a good hole to get you into the round. Not too difficult and allowing a chance of recovery if taking advantage of the steep slope to the hole.
Hole 11 – 321 meter par 4 – Pioneer
Playing up hill on the shorter par four, caution should be taken from the tee not to drive through the fairway of the dogleg left, but it is possible to hit over the corner to shorten the hole. Finding trees either side, will leave a difficult approach, but left will be all but impossible.
Looking back from the 11th green
The approach to the green is up a steeper incline, with the pin possibly not visible. A large trap is located to the right, whilst the left has ground sloping away. Good hole which offers a variety of play as well as some risk in taking on the corner.
Hole 12 – 184 meter par 3 – Valley
Playing back down the hill is the longest par 3 on the course. The tee is elevated with a shot required over a valley before rising to the green. There is plenty of room to miss short or left, but playing long or right will leave a difficult shot back to the green.
Wide 12th green
A bunker protects the right side of this wide green. With a large rise at the front, anything slightly short will be repelled back down the slope. Great challenging hole which will test the ability on club selection.
Hole 13 – 451 meter par 5 – Red Hill
Getting to the hardest par 5, sees a dogleg to the right, playing up a slope. The first stage is over a small gully before reaching the turn. Those taking on some risk can carry the trees to the right shortening the approach. Missing however will mean scrambling to reach the fairway.
Fairway bunkers on the 13th
Two traps are found short of the green, with one being concealed beneath the shade of a tree. These are quite old style, being relatively flat, in fact most fairway bunkers throughout the course are similar, not presenting a big challenge to reaching the green.
Looking back from the 13th green
The green is quite large at the front, but narrows towards the rear. There is enough width to make this a practical target if you have the length to reach in two. Nicely designed hole which allows varying strategies to be employed. Improvement of the fairway bunkers would make this even better.
Hole 14 – 353 meter par 4
With this mid length par 4, the tee shot is down hill, with an approach up the other side. The hole doglegs to the left, where longer hitters may be able to carry part of the corner. Sloping of the fairway is in various directions as play is around a hill. A fairway trap is located at the end of the turn, to catch any ball potentially going long.
Mark playing to the 14th green
Making the approach is up a hill to an elevated green. Two traps are built into the front of the green complex, with a putting surface sloping back from the rear. Nice hole offering various strategies to get to the green.
Hole 15 – 308 meter par 4 – Sundowner
Heading back down the hill, this short par 4 turns to the left. For longer hitters there will be temptation to hit long over the fairway bunker leaving a short approach. Getting the right line is critical, otherwise the trees await either side of the turn.
Play uphill to the 15th green
A small gully runs across the fairway before rising to the green. Two bunkers are located at the front, with another to the left rear. Mounds to the right may help bring the ball back to the putting surface, which is multi tiered. Good design allowing risk vs reward from the tee.
Hole 16 – 147 meter par 3 – Needle
Another par 3 which plays downhill, but not quite as elevated as the previous. This is considered to be the easiest par 3 on the course.
Sand galore around the 16th green
Bunkers cover from the front right all away along the green, with another solitary one sitting to the left. This leaves a small opening to miss on the left. The putting surface slopes from the rear to front, with a fall off behind. Testing mid length hole requiring an accurate shot.
Hole 17 – 497 meter par 5 – Brindabella
The penultimate hole is the longest on the course. From the tee play is to a small rise, before the hole turns slightly right. The fairway is quite wide but tree lined on either side.
Approach from the 17th fairway
Once over the rise, it is all downhill to the green.
Looking across at the 17th green
With four bunkers found around the green, a small opening is left at the front allowing the ball to be run into the green. The rear slopes dramatically away for those playing long.
Hole 18 – 373 meter par 4 – Kookaburra
To finish the round, is the hardest hole on the course. Playing up hill with a dogleg to the right. The ideal line is center to left of the fairway, allowing a clear shot to the green.
Looking back at the 18th green
The slope continues to rise until the elevated green. Two bunkers are located to the right of this wide green. A challenging hole which requires some accuracy to finish the round strongly.
In summary travelling to Federal Golf Club was well worth the trip. The course presented very well to start with. Even though the clubhouse is at a fairly elevated position for three quarters of the course, it is still hard to see many of the holes, mainly due to the number of trees on the property. Almost all holes are tree lined, but they do not intrude too far in, causing claustrophobia, and are generally have open ground beneath, allowing most balls to be found if going off course.
Routing takes in a variety of the hills in which the course finds itself, utilising them in different ways to allow no two holes to feel the same. For those lacking fitness, it will be a bit of a hike at times.
Conditioning was what I had expected. For a country course no criticism could be made. A couple of tee boxes has some ware, but fairways and green surrounds were good. It was a shame that we had played not long after green maintenance, as it was hard to tell how the greens would typically play.
Looking at the course makeup:
- Hole Directions – There was an even balance in hole directions, with every point on the compass covered. variety allowing for conditions to have wide ranging effects during play. On three occasions there are consecutive holes which follow the same direction as previous, but these all involve par three’s
- Hole Lengths – Par three holes had a good variance in distance, from short to long, with the majority in mid length. Par four holes ranged from short to long with a slight majority being short, whilst mid and long length had an equal number. Par 5 holes ranged from mid to long with an even spread
- Hole Layout – There was a decent mixture in how the holes played, with an almost even split between left and right turns, where two shots or more were required to reach the green. There are three occasions where holes double back, although the fairways do split away at various segments, taking away the feeling they flow back an forth
This was an enjoyable course, which I wouldn’t hesitate to play again. Although next time I hope to play with adequate time for the greens to recover from maintenance.
How to play at The Federal Golf Club:
1. Be invited by a member
2. Play during the social times available for the public outside of competition