Location: Lockleys, SA
Architect: Herbert Lockett Rymill
Date Played: 30th October 2015
The final game for my Adelaide trip was to Kooyonga Golf Club. The last of the Top 100 golf courses within Adelaide city I would be playing, was more than I expected. With this being the fifth game in four days, my feet were getting a little weary, but it was still a shame it had all gone so quick.
Entrance to Clubhouse at Kooyonga Golf Club
Discovered by chance, after taking a tram rather than train, Herbett Rymill, purchased the land what was originally swamp and sand dune country. Originally building a nine hole course in 1922. The full eighteen holes of the course were completed in 1924, with only minor changes having to be done over the years.
Clubhouse at Kooyonga Golf Club
I had managed to take advantage of a deal which included a two course lunch on the day. This was well worth the extra expense, just don’t eat too much before hand. Quite enjoyable to sit on the porch of the fairly new clubhouse, built in 2009. Outside over looking the eighteenth green, watching some interesting shots being played.
Kooyonga Golf Course Map
The course itself is not super long, but manages to present some interesting challenges on what is not the largest piece of land.
Scorecard for Kooyonga Golf Club
Play for the day was actually in the reverse order, but for ease of reading, I have shown the holes according to scorecard order.
Hole 1 – 489 meter par 5
To start the round you encounter the hardest par 5 on the course. This long par 5 plays with a slight double dogleg. Playing to a wide fairway, there is a slight rise to carry. Finding the wrong portion however will leave a difficult second shot.
View from the 1st hole fairway
Those long enough will have a cluster of bunkers to the right, which can be found from the tee. For the average player, they will need to carry these to reach the next portion of the fairway, or green if trying to reach.
Approach to 1st green
Playing as a true three shot hole, the final approach will be up a gentle slope to the green, potentially leaving the bottom of the pin hidden. A line of bunkers are found to the right which is the main danger around the green complex. Tough starting hole, more due to distance, but will get you into the round quickly. There is a little bit of strategy required, taking the wrong line will make second or third shot more difficult.
Hole 2 – 429 meter par 5
We have consecutive par five holes to start. I’m usually not a big fan of consecutive par holes, with the exception of par 4 types. This hole however plays completely different to the first. The second fairway looks a lot narrow in the first portion than it is. Partly due to trees blocking some of the view, but the bunkers are definitely in play for most people. It is also much shorter, almost being a very long par 4.
Looking into the 2nd green
Making the approach will encounter a very narrow neck, leading into the green complex. It is wiser to lay up or play over the trees to reach a much wider landing area. Helps to have played the hole previously to know this.
Large 2nd green complex
Around the green there is a lot more landing area, however two large traps hide most of the putting surface. There are various mounds and run off areas surrounding the green, something that you need to get accustomed to quickly, to make this a bit trickier. Can be a very easy hole if you don’t get too greedy or inaccurate, but also one that gets the heart pumping, with how narrow it appears. By far the weakest par 5 on the course, although really enjoyed the green complex.
Hole 3 – 152 meter par 3
This par 3 has a lot more to offer than appears. Based on flat ground, an area of native grass grows between the tee and the green to add a little character. A large landing area exists before the green, but once closer the bunkers encroach to leave the smallest of entries.
Narrow neck to the 3rd green
Gentle slopes are found on the putting surface, with some trailing away at the sides. What looks sedate is far from it. The green is quite large at the rear, leaving a few portions for tough pin positions. The hole does not look as spectacular as the other par 3’s, but offers a lot in the way of play.
Hole 4 – 322 meter par 4
First of two short par 4 holes, from the tee a large saddle must be carried, before the green can be seen. From the tee the area looks very small, but once towards the top, the space opens very quickly.
Approach to 4th green
At the top of the rise a large plateau exists. Beyond a gully is found before reaching the green. Numerous bunkers exist to the left for those driving over the rise in attacking the green from the tee.
Looking back from the 4th green
Large undulation are found around and on the fourth green, making anything slightly off line difficult. This was one of my favourite holes for the front, as there was a lot of options open to play. Not executing your chosen path would lead to risk, whilst a well struck shot would be rewarded. The green itself offers some variety with the shots available around the complex. As with other holes there is generous short grass on the surrounds, leaving play to your imagination.
Hole 5 – 290 meter par 4
The next hole is the shortest par 4 and easiest hole on course. At first glance it wasn’t all that appealing. It is a fairly flat hole, a wide fairway with two bunkers to the right opposite a large mound to the left. I found the fairway interesting in that there were many small mounds or ridges in the fairway. Unfortunately they look manufactured and not natural.
Slightly raised 5th green
There is a slight break in the fairway before a lower area, which the green sits in. Three traps are to the right, with the green complex sloping away on all other sides. There are multiple tiers on the putting surface with some gentle sloping. I am still undecided on this hole. It is not a thing of physical beauty, but has some good elements to allow various strategies of play. Long hitters can take on the green, but require a very accurate shot. Taking on a bit more than you should could see a fairway bunker reached or blocked out by the mound or trees on either side. Rear pins will have their own risk in carrying the traps, but there is still ample room to layup/miss at the front.
Hole 6 – 360 meter par 4
Changing direction, we head back the way we have just come with this longish par 4. This hole has a slight turn to the right and must carry a rise before seeing the green. Play is through a narrow chute from the tee, but a wide landing area is available short of the bunkers on the hill. Finding the center or left side leaves a clearer path to the green.
Well bunkered 6th green
The putting surface is well guarded on either side, but allows enough of an entrance to roll into the green. At the rear the green slopes mainly away. I quite liked this hole, even more so after looking at the design again. There is multiple options from the tee, some not the best, which then have consequences for the second. The design of the green complex allows for a variety of shots to enter and various pin positions, some much tougher than others.
Hole 7 – 140 meter par 3
A hole which looks challenging from the tee, requiring a carry over a valley. Distance is the critical thing on this hole. Anything slightly short will careen back down the slope, humans and golf equipment included if not cautious.
Large false front to the 7th green
The green itself has three bunkers to avoid. I’m not often a fan of bunkers towards the rear of a hole, as they rarely come into play and increase maintenance. The right rear however does serve a purpose, with this side being the narrower portion of the green. Significant slopes run from the rear, leaving any ball above the hole, a difficult putt. A green which allows quite a few pin placements, giving a variety of challenges from the tee, but also when working from around the green. Nerves of steel required for some shots to avoid compounding bigger problems, especially the rear bunkers.
Hole 8 – 376 meter par 4
This is a long dogleg to the right, with quite a large landing area, adjoining the 4th fairway. However this can lead to major problems if finding yourself too far right, as the approach will be a blind shot. The left contains trees running almost all the way to the green.
Small elevated 8th green
An index of 2 for this hole is very appropriate. A narrow fairway sloping heavily to the left, leads to the green complex. Quite raised and very small, the ground slopes away in all directions. The green doesn’t need to much more defense, but there is a trap on either side for good measure. Good use of the land has been made to make this a solid challenge. Multiple lines can be taken to reach the green, some more punishing than others. Enjoyable to play.
Hole 9 – 450 meter par 5
Closing the front nine, is this medium length par 5, which is the easiest on the course. A burn runs down the right portion, whilst a large cluster of bunkers is found on the left. The hole doglegs in this direction.
Approach to 9th green
Those hitting long enough will have the choice of going at the well bunkered green. For most laying up to the second turn will be the ideal option.
Looking back from the 9th Green
The green is slightly elevated on most sides, with even small hollows built into the raised bank to the left. A pleasant hole to play with a couple of challenges along the way. The green is cleverly placed, especially for those attempting to reach in two. Any shots hit to the right will find a much more difficult shot than those approaching from the front.
Tee markers and pin flag
The first loop finishes away from the clubhouse, however a refreshment area has been placed behind the ninth green.
Hole 10 – 391 meter par 4
Starting the back is the longest par 4 and hardest hole. Wasn’t ideal since this was actually my starting hole. From an elevated tee, a small burn must be carried to reach a wide fairway. This is quite flat, although very gentle undulations are found in parts, making the look of the hole quite plain, compared to others on the course. The hole turns slightly to the right, so landing down this side blocks the approach to the green.
View from fairway to 10th green
The green narrows at the front, with two traps on either side, also blocking the view to parts of the putting surface. Gentle slopes are found but not overly complicated. Not looking terribly tough, this hole is long, especially into the wind. Wasn’t my favourite hole, more due to it’s plain look. There is definitely quite a few strategies that could be employed playing the hole, but visually was uninspiring.
Hole 11 – 365 meter par 4
Not in play during my visit due to renovations, I thought I would include for reference purposes only.
Approach from the 11th fairway
I am unsure when this hole would be placed back in play, but assume early 2016 at latest.
Hole 12 – 348 meter par 4
Another difficult hole, which doglegs to the left. Playing a tee shot through a small chute, before reaching a reasonable sized landing area. Line is critical on this hole. Anything left will likely prevent reaching the green in two. Play to the right will increase the length of the approach.
Approach from 12th fairway
A medium slope leads up to the green, which has one long bunker front right. A steep slope is found just before the green, however this has a small plateau between its top and the green, preventing balls from rolling off the green considerable distance. Nice hole which has some strategy and also visually appealing.
Hole 13 – 379 meter par 4
Again playing through a chute of trees from the elevated tee, this long straight par 4 is deceiving. A wide fairway is found, but anything on the extremes can leave a difficult approach. There is a large rise on the fairway to be carried. Failing to do so leaves a blind approach.
Bunkers protecting the 13th green
Another small rise is found before the green, which has bunkers either side, although the right is slightly forward. The putting surface has some gentle slopes with the edges leading away. Good hole, which allows varying strategies to be employed from the tee to green.
Hole 14 – 136 meter par 3
The first of consecutive par 3’s, this mid length hole plays to an elevated green, built into the slope. If struggling to carry the distance or allowing for any miss, play from the right opens up the green.
Looking back from the 14th green
Multiple bunkers protect the front of the complex, whilst one is also found right rear. The putting surface has larger slopes which penalise play to the wrong portion. Good hole which allows for options no matter the skill of the player.
Hole 15 – 184 meter par 3
The second of the one shot holes, is the longest and hardest par 3 on course. Looking claustrophobic from the tee, the width leading up to the hole is deceptively hidden. Tall grass in front of the tee also hides the length of short grass available before the green.
Long narrow 15th green
The elevated landing surface has steep slopes surrounding away. A large trap is also found short of the green, leaving a difficult shot if found. A challenging hole, which will test all golfers. Not my ideal however with two short holes being consecutive. Would be great if another routing could be found.
Hole 16 – 497 meter par 5
The last par 5 hole for the round was undergoing renovation on my visit, with the tee area being modified. A temporary tee was in place down the fairway, shortening the hole by around 70 meters. To play the hole how it should be, I used an iron off the tee. Playing relatively straight, a wider section of the fairway is found short of the bunkers, beside which is a gentle rise.
Large hollow before the 16th green
A small turn to the right is found short of the small green, ensuring those on the wrong side a difficult or impossible shot. Short of the green is a depression, which is unseen from the fairway. This will see the chance of a ball running in reduced, due to the slope away from the green. Behind the green is out of bounds, with a net protecting those beyond, detracting slightly from the view. Nice challenging par 5 which is usually ranked the hardest of its type. Visually distracting however on the green with a large net behind.
Hole 17 – 343 meter par 4
The penultimate hole is a medium length par 4, which dog legs to the left. Play is over a large rise, with a massive bunker to the left. There are various mounds to the right of this rise, which the ball will tend to run.
Approach to 17th green
The approach looks quite open running into the green, with what appears to be one large tree left, however there is a surprise awaiting who don’t look carefully.
Augusta-esq like water feature next to 17th green
Hiding in from on the 17th green is a water hazard. This reminds me quite a lot of the 15th at Augusta. Not quite a forced carry, but anything going close to the right side of the green has the chance to roll all the way into the water.
Looking back from 17th green
Enjoy the view of seventeen before playing the last hole for the day. This was an enjoyable hole with some risk and reward on offer. Can be handled in numerous ways, ensuring enjoyment each time played.
Hole 18 – 328 meter par 4
The final hole has an elevated tee for this shorter par 4. With a dogleg to the left, the fairway has a large cluster of bunkers on the left and mounding down the right.
Approach from 18th fairway
At the turn the ground has a slight rise, before falling away before the green. Those laying up will have a blind shot to the green. Taking on the dogleg could lead to a difficult shot if finding one of the numerous bunkers.
Well protected 18th Green
The final green of the day has varying slopes to deal with, but also numerous bunkers. A hole which requires the player to think about the best approach, with a great risk reward on offer. Good finishing hole that could turn a match, but will challenge the golfer on every shot.
Hole 19 – 140 meter par 3
As the 11th was out of play during my visit, the medium length 19th par 3 was the replacement. Clubs who have an extra hole always impress me, I’m sure it also impresses the members even more, allowing for a full 18 to be played without causing too many issues. Even more so, this is actually a good hole, not something put together in haste.
The spare 19th green
Playing from an elevated tee, a small hazard must be carried before a large section of fairway leads into the green. There are large bunkers, mounds and hollows surrounding the complex. A small opening is found at the front of this long green. There is ample room surrounding the green, with various sized mounds to contend with. One of my favourite par 3 holes on the course
In Summary Kooyonga Golf Club was a highlight, actually my second favourite course, picked from the big five clubs in Adelaide. Royal Adelaide Golf Club being the standout.
Looking at the course makeup:
- Hole Directions – There was a good variety allowing for conditions to have wide ranging effects during play. Sixty percent north or south facing and forty percent east or west facing. Two holes 14 and 17 have an westerly facing tee, which may have issues late in the afternoon with sun
- Hole Lengths – Par three holes had a good variance in distance, the majority in mid length. Par four holes ranged from short to long with the majority being either short or mid length. Par 5 holes ranged from short to long with the latter being the majority
- Hole Layout – There was a decent mixture in how the holes played, although an overwhelming majority tended to favour turns to the left, where two shots or more were required to reach the green. This outnumbered those turning to the right two to one, with two holes playing reasonably straight
The biggest issue was part of the routing, not of the course utilising the land, but having two par 5 in a row and also two par 3 holes in a row. Yes there are other higher ranked clubs with similar scenarios, Victoria Golf Club stands out, with consecutive par 5 holes on both loops, but having consecutive par 3 holes just doesn’t seem right. The only other Top 100 ranked club I have played with this was Stonecutters Ridge and I wasn’t a fan of that part of the routing either.
There were some superbly designed holes, ensuring the use of the land made most different and challenging. There are quite a few elevation changes found throughout, which is deceiving, as they cannot be seen from outside the course. Holes were designed to utilise these quite well. A majority of the holes were quite memorable, with only three leaving me slightly disappointed.
My standout for the course was what I considered the some of the best green complexes on the trip. They presented and played extremely well. Grass on the surrounds were generally short, with many mounds and hollows found, ensuring a variety of play in reaching the putting surface. Also had the best presentation overall of the Adelaide courses. The greens had gentle or subtle slopes and undulations. Partially due to the speeds that are presented, where large changes in tier levels would prove impossible to putt on.
Overall this is a golf club where I wouldn’t hesitate to revisit.
How to play at Kooyonga Golf Club:
1. Be invited by a member
2. Be a member of club with reciprocal rights
3. Limited opportunities for visitors