Location: Sanctuary Cove, QLD
Architect: Fred Bolton (19??)/ Ross Watson (2011)
Date Played: 7th October 2013
Having traveled up for a week of golf with a group from my local golf club (plus some ring ins), Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club Palms course was the official first game for the week. However for me it was actually the second as I had taken advantage of playing Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club Pines course in the morning.
Also scheduled for the week were games at Links Hope Island, The Glades, Lakelands and lastly Royal Pines, all with the aim of taking out the annual cup.
The course was originally designed by Fred Bolton, but underwent a major re-construction under the guidance of Ross Watson. The Palms course was re-opened in 2011. I had never played the original course so I cannot compare.
Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club Palms Course Scorecard
The Palms course is a part of the Sanctuary Cove Resort, which is a gated community also offering hotel accommodation. It is built around the water ways of Sanctuary Cove. Arriving at the original clubhouse, a new members clubhouse has been built overlooking the Pines course, we must make a long drive to the first tee. Carts are mandatory, but have a large screen built in GPS system.
Hole 1 ‘Palms’ – 465 meter par 5
Each of the holes on the course has its own name. Starting with ‘Palms’, the hardest par 5 on the course, this hole has a double dog leg making its way to the green. Danger exists down the right with the water hazard, whilst fairway traps are in range for longer hitters.
Approach to the 1st green
The second shot will require a carry over water and medium size bunker, if attempting to reach the green. The fairway has plenty of room to the right for laying up, but avoid the bunkers peppering the high ground.
Slightly undulating 1st green
This green is slightly longer than wide and has some slight undulations. The surrounds mostly run away from the putting surface. What can be a tough opening hole, does allow you some room to get into the swing.
Hole 2 ‘Casey’s Road’ – 357 meter par 4
One of the harder holes on the course, this mid length par 4 plays predominantly straight. From the tee there is ample room to land the ball, but short and left could find the water.
The 2nd fairway bunkers
Short of the green are two fairway traps, but the difficulty on this hole is the large elevated green and its gentle slopes. Two further bunkers protect the front. Landing in the wrong portion will leave a difficult putt.
Hole 3 ‘Regal’ – 169 meter par 3
A longish par 3, this hole has bunkers either side of the green. There is also water to the right, but should not be in play. There is quite a bit of room for any miss, but a difficult chip could be encountered if the pin is located behind either of the traps.
Multi-tiered 3rd green
This green is quite large, with two distinct tiers, the front being the lower of the two. There is also a bit of width, but it is important to land on the correct tier to leave an easier putt.
Hole 4 ‘Temerity’ – 302 meter par 4
One of the shortest par 4’s on the course, but ranked the easiest, this hole doglegs to the right. Having one of the tightest landing area so far, with water to the right and heavy bush to the left. It is possible to drive through the fairway leaving a difficult shot blocked by trees.
Approach from the 4th fairway
This hole does require you to be near the end of the fairway, to have the ideal line into the long narrow green. Doing so will leave an easier shot into the green, reducing the front bunkers as an obstacle.
Hole 5 ‘Wavelength’ – 158 meter par 3
Playing down hill to the hardest par 3 on the course. Water protects three quarters of this green, with two bunkers thrown in as well. This looks intimidating from the tee, but allows those not confident enough to come in from the left.
The 5th Green – looking from the 4th fairway
The green itself, is quite long and has some significant undulations and ridges to contend with.
Hole 6 ‘Fred’s Hill’ – 373 meter par 4
Playing to a green which cannot be seen from the tee, this longer par 4 requires a drive over a hill in the distance. Ideally you want to be as close to the top of the hill as possible to prevent a blind second shot. The fairway slopes from the left, with a catchment area before the right hand bunkers.
Looking down to the 6th green
Making the approach to the green will be over a small gully. This raised green has a large false front and a deep bunker to the right. This is not a very large green so accuracy is required.
Hole 7 ‘Chance’ – 340 meter par 4
A great hole where taking on too much risk is punished. For me this was the toughest tee shot on the course. Ideal shot shape of left to right to run down the fairway a bit further. The fairway is not overly wide and if too far left out of bounds comes into play. The slope of the fairway, you guessed it, towards the water. Bunkers in the middle of the fairway are reachable for longer hitters.
Looking back from the 7th green
This large green has sand all down the left, which could be good as it stops the ball rolling into the water, a pot on the left with a large swale at the front. The putting surface has some large undulations to contend with. A good testing hole where par will feel like a birdie.
Hole 8 ‘Amen’ – 120 meter par 3
The shortest hole on the course plays over the lake. Again good design allows those not so confident to skirt around to the left without losing too many balls. Knowing you have to carry the water, bunkers come into play for those thinking of playing it extremely safe by going long. This hole is all about playing the correct club and executing. Be careful of the wind as it can be deceiving.
Narrow 8th green
Green eight is quite narrow in depth, but wide, making it a big target from the tee if you have the right club. If finding the back bunkers you have a testing shot back, with water in play.n
Hole 9 ‘Lang Whang’ – 375 meter par 4
Playing the hardest hole on the course to complete the front nine, this long par four requires to good shots to reach the green. The fairway is tree lined down the left, with two fairway traps located on either side to avoid.
Raised 9th green
A slight turn to the left occurs with the second shot, with the fairway narrowing as we get closer. A trap is short left of the green, whilst closer on the right is another. The putting surface is slightly raised and slopes mainly to the left.
Hole markers at Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club Palms course
After the ninth we cross through a tunnel to play back to the clubhouse.
Hole 10 ‘Adam’s Alley’ – 450 meter par 5
The easiest hole on the course takes us back to the clubhouse. From the tee we have a fairly wide fairway with lots of palm trees in view. Traps are located to the right, preventing any second shot from reaching the green. Lots of grass is available to the left but many scattered palms will make the second a difficult shot.
Well guarded 10th green
With the hole turning slightly to the left, you will face a big decision for the second shot. Water is located front left covering three quarters of the green. Bunkers pepper the right side with the ground severely sloping down to the fairway. Taking on the risk? The putting surface has two tiers, the left side higher than the right and is quite narrow in depth.
Hole 11 ‘Old Digger’ – 318 meter par 4
Starting the back eight (the tenth brought us back to the clubhouse remember), we have a shortish par 4 which will demand an accurate tee shot. Tree lined down the left and water in various parts down the right.
Approach from the 11th fairway
There is a fairway trap to the left, where the fairway turns to the left approaching the hole. A few small mounds running the width of the fairway may leave an awkward stance for the approach.
Undulating 11th green
Playing to an elevated green with a bunker to the right, the putting surface contains a few undulations through the middle. Another testing short hole.
Hole 12 ‘What-o-Hole’ – 139 meter par 3
A medium length par 3 which plays down hill. Water is found on the right, which will be in play for any pin positions close to that side.
The long 12th green
This green is quite long yet narrow. A bunker is found front middle and rear middle, almost splitting the green in two. A ridge between these bunkers gives two distinct sections to play to.
Hole 13 ‘Respite’ – 294 meter par 4
Another short par four with water running the length of the fairway. The small trees down the left give the impression of a fairway being narrower than it actually is, with ample room for a wild miss beyond the trees. Fairway bunkers are found on either side.
Looking back over the 13th green
The closer you get to the green, the more undulating the ground becomes, with various mounds and hollows. The green is placed on the waters edge and almost surrounded on three sides. Two further traps help to guard shots short or to the left.
Hole 14 ‘Murphy’s Island’ – 473 meter par 5
My namesake, this is the longest hole on the course. Big decision from the tee on whether to take on the water carry or take the safe (sane) option down the left. If the wind is behind, don’t hesitate to go for it.
Bunkers on the 14th fairway
If you are long enough to take on the water, these little friends will be waiting to greet you. Also in play for shorter hitters on their second shot for this double dogleg hole.
Raised 14th green
Green fourteen is slightly elevated and predominantly slopes from the rear. There are numerous bunkers around the medium sized putting area helping to keep guard.
Hole 15 ‘Double Trouble’ – 352 meter par 4
A medium length par four which ranks as the second hardest hole on the course. With a slight dogleg to the left, there is quite a wide fairway to land you tee shot. A fairway bunker is located to the right, whilst palm trees line the left. The hole plays to a slight rise at which point you will be able to spot the green.
Well protected 15th green
The approach shot will need to be fairly accurate to find the green. The raised green has three traps protecting both sides for the approach, with a narrow gap allowing the ball to be run in. A putting surface which has a few large undulations separating the two tiers found.
Hole 16 ‘About Turn’ – 148 meter par 3
Again water is used to intimidate the golfer, unless you are like me and water does not exist on a golf course, for this medium length par 3. This is a tight landing area, looking worse with the trees lining the left side of the hole.
Undulating 16th green
The raised green complex has a bunker either side. At the rear it slopes away with a couple of swales found at various points. The putting surface has some gentle contours and tricky pin positions available.
Hole 17 ‘Daintree’ – 350 meter par 4
The penultimate hole is a medium length par 4. This hole has a wide fairway for the first portion, but narrows dramatically for the second section. Two fairway bunkers centrally located are reachable for longer hitters. Playing to far to either side will leave a difficult second shot.
Approach to the 17th green
Approaching the green finds each side of the fairway heavily tree lined. To the right and rear of the green is water, but will only be in play for badly mishit shots. The green has a large mound at the rear and gentle slopes in other areas.
Hole 18 ‘St. Andrews’ – 347 meter par 4
Another mid length hole is found at the last. The hole doglegs to the right, with the green unseen from the tee. Playing to a hill with fairway traps on either side, the ideal line will be just left of the right trap.
Water in play at the 18th green
Leaving a memorable last shot for the round, the green complex is raised, with a massive bunker to the right, along with water, which moves around to the rear as well. The green itself is very large with a false front. Towards the middle the putting surface actually slopes away to the rear, leaving a tricky shot to rear pin positions.
Overall the Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club Palms course was a good challenge. One that can be played by all golfer levels, as long as they are playing from the appropriate tee. Water is found on quite a bit of the course, although generally there is no forced carries.
The conditioning of the course was good. Fairways were firm allowing a bit of roll. Rough was cut at a reasonable level, especially considering this is a resort course and open to the public. Roll of the greens were true. During our play there was considerable wind and overcast conditions, making play a lot tougher.
Certainly a course I would like to play again and a good option for the members of the club having a selection to choose from for play.
How to play the Palms course:
The course is open to the public with tee times accessible seven days a week. To make a booking you can contact the Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club pro shop or check the iseekgolf website to book on-line (you can potentially get a discount on green fees).