Location: Seaton, SA
Architect: Vern Morcom (1967) /Greg Norman (2013)
Date Played: 29th October 2015
With my Adelaide golfing experience half over, it was time to take on both the East and West courses at The Grange Golf Club. Only a handful of clubs in the country have two courses or more ranked in the Top 100 Australian Golf course list. So far the weather had been superb, but today was going to be a lot warmer. Note to self drink lots of liquid, non alcoholic in particular.
Entrance to The Grange Golf Club
The club itself has an interesting history. Golf was first played on the land in 1910 by the ‘McCoy’ family, using the area which is the West course holes 1,2,10 and 18. After World War One the land was made available for soldiers for farming, but found crops would not grow due to the sandy soil. The first basis for a course was established in 1926, but it was not until 1956 that the West course was completed. Then in 1967 the East course was established.
The Grange Golf Club Proshop
Facilities at the club were undergoing some renovation, in particular within the clubhouse, the locker rooms in particular. To be honest the clubhouse itself from outside is fairly ordinary, with the proshop actually standing out a lot more. This overlooks the start and finish to the West Course.
Map of the East Course
First up was the East course, which I had read so much about with the redesign, in particular the bunkering of the course, which had been carried out a few years before. It was a nice early start, allowing a break for lunch then on to the West course.
Being early I hadn’t expected too many other players around. Funnily enough the bulk were actually in front, which allowed me to take a bit of time and take in the intricacies of the design. Play would be from the white tees for the day.
Hole 1 – 335 meter par 4
With a bit of dew on the ground, the first hole was a medium length par 4 which plays with a slight turn to the right. Trees run the length down the left, but they encroach on the right, narrowing the fairway at driving length distance. For my liking it was a little too narrow for the first shot of the day.
Approach to the 1st green
Depending on the club used, a bunker may come into play with the approach, but only for mishit shots or those out of the trees. Mounds on either side of the fairway will help funnel the ball onto the fairway (also protect houses to the right). The three tiered green, is built into a slight slope, leaving runoff area away from the putting surface on the right, but the left will leave a downhill shot to a green running away. I was immediately impressed with the surrounds, which are short grass, leaving a variety of play possible, whilst the putting surface was firm and ran beautifully. Not so impressed with the first section of the hole but from the approach on was glad with what I saw.
Hole 2 – 338 meter par 4
A similar length hole to the first, but this time a dogleg to the left. I got a little wet here with the sprinklers on around the tee. The dogleg has a large bunker to carry as well as a large mound covered in thick rough. The fairway is a bit wider than the first, but has a more bunkers to contend with. Driving through the fairway is a possibility.
Danger either side of the 2nd Green
Playing the approach will require an accurate shot, especially from the right, as the opening to the green is a lot smaller. A cavernous bunker is to the right, whilst the ground slopes away to the left and rear. A hole which requires the tee shot to be down the left to take advantage of the green direction. Quite a nice hole with a bit of strategy required.
Hole 3 – 140 meter par 3
So I was starting to see Greg Norman now, and his trademark bunkering. The third is a mid length par 3 requiring a full tee shot to reach the green, although there was a very small opening to run the ball in. The trees on the left, there to protect the 4th tee mainly, help to make the target look much smaller.
Bunkers galore around the 3rd Green
The green is surrounded by bunkers, well that is a slight exaggeration, there is none left of the green itself. I have to laugh at the course guide which said the bunkers on the right should not come into play. They won’t if you don’t hit it there, but some of the slopes on the green do lead down that way. The putting surface has a few slopes to contend with. Looks good to the eye but plays even better.
Hole 4 – 276 meter par 4
The 4th brings the shortest and easiest par 4 for the East course. The hole plays around a water body on the right, with waste areas leading into this. There are bunkers to the left, leaving a big decision, play short or carry them. For longer hitters the green is also an option.
Largely undulating 4th Green
Once you reach the putting surface, it is a surprise how undulating it actually is. Sloping away from the front, any pin position toward there will be hard to hold. To be honest I did not really like this hole at first, partly due to how I played it (landing in between all the bunkers didn’t help), but my feelings were it was way too narrow. Having looked back at this, the tee shot is all about laying well up or hitting a bit longer to avoid the traps. The longer tee shot definitely brings further danger into play with the waste and water. A hole you need to play twice to truly appreciate the design.
Hole 5 – 155 meter par 3
Another short hole, although this time the hardest par 3. The tee position here can drastically change the hole. From the white tee the waste and hazard are not really in play, however from the back tees, this must be carried to a degree.
Waste area towards 5th Green
With the green angles away to the left, two large bunkers protect this side. A false front will repel anything slightly short on this elevated green. Tough par 3 with great options to change the angle of play from the various tee locations.
Hole 6 – 337 meter par 4
A medium length par 4 with waste running the entire right side, separating the fairway from a water hazard. With a large sweeping turn to the right, this hole offers some risk verse reward from the tee, in trying to gain as much distance as you dare. Caution on the left as the fairway falls away down a small slope to the 7th hole.
Approach to the 6th
Playing to the 6th green may require a slight carry over the waste, to a green protected by two large bunkers on the left. A large opening is available to run the ball in, but playing long will see the ball run away.
Bunkering on the 6th Green
My first impressions of this hole were mixed. From the tee it looked like a great hole, with danger down the right, some risk and reward with the tee shot. But the fairway seemed slightly narrow and a little unforgiving, probably due to being firm with the ball rolling out a considerable distance.
Hole 7 – 463 meter par 5
A medium length par 5 which has a slight bend to the right. From the tee there is a lot more room than previous holes, so you can open up with a longer club. However don’t go to far to the right as it will hide some of the strategy required for the second shot.
Strategically placed 7th Fairway Bunker
With a bunker around 80 meters short of the green on the left, the second shot needs to be accurate or very long to carry the sand. This can be seen from some distance out, although the size is deceiving as the trees on the bend block out how large it actually is.
Large Elevated 7th Green
Upon getting to the green you realise how large the false front is, elevating the surface quite a bit above the fairway. It will be no surprise if your ball rolled back if slightly short. Two large traps withe quite a bit of depth are on either side of this green, whilst the rear also feeds away. Enjoyable hole throwing challenges all the way along.
Hole 8 – 385 meter par 4
Starting the run back to the clubhouse is the hardest hole on the course, a long par 4. A fairly straight hole but the fairway angles slightly to the right. From the tee there is ample room to land the ball, although one lone fairway bunker can cause issues on the left.
Well protected 8th Green
The approach to the green is slightly down hill and certainly adds to the difficulty as the fairway narrows as you get closer to the hole. A bunker is short of the green left, helping to deceive the distance to the green. With a large false front, the putting areas is not overly large. Nice hole with a bit of strategy, although not the standout on the day.
Hole 9 – 456 meter par 5
Medium length par 5 which challenges from the tee. With a dogleg to the left, a large waste area can be carried to shorten the distance dramatically.
Approach from the 9th Fairway
I was very deceived by the approach, with the area looking a lot more narrow than what it actually is. The use of a waste area on the right, along with the green side bunkers help add to this.
Multitude of bunkers beside the 9th Green
From a distance the bunkers appear to all be green side, however one is 20 meters out. Left of the green is open and a good area to miss. A hole which allows for good strategy from tee to green, offering a bit of risk or reward. The green complex was designed well, having enough room to miss, yet punish at the same time. Another hole with deception around the green.
Hole marker and pin flag
Hole 10 – 375 meter par 4
Starting the back is a long par 4, which has a sweeping turn to the left. One of the more traditional designed holes on the course, caution must be taken to avoid running through the fairway, or more importantly avoid taking on too much of the turn where trees await.
Sitting on top of the hill is the 10th Green
Playing the approach is uphill, allowing for a large collection area to the right of the green and some seriously deep bunkers. The green itself has gentle slopes and is not overly tricky. Sometimes its the simplest things don’t need to be overly complicated or tricked up to get desired results. With a bit of traditional design, this hole was still enjoyable.
Hole 11 – 343 meter par 4
Another mid length par 4 which turns to the right. With a tee shot over a small rise, the green is unsighted. At the peak of the rise, trees either side encroach, leaving a narrow alley.
Approach from 11th Fairway
Playing the approach is to an elevated green, with bunkers lining the front left side. A good hole using the natural contours of the land for the hole length, with smart placement of the bunkers to give a bit of a challenge.
Hole 12 – 177 meter par 3
A long par 3 which plays to a slightly elevated green. From the sheltered tee, play is almost through a chute before reaching the exposed green.
Shared bunkers between the 12th Green and 18th Fairway
The main place to avoid on this hole is left, with the large bunkers, being extremely deep. As for the putting surface it is multi-tiered, with the back half being raised. Looks menacing from the tee, but allows for a variety in play with the right being fairly open. However chipping from that side is to a down slope on the green, bringing the bunkers into play.
Hole 13 – 320 meter par 4
Shorter par 4 with an elevated tee shot. There is a small carry to the fairway, but the main danger is the bunkers down the left, although if it is sprayed right a large tree will block most shots to the green.
Conservation on the Course
Who says golf courses mostly damage land. Glad to see The Grange Golf Club doing there bit to conserve flora, which is located to the left of the 13th tee.
Fairway bunkers in play on the 13th fairway
Landing in the fairway bunkers will require a spectacular shot to reach the green, which itself is surrounded in sand.
The 13th Green between the Beach
This is one of the largest greens on the East course, but it is also the most fortified. With bunkers at every corner, plus an extra for good measure, this elevated green will punish anything not on line. This was an enjoyable hole. From the tee there was risk and reward on offer for those trying to shorten the length. With the approach there was some skill required to not get in one of the five bunkers. There was a slight opening allowing the ball to be run in, but still had to carry the front bunker.
Hole 14 – 353 meter par 4
Back to the more classic design was hole fourteen, a medium length par 4. This dogleg left hole plays to a hill, beyond which everything else is unseen, bar the big bunker embedded to the left.
Approach from the 14th Fairway
Once over the rise on the fairway, a large gully must be carried to reach the green. This is bigger than it looks. Failing to make the distance could see the ball repel a little way back, or stop dead at least. Another large bunker is found to the right of the green, which has two distinct tiers. Lots of area around the green which can see some imagination used getting the ball to the hole. Always a sucker for classic design.
Beware of the Snake – Real ones not the long putt
Something pretty familiar on Australian golf courses are snakes. Had me thinking about all the perils of playing golf I have encountered so far on this journey. Worth a little read.
Hole 15 – 111 meter par 3
Stated as the shortest and easiest par 3 on the East course, this hole plays from an elevated tee. Looks simple enough, but club selection is critical.
Hourglass 15th Green
The putting surface is shaped like an hourglass and is the longest green at 43 meters, hence the reason to be correct with club selection. Very narrow and the back portion cannot be seen from the tee, as it slopes away. Finding either bunker to a front pin position will be difficult and could result in a tennis match from the sand. Very cleverly designed hole, especially the green complex. Can cater for numerous scenarios with the areas for pin positions. The big bail out area for those not so confident ensures fun for all levels of player.
Hole 16 – 460 meter par 5
From the tee you play up a hill to a wide fairway. Other than tress lining either side, this fairway is quite wide and should be easily found. There is no real danger until your second shot, when the fairway traps come into play. At this point the hole takes a slight turn to the right.
Slightly elevated 16th green
The green sits slightly elevated on the left, allowing for two large bunkers to be built into the side. A false front feeds the ball away down in from of these, which could leave a tricky chip. A fairly sedate hole compared to some of the others on the course, but still can be challenging if into the wind.
Hole 17 – 395 meter par 4
The penultimate hole is the longest par 4. With two teeing areas available to allow an extra hole to be brought into play. I was playing from the newer section, which requires a carry over sandy waste to reach the fairway. The hole doglegs to the left at this point, but has a bunker towards the right which can be reached from the tee. Quite a wide landing area, due to the fact the old fairway comes in from the right. Did make it a little trickier finding my way along the hole though.
Two tiered 17th green
This green complex was one which stood out for me. From just short of the bunkers, I could see numerous scenarios depending on where the pin was, of course where your ball was. Finding the large bunker complex to the right is obviously not the best place, especially if the pin is on the shelf of the green. Missing left requires a delicate touch back otherwise you could be on the wrong portion of the green. Nicely designed hole, especially from the new tee position.
Hole 18 – 474 meter par 5
Finishing off is the longest hole on course and to me felt like the narrowest as well. From the tee it is almost like playing through a tunnel. The trees squeeze in from either side and the fairway looks too narrow to hit. The beauty of optical illusions. This hole has a slight turn to the right from the tee, then left on the approach.
Various Fairway bunkers along the 18th
For both the tee shot and the approach, bunkers will be in play. This would be one of the more undulating holes on the East course, with many humps being encountered in the second portion of the fairway.
Large undulating 18th green
In what is hopefully the last iron shot for the day, the approach must carry over a hill to the green, which has a steep false front and large collection area to the left. One lone bunker sits beside the green, but from further back on the fairway, it looks to be hundreds (slight exaggeration). Strong finishing hole to test the nerves. Would be even better if it wasn’t so tight.
So what did I think of the East course at The Grange Golf Club. This is probably been one of the hardest to separate emotion from my judgement. My first thoughts were not that high in fact. The course seemed too penal. Quite narrow fairways. In hindsight all that went out the window and I re-examined what the course was really like.
In summary the course seemed to have a good balance of holes offering different variety. The par 3 were all different lengths with 66 meters between the shortest and longest, but the par 5s had only 18 meters difference between them. The hole directions varied throughout the course, although most of the front were in a similar direction.
The back nine seemed to be the stronger of the two, due to more variety in direction of holes, greater differences in hole lengths between each par type and seemed to have slightly wider fairways, giving more flexibility in play, although the last was probably the narrowest hole on the course. It might be also the design of the back. Most seemed to be a more traditional/classic style, where as the front had a lot more waste areas in play and more open space at times. As for the waste areas, three were lined along water hazards. It looked effective, but still unsure on this, as it is the first time seeing this in play on any course I can recall.
Bunkering on the course was very effective, certainly catching the eye, which you would expect on a Norman course, but coming into play when not taking strategy of the hole into account. The green complexes were also top standard. I always enjoy when the surrounds are quite short, opening up options on how to get the ball into the hole.
On the day of playing I favoured the West course quite heavily. Now I am swayed a little more back towards the East, but still not sure if it is enough to become my number one choice of the two. There were certainly stand out holes, the run from 3-7, 12-15 and 17. Give me another six months and the mind may change.
I can say the staff were very helpful, making me feel welcome, from the proshop to the bar. Lunch service was good, allowing me to watch those teeing off on the West 1st hole, but also coming up the West 18th.
How to play at The Grange Golf Club:
1. Be invited by a member
2. Be an interstate or overseas visitor who is a member of a golf club
I played the course as an interstate visitor.