Featuring some pleasant elevation changes and several strategic water hazards, the course at Araluen Golf Resort was laid out by Michael Coate and the late Roger Mackay – the duo who, along with Ian Baker Finch, designed the acclaimed Kennedy Bay course – with two distinct circuits of nine routed around a couple of residential developments.
The par five 1st offers a stiff start to the round at Araluen, dominated as it is by a large tree 165 yards from the green on the right hand side of the fairway. Architect Roger Mackay had wanted the tree removed during construction but it remained firmly in place. When he died, a plaque was put on the tree trunk stating: “If you've just hit this tree, don't blame Roger, he wanted it cut down.”
The front nine ends with a thrilling downhill par four where the approach to the green must carry a lake protecting the putting surface. On the back nine, the 16th – said to be the hole around which the course was designed – is a wonderful par three where the tee overlooks a drop of almost 200 feet to a green that sits behind a pond.
The condition of the course deteriorated after it hosted the 2005 WA PGA Championships, largely due to drought and bushfires. Scotsman Gordon Heron, who previously worked on the Ailsa course at Turnberry, was brought in to bring the course back up to previous high standards and his efforts have resulted in significant improvements to the layout.
This is a good track that is undone by the upkeep. Araluen could be one of the best, as course design goes it is up there. The use of the rolling hills is great, the change in elevation presents a challenge. But there is a big however, the however is the state of the course. It just isn't good enough, the lack of maintenance is telling and depending on the day you play their it could be the greens, fairways etc... that isn't up to scratch.
The par four 9th and the par three 16th are the two signature and noteworthy holes. Araluen is a course that adds the extra challenge in not knowing what condition it may be in which is disappointing for somewhere that could potentially be amongst the best.
Araluen has grown on me since playing there 2 years ago. It was like walking into a ghost town though,2 ladies at the pro-shop cleaning, no bar open, no front receptionist. Weird. Seen 4 others on course that day, one of whom was a resident of the surrounding estate.
To the course. The layout is superb, great routing using all the possible undulation available up in the Roleystone Hills.
Fairways were in reasonable state, though if you went off them it was tough to recover and best be looking out for snakes in the summer.
Great view can be had of the surrounding bushland with many Kangaroos visible to the golfer.
Some screamers of holes like the 9th - a great downhill par 4 with water carry and 17th - par 3,60m drop-off easy down to the green, must be seen to be believed!