The third oldest club in Sydney, Bonnie Doon began life as Marrickville Golf Club in 1897 when members played on a 12-hole course laid out in the Sydney suburb of Tempe.
Ten years later, the club moved to an 18-hole course at Arncliffe, changing its name in the process of decamping to a new location. Finally, in 1947, the expansion of the Sydney airport caused the club to move to its current sandy site at Pagewood.
Prosper Ellis originally designed the Pagewood course, which opened in 1949, then Ross Watson carried out an upgrade in 1995 when he built on the strength of the demanding par fours on the scorecard to fashion a formidable test of golf.In 2011, the new design partners of Mike Clayton and Geoff Ogilvy began work on stage one of a three-phase extensive redesign that involved the removal of exotic trees, the introduction of two new holes, the reworking of the current first to fourth and eighth holes and the construction of a new practice facility. In late April 2014, play began on six new holes, marking the completion of the second stage of the redesign. The final phase of work is likely to include further modifications to a few holes located in the northeastern corner of the Bonnie Doon property, which were redesigned in stage one.
The OCCM reimagining has elevated this sand based beauty to both regional and national prominence. I had not played the layout prior to getting 50 holes in here over two days. The abiding memory is of generally expansive playing corridors which provide a number of strategic choices from the tee. Little acknowledgments to the origins of the game, such as punchbowl greens, a number of blind approaches, heroic carries and most delightfully a number of short par 4’s ensures that the interest level is maintained throughout.
The course is on a compact piece of land, separated by a busy road, which must be negotiated on two occasions, as you move to and from the main paddock. My favourite holes include the short second , the 8th with its split fairway, the visually imposing par 5 14th and the short ultra strategic 16th.
Boundary issues and an unsympathetic council have forced the designers OCCM to create the 5th a hole that mixes opinion, effectively a layup is required from the tee with a long second to a semi-blind green, protected with bunkers to its rear. I really like the questions this holes asks of the golfer, however, I understand that this view is not universally shared amongst members. Notwithstanding the above, Bonnie Doon represents a welcome return to the best in sand based Australian golf with a bit of welcome quirk thrown in to spice things up. A golfing visit to Sydney would not be complete without ticking this one off your list.
For more information on my Australian golfing adventure, please click the following link: The Long Road to Van Diemen's Land
Founded in 1897 Bonnie Doon is a private golf club in and around two other outstanding courses, located in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
Bonnie Doon GC is a quality track and once all the upgrades are done you will return to the Top 25 courses in Australia no question. The team led by Michael Clayton has been operating here with the 'refurb for a few years now and the course is almost fully completed. The course plays over rolling sand dunes and features large undulating greens similar to what was done at Royal Canberra. The new wasteland look to the course is outstanding and certainly enhances the course in the memorability category.
Views of the city and neighbouring courses can now be seen through tree removal which the course well and truly required. There won't be too many occurrences where a lost ball will occur now that shrub and bush like plants have made way to showcase the true sand dune area it was born to have.
Decent elevation occurs at Bonnie Doon given the sand dune base, as well as good routing for a course that isn't too long at 5909m