The course at Brookwater Golf Club has become quite a talking point in its few short years of existence. It is essentially a public course and therefore receives a very good airing with the golfing public. The word from the golfing vox populi is that it is a very tough test, too tough some say.
Brookwater has been carved out of native eucalyptus forest on rolling land. Some more exuberant reviewers have called it Queensland’s answer to Augusta National. Even if it isn’t quite the dogwood and azalea lined glory of America’s South, the presence of the eucalyptus closely hugging the fairways certainly renders a unique atmosphere, particularly in the earlier holes where no sign of residential development is visible.
The Greg Norman and Bob Harrison design has been executed very well. The holes sit comfortably in the land without anything seeming too forced. The course is laid out as two circuits of nine, the front nine in an anti-clockwise direction and the back nine clockwise. No two fairways run parallel and with the ubiquitous eucalyptus cover you have a nice feeling of isolation.
For the vast majority of us who have only a vague idea as to how the ball will leave the driver face, there is a requirement to plot your way around this course. I found that the best way to do this is to gauge the widest point on the fairway and club to that point. By making some allowance for miss-hits, you lessen the risk of becoming a red-faced woodsman. By following this strategy, the longer hitter will find the driver superfluous on most of the par fours.
The above passage is an extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
Greg Norman Golf Course Design completed a renovation in 2017 after a progressive overhaul that included strategic design changes to greens, fairways and bunkers.
Brookwater Golf Club is a dramatic and challenging course carved out of a steeply undulating bush site. Norman & Harrison have used great imagination to create some really spectacular holes unlike anything I have seen elsewhere. The playing corridors are extremely tight and framed by tall eucalyptus trees whose stark white trunks dominate proceedings.
This course is not for the faint hearted and will clearly favour the player with a strong ball flight. A number of greens are elevated and protected by imposing sandbelt style bunkering. The bunkers are often huge with high faces prominent- highlighted by the stark white sand. It is a major feature of the course and while it looks terrific the size and number of the bunkers mean that most players will get plenty of use of their sand irons! It’s a championship course and will challenge any level of golfer.
Brookwater is a very impressive course, but it is tough!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I first came to Brookwater in 2010, and loved it, despite the fact that it regularly dug me a hole in the ground every time I strayed off line. So on hearing that there had been some changes (mainly in the vein of restoration and some softening of green contours), I took an opportunity to go and assess what may or may not have changed.
And I’ve got to say it – I don’t love it as much. It’s true that my tastes in golf courses have changed – I’m a member of a links again now (for the second time in my life) and I’m enjoying the firm and fast conditions that brings. I’ve also come to appreciate the idea of strategic golf, with width off the tee, with the defences being provided by green and greenside hazards and contours.
Don’t get me wrong, Brookwater has some darn nice defences around the green, and the challenges presented to your approach and short game lend themselves to some spectacular shot-making opportunities, which for me is what’s fun about golf. But there’s also stern defences off the tee – it’s very narrow - heck, there’s stern defences everywhere. I still had a great time, and so will you if you don’t particularly care about your score. I never did understand why e.g. a 10 handicapper insists on being capable of potentially breaking 80 anywhere he plays. All golf courses are different and that’s a good thing.
For me, there was an opportunity to widen the playing corridors a little with the recent renovation, which wasn’t taken. It’s an unceasingly claustrophobic course and I saw spots where a bit of width could have added variety. Like 10 – you’re already faced with a daunting uphill approach, do you really need overhanging branches too, which you get if you’re only 10-15m off line? 13 had just had some thinning out of the trees without widening the corridor, which seems crazy because that hole is a tightrope. Feels like the wrong trees got taken out. 15 is just insanely demanding – although in this case, I think they widened it recently, and probably couldn’t do any more about it, due to a creek (?)
The ambience of the course has been lost a little with much of the bush flattened to make way for high end housing. These are the realities of funding golf courses and perhaps we need to remember that it doesn’t affect the gameplay, and accept it.
Still, there are many fabulous holes here (3, 4, 16, 17), my favourite of which was the par 5 17th. Great strategy here – easy to hit fairway, but if you’ve any designs on hitting the green in 2, then the perfect fade is required. Then you’d have the second to a tiny, fiercely guarded target which is only really feasible with a wedge in hand (for your 3rd) – but these are the shots we love to have a crack at, they’re the reason we play. Right?
A great course for pros or masochists. Even though it beat me up, I’d go back.
Another wicked design on the outskirts of Brisbane from The Shark, Greg Norman. Huge Eucalypts surround the whole course with tough tee shots these trees come into play, which requires the golfer to be very accurate from the tee box.
Massive undulations are current throughout this top 30 Australian course with bunkers that are Greg Norman design renowned, IE very dramatic.
Brookwater in some ways is a mini Augusta, as is Bonville GC in NSW.
Do yourself a favour and make the trek out to play here. Playable all year round
I can see why the other reviewers have made comparisons with Augusta – I’m guessing it’s the aesthetics of the place that did it – but the design is a million miles away from what the TV reveals every April at Masters time. This is a narrow and highly punishing golf course – I’m an 8 handicap, I played very well, hit 11/14 fairways, 9/18 GIR’s, did not 3 putt once, and still shot 15 over. This is golf on a tightrope, and there’s just so many double and triple bogeys waiting out there for you should you fall off. I only pulled my driver out 5 times, and probably that was overzealous – I’m guessing I have never been this conservative off the tee.
The first six holes are as stunning a run of holes as you’re likely to find anywhere, and the last 3 are also magnificent. In many senses, if you judged courses purely by adding up the relative qualities of each individual hole, this would be one of my favourite ever courses. The reason I can’t quite be this enthusiastic is that there’s too much of a feeling of sameness. Almost all of the holes are chutes through the trees. The huge majority of the green complexes follow one of two rules – either a pulpit or plateau green with bunkers left and right cutting into the front corners, or a green bunkered only down one side, with the green sloping towards the traps, and a depression at the top end presenting a downhill chip with little margin for errant touch. None of this detracts from a one-off visit, but the member I played with (a 4 handicapper) said he had grown a little tired of playing there after a couple of years. This is probably a reflection on the difficulty of the place, but I can see the potential for staleness to set in, and it is probably this very minor quibble that stops me considering this course to be a world-beater.
Still, overall I thought this place was fantastic, I love the fact that it’s very accessible to the public, and that it’s very reasonably priced. It’s very much my sort of course, and I would definitely recommend it to any serious golfer (anyone over 15 handicap might be advised to consider one of the more wide-open resort courses on the Gold Coast). But I know what the previous reviewer meant when he said he felt like a sleep afterwards – very apt. Matt Richardson