Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club was established in 1927 on Crown Land where Gold Coast Airport is now located. The club moved 5 kilometres southeast to its present location on the west bank of the River Tweed in 1936, starting out with a 9-hole layout.
In February 2021, course superintendent Peter Lonergan told us:
“The original course in the 1930s was laid out primarily by club members and volunteers as were the extensions to 27 (in the 70s) and then finally 36 holes. There is mention of some people giving advice as to the routing but nothing really official. Club life member Alf Rush is credited with a lot of the work over many of the early years.
Geoff and Ted Parslow did a masterplan in the 1980s which saw a lot of changes done. Graham Papworth did the work when part of the West course was redeveloped in 1995. Peter Williams, former course superintendent at Royal Melbourne, designed and oversaw the complete re-construction of the River course greens in 1999/2000.
Richard Chamberlain oversaw a course improvement plan in 2015 (which involved the removal of many bunkers and trees) and Graham Papworth assisted with the redesign of the West greens in 2017 /2018 when they were converted to TifEagle.”
Today, the River course extends to 5,919 metres from the back markers, which is just a little shorter than the West, demanding accuracy and placement of shots on a heavily treed layout. Highlight holes include short par fours at the 11th, 12th and 13th which are all routed through a section of rainforest.
Given that all 36 holes are squeezed into 101 hectares both courses at Coolangatta & Tweed heads are necessarily compact. The River Course occupies a relatively flat, heavily treed site by The Tweed River.
Mature trees frame the fairways, testing driving accuracy- on some holes the fairways are so narrow you feel you need to walk single file!
Dogleg holes abound, and with the size of the trees you need to position your ball to allow a clear approach. It can be a bit 'samey' at times, but it is good quality golf nevertheless
With two courses wedged into such a small piece of land there have to be some compromises. For me it was the walks between tee and green for holes 2 and 9. You do get your only view of the Tweed River, but 400 metres is too far to walk to a tee..(let alone twice)
The River Course at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads is a nice course in a wonderful location- right on the river, just over the border from The Gold Coast and near Byron Bay and the beautiful northen beaches of NSW. The course demands accuracy rather than length and will test any golfer.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.