Located next to the meandering waters of the Murray River, Corowa Golf Club started out in 1903 with a rudimentary 9-hole sand scrape course which was laid out on the site of where the Corowa High School now stands.
The club didn’t last long there, moving to Bangerang Park the following year and remaining on that property until 1928, when it relocated to Corowa Common. Al Howard re-designed the layout in 1955, with irrigation for grass greens and tees following a year later.
Another nine holes were added on the west side of the property in 1979 before a 35-room motel was added in 1992, making stay-and-play for visiting golfers a reality. Ever progressive for a provincial club, Corowa added a 58-seat boutique cinema to its list of attractions in 2018.
I've been intending to play Corowa for years, having skirted all around it with great regional courses at Tocumwal, Barooga, Yarrawonga and Thurgoona. Like those courses, Corowa is a beautiful, eucalyptus-lined layout with many really good holes.
The course has 18 holes on the river side (holes 10-27) and the first nine on the north side of the clubhouse. The main course (1-18) consists of the more open and in some ways more interesting first nine, whereas the riverside holes on the back nine are reasonably tight with both drives and many approaches impacted by trees. Bunkers feature more on the front nine and across the whole course aren't generally penal so much as the trees are. Holes 19-27 are next to the back nine and quite similar in character, while being tighter and shorter than 10-18.
My favourite holes were the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 11th, 14th and 17th. The 3rd requires negotiating a huge eucalyptus positioned at a 90-degree left turn to the green (and as I discovered, a power pole), presenting a really excellent risk/reward design. The 6th demands an accurate drive through large bunkers and then an elevated green. This is followed by the 7th back the opposite direction, with a large swale at driver distance then slightly uphill to a narrow green. On a still day these were the best holes on the course and I imagine in any wind they could wreak havoc as it is the most open part of the course.
The 11th is a riverside par 5 and the trees loom large on the drive, as they do on the 14th with the design pushing you away from the best line into the green, from the right. For a lefty with a fade this was a tough hole. Again on the 17th it's hard to decide where to drive, with the most magnificent river gum to negotiate.
As it happened I played the third nine before the main course and while it is definitely 'the third nine', it was enjoyable and a great warm up for the main event. The drive on the 19th is excellent from the high tee, the 20th is one of the best holes on the course and the 24th a beautiful short par 4 with another elevated tee shot.
Like most of the Murray River courses, I would happily play Corowa anytime. If you're looking for competition, they host plenty of annual tournaments including June long weekend; Corowa Cup; Riverina Womens Golf Champs (in 2022); and several multi-course events along the Murray.