The 18-hole layout at Dunsborough Lakes Golf Club is set out as two large loops of nine holes that are routed around a substantial residential development, with water providing the main challenge over the home stretch, starting at the 15th.
Golfing in the South West is a whole new experience; the way to go encompasses a leisurely 18 holes followed by a trip to a brewery or vineyard. On a warm, sunny Friday afternoon, we stood on the first at Dunsborough Lakes Golf Course, our golfing weekend about to begin and no better way for it to start. A course of endless vistas, panoramic views and glorious golf holes.
Built within a residential estate just outside of Dunsborough, residents enjoying the sun in their gardens watch the wannabe pros produce their best efforts. The course itself is flat like the surrounding terrain. The challenge comes from the length off the blue tees, well-placed bunkers and sharp doglegs that force your hand on club selection.
The first is a par five that eases you into what is to come. Long enough to make the big hitters think twice about getting on in two. The fairways are lush, green and well kept, only the unluckiest will end up in a divot. Then onto the greens simply outstanding, in my humble opinion the best greens in South West WA, on par with Karrinyup, Mount Lawley and Nedlands in Metropolitan Perth.
Errant balls are findable but often leave you with no window of opportunity to the green. The only option is a recovery shot back onto the fairway. Nearly every hole has strategically placed fairway bunkers and well-defended greens. The front nine builds up to the last three holes.
First, a par three that looks extremely inviting. There is hidden water on both sides and a massive bunker that sits to the left of the green. The day we played the greens staff had placed the pin on the back left, this brought the bunker into play for anyone ballsy enough to go for the birdie.
Then onto a lengthy par five, a big bunker on the right to catch the bigger hitters off the blue tees and water blocking out the front right of the green. Put these together those going for an eagle might think twice. The ninth has houses on the left, which force all but the very best to play up the middle and not take on the dogleg. The direct route as the crow flies makes this a shorter par four however, the dogleg forces most to take an extra 50 or so metres. The ditch across the fairway must be the bane of so many golfers who think they have hit a worldy drive only to find themselves taking an unplayable drop.
The back nine has a slightly unorthodox layout compared to its neighbours, still par 36 but three of each par three, four and five. You take on back to back par fives early in the nine and in the sun that can take its toll. The 10th is a fun dogleg that requires a solid drive over the bunker on the left will leave you a wedge into the green. Those not so confident can punt one down the middle and then have a long iron towards a well-protected green.
The next few holes are pleasant to play and make good use of the terrain, with plenty of sandy bunkers to swallow up your balls. Challenging to all levels of golfer and build you up towards the final slog home. From the 15th hole, water is in play, you either have to play over or have it to your left and right. The 16th stands out for me, the tee boxes sitting back with water between your tee-shot and fairway. A fade will result in the sound of a splash and a ball never to be seen again. Don't get clobbered late on as anything offline on the 16th, 17th or 18th holes will be punished.
Coming in close to your handicap at Dunsborough Lakes is a real achievement. There are too many parts of the golf course where your wayward shot will leave you rueing missed opportunities. If you are lucking enough to be there on a day when the wind isn't gusty off the Indian Ocean, you might have the chance to tame this beast of a course. Dunsborough Lakes quite rightly sits amongst the best golf courses in South West WA, well worth a visit or even making it the basis for a golfing getaway.