Forster Tuncurry Golf Club started in 1950 with a 9-hole course designed by A.W. East from Sydney. Another couple of holes were added in 1952 then additional land was secured to extend the layout to a full eighteen holes in 1970.
Within a short space of time, the popularity of the new course was such that a decision was made to form another golf club, The Great Lakes Country Club, on 148 acres of land located five kilometres further along the coast.
Kel Nagle and and Mike Cooper were appointed as course architects but a year before the new layout opened for play in 1984 – and in order to, in the words of the club’s website, “keep the momentum on the construction of the new course” – the two clubs merged to (confusingly) be known in future by the same name.
Eleven holes opened first on the new Tuncurry course, with the final seven holes arriving a year later. Featuring only one par five, the older Forster course extends to a very modest 4,868 metres, while its younger sibling can be stretched to a very competitive 6,301 metres.
State funding was obtained in 2020 for course improvements by Craig Parry (including modifications to the 3rd hole and relocation of the 9th green) , along with a new pro shop and amenities building, which will also house the state's only regional Australian Heritage Golfing Museum.
The Tuncurry course is located in some exciting golfing land. The rolling sand landscape is heavily vegetated with bracken and a variety of native trees. The site is somewhat reminscent of the Melbourne Sandbelt or London Heathlands.
The natural movement in the fairways further enhances the golfing experience. Many of the greens are slightly raised, and whilst they don't exhibit wild contours there is a subtlety to them that keeps you on your toes.
When you miss a green you will find you have a number of ways to play the recovery shot- it's a part of the game that I really enjoyed at Tuncurry and in his Master Plan for the club Craig Parry has identified it as a focal point for improving the playablity of the course going forward.
Whilst the course is not overly bunkered, the design does very well to incorporate the native trees as features, defining the doglegs and framing the holes. It complements the strategic bunkering that is present
It is a key point of difference for the Tuncurry course, but will need to be continually monitored as some of the tee shots are getting a little tight and need opening up.
The Tuncurry course is impressive, and getting better. With Craig Parry currently making improvements, I would expect Tuncurry to increasingly come into discussions about the best rural courses in Australia.
It is worth travelling to play!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.