Hawks Nest Golf Club can be located off the Pacific Highway following signs for Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens about an hour North of Newcastle.
The first point I would make about the course is that it offers extremely good value for money in a country where golf can be very expensive. An 18-hole round will cost $30 (Aus). It is also fairly quiet through the week, although I believe it can be busy at weekends. The notice board would also suggest that it hosts a fairly comprehensive list of competitions so it could be worth phoning ahead to make sure that you get a tee time.
The terrain is fundamentally links as it is located beside the beach and has the sandy ground you would expect to find. The course design however is very different to any links course I have ever played in the U.K. The greens and fairways are more consistent with what you would expect to find on a parkland course with fairly flat greens and mostly flat fairways, basically lacking the trade mark roles and freak bounces that make links golf so enjoyable. It may simply be that the land on offer did not have the dunes to work with or these may have been flattened to create a member friendly course. This course obviously still gets its fair share of wind though and is designed so that it has a fair mix of holes playing in to, against, and with side winds.
The holes are a decent mix of all of the pars with four par fives and four par threes, two of each on the outward and inward nines. The favored design appears to be a slight dogleg with a corridor of predominantly eucalyptus trees on either side. This should allow the opportunity to spot the occasional Koala although I wasn’t lucky enough to see one during my round. The bird life is exceptional and you are serenaded by an ever changing chorus of bird song as you walk round which is a real pleasure.
The stand out hole is the 18th, which is a short par four with the built in hazard of sunken marsh ground below the tee box leaving a narrow strip of fairway on the far side for the shorter hitter, or simply on a windy day. The course was in good condition when I played in October 2007 (Spring in Australia). The fairways and bunkers are well maintained by what appeared to be a small army of green keepers, and the greens are frankly as good as you get. Every one is well manicured and totally true in its roll. All in all, a good solid golf course and one which I am sure anyone would struggle to criticize too harshly especially given the reasonable green fee.Article by Peter Birch