The Joondalup Resort is a 30-minute drive north of Perth, a few miles from the Sunset Coast in Connolly, an estate created in the late 1980s. There are three 9-hole courses – Lake, Dune and Quarry – laid out over some severe bushland terrain within the resort.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Joondalup – “the place of shining waters” – is one of only a handful of projects undertaken in Australia by its esteemed course architect.
The three courses are routed over a harsh landscape of bush, gum trees, rocky outcrops, limestone quarries, lakes and dunes – quite a combination which allows the much used phrase “no two holes are the same” to be used here appropriately.
To say that golf at Joondalup is challenging is something of an understatement. Golfers of all abilities will have their skills put to the test, whether it is from playing an approach over a 150-yard long bunker to a green protected by a 30-foot high rock face or a shot from an elevated position to a green guarded by a 150-foot high cliff on one side and a 60-foot deep ditch on the other.
There are two great par three holes on the Quarry/Dune composite course. The 137-yard 3rd hole on the Quarry nine is all carry across an abandoned quarry gorge from the tee to the green and the 130-yard 7th hole on the Dune loop plays to an elevated, three tiered green with bunkers front left and back right.
Joondalup is a true golfing experience, from the first to the last you will need to be on top of your game. All three combinations of holes will challenge even the best golfers and you will come away knowing that you tried to tame one of the best courses in the country.
The quarry layout on all three holes leads to an abundance of great and feature golf holes. All three nines kick off with daunting par fours that are either stroke index one or two depending on your combination. All three have the ability to set the tone for what is to come. Perfectly manicured fairways, large well placed bunkers and as many rise and falls as Reginald Perrin present a challenge and a test to all golfers; add into the mix monster greens that can leave you with a 30m plus putt after hitting them in regulation and you have a course that sets the bar so high that few in Australia reach or exceed it.
Each nine has stand out holes, on the Quarry you have the 2nd a par four with elevated tees, a huge bunker sitting well below you that eat balls for breakfast and then from around bunker a 140m uphill shot onto a blind stepped green. This is followed by everyone's favourite a short par three where everything between the tee and green is out of bounds quarry, anything remotely going right will be punished. The 4th a longish par five can only be described as spectacular, a long drive is needed to have any chance of getting onto the elevated green in two, this hole has a double dogleg and as the fairway rises into the distance on the second part there is also a 120m long bunker if hit leaves you facing a sheer cliff face.
The Lakes is a different beast, it has the highest sections of the course which brings the wind off the Indian Ocean into play. The par four 5th and 7th are the two stand out holes for me. The 5th is a downhill shot with a split fairway, too far to the left and what seems like endless bunkers are there to meet you, the right is the way to go but anything wayward will leave a challenging shot in. The 7th is your classic risk reward hole, take on the wind with your driver and you could be sitting pretty with less than 150m into a massive green, but a random gust can push your shot anywhere off target. The par five 9th is a lovely hole, downhill with water for the final 150m to your left and perfectly placed bunkers to the right close to the green, make this hole the perfect ending to any game.
Then we come to the Dunes, and this nine has a few tricks up its sleeve. I really like the par 4 2nd hole, a downhill drive to an elevated green with a perfectly placed tree between the two, with bunkers to the left and right making a par here is even my satisfying. The par three 4th is a great golfers hole and anything right could be rewarded with a lucky bounce off the quarry face onto the green. The par four 6th hole is a nice challenge, what seems like a good drive could disappear into the bush without you knowing and leave you looking in the wrong place, the tee is blind and you are playing downhill to and elevated green.
When you put any combination together at Joondalup you have a course that should rightly sit in the top echelons of golf courses in Australia and in my humble opinion its current rating is a joke and does not reflect how good this course really is!
The terrain rises and falls, there is host of natural trees, plants and vegetation and the soil is almost pure sand- the soil on which all good links courses are formed. The course is near the sea but RTJII doesn't describe the course as links. Its 27 holes are named after it's surroundings. The championship course is made up of the Quarry and dunes 9s, with the lakes 9 more toward your open links style. Amazing usage of a former quarry and photos dont do this resort justice
The three nine-hole courses – named Dune, Lake & Quarry – are routed through some dramatic but typical Australian bush landscape. As well as the abundant gum trees, black boys, and kangaroos the course meanders through large dunes, past lakes, and through a former quarry site.
Whilst the site borders on being too severe in places, it is a course that captures the golfer’s imagination, and always has the first time player anxious to see what is around the next corner.
The standout nine is the Quarry course – with nine quality holes. Holes 2-6 are remarkable, and holes 3-5 in and around the quarry are world class.
On the Dune nine, holes 3 & 4 – a short uphill par 4, and a long downhill par 3 respectively are also within the quarry walls and strong holes.
Joondalup is a tremendous golfing adventure, and my favourite golf destination in the west. Stay a few days and play it twice – it's worth it.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I'm a massive fan of Trent Jones Jnr courses and Joondalup certainly didn't disappoint. There's great variety between the three 9's and as usual with RTJJ courses a lot of different looking shots from the variety of tees. Great practice facilities are present and needed to get you ready for the course, especially the massive sloping putting green which is actually not that ridiculous when you come to the greens on the course. They are mostly huge and with great big challenging slopes. Perhaps a little too much but great to test your game and you really need to hit greens in the right spots. All in all a fun experience at a friendly venue.