Developer Mike Hill’s vision for the resort at Links Lady Bay was formed many years ago (whilst working in the area as a sheep shearer, of all things) and it began to take shape in the early 1990s with the acquisition of some land from several local farmers. The intention was to build a course without an exclusive membership or waiting list. Instead, it was to be a resort-style, highly accessible complex that would be enjoyed by all golfers.
The golf course was designed by the runner up in both the 1975 Open and 1980 Masters, legendary golfer Jack Newton, and he – assisted by Graeme Grant and John Spencer – routed two returning loops of nine holes over the free-draining, sandy landscape at Links Lady Bay. The layout opened to much acclaim in 2000, quickly establishing itself as the top public access course in the state.
With wonderful views of the Fleurieu coastline, Links Lady Bay offers golfers an authentic links-like experience with subtly undulating fairways, cunningly-placed bunkers and smooth, true greens – all that you might expect to find on one of the great links courses in Great Britain or Ireland, actually. The long par three 17th is considered the signature hole on the card, played to a sloping green protected by deep sand traps to the right of the putting surface.
I can see why they use the word Links in the name, with the sandy base and the style of bunkering throughout, but in the true sense this is not a links course: more a links-style course. The wide open vistas of the nearby ocean, thick fescue rough and the double green at the 13th/16th are more nods to the games history.
I like this course; the routing is interesting the way the two nines loop around and back on each other, meaning that the prevailing sea breeze is always coming from a different direction each hole. But the highlight for me is the consecutive short par 4s on the back nine at 13 and 14. There is a teaser for these on the front nine at the 4th, but that hole is more about the short approach onto the right part of the green. The 13th is a driveable hole for the big hitters, or for those playing from the correct tee boxes, but with OOB left and only the barest look at the green slightly doglegged to the right, it's not an easy shot. And there are maybe a hundred bunkers in proximity to the green (there may not be an actual hundred, but it certainly feels like it approaching the green when the resting place of your drive is not immediately apparent!). Then on the 14th all is visible from the tee, but the presence of a snaking (usually dry) creek and a small lake to the right and right front of the green means that maximum distance on the drive may not be the smartest play.
Having the two short par 4s played consecutively is a design feature that could be criticised, but I like the mini-break effect they create together and the many different ways each of the holes can be played.
The course is far enough out of the city of Adelaide to feel like a country escape, but close enough that a visit doesn't take up a whole day; a happy medium for those looking to get out of the city for a quality game. Mind you, there are several great golf courses in Adelaide such that leaving might never need be an option! If headed past LLB toward the Fleurieu Peninsula or Victor Harbour, a game at Mount Compass (formerly Fleurieu GC) is recommended.
A true links style course set in a wonderful location here in the Fleurieu region in South Australia backing onto the Lady Bay Vineyard. For the first time here, I really enjoyed my experience! With many dogleg holes keeping the player thinking about the best line to the green complexes. A fairly flat course, with good use of natural terrain that does take the golfer up and down in parts namely the par 3 15th! Amazing bunkers much like the golfer experiences in the UK & Ireland. Water surprisingly comes into play on a few holes. Fairways were wide enough but they do punish the errant drive, some holes more than others. Greens were of a great standard testing all comers. Great conditioning on display here which makes me think this course will rise the rankings.