Situated a couple of kilometres inland from where the Margaret River reaches the Indian Ocean, the course at Margaret River Golf Club was fashioned in the early 1950s by local golf enthusiasts clearing the thick coastal bushland to carve out an 18-hole layout that winds is way up and down the slopes of the coastal ridge.
Feature holes include the slightly right doglegging par five 7th, where a creek runs across the fairway 80 metres from the green and a pond lies to the right of the putting surface. The par three hole immediately following at the 8th also demands respect as there’s water protecting the triangular-shaped green to the front, right and left.
On the longer back nine, two par five holes are played back-to-back at the 13th and 14th, where the two-tiered green on the 13th slopes from left to right, with the opposite camber on the 14th. The downhill 18th offers panoramic views from the tee before the fairway then veers right towards the home green.
If someone were to produce a top 100 list for the most beautiful and picturesque golf courses in the world, Margaret River would be knocking on the door of the top 10. When you add slick greens and well-kept fairways into the mix, you end up with a sensational golfing experience.
Starting on the 10th meant we took on the hills and elevation early on. It was a cold winter's morning, chilly wind off the Indian Ocean that felt like it had travelled up from the Antarctic, so being rugged up was a must. But this didn't hamper the golf or the start of a unique experience. With Galahs singing in the trees and the Corellas prancing around the fairways, the native fauna was out in force as the sun came up.
With the sun rising in the sky, the shadows soon disappeared from the fairways, and the true beauty of this magnificent course came into focus. The few bunkers you encounter are well-placed for players off any tee box. The fairways were immaculate and fast running. A ball hit slightly offline was punished with a final position well away from where you were aiming.
The 10th gently eases you into the golf course. Standing on the tee a decent drive down the middle will leave you with a simple shot at the green. From this point on, each hole serves up a challenge in different ways. The 12th looks like a straightforward par three. However, the final 10 metres into the green are brutal and can ruin a decent tee shot. The greens are small compared to their neighbours, are fast and in exceptional condition.
The 17th is a short par four hole, uphill with bunkers left and right of the green. The 17th is the kind of hole that can make or break your round. On the scorecard, it is short at around 280m, with most golfers being comfortable getting on in two. But this adds to the challenge as anything wayward from the big hitters will be punished, well-placed bunkers protect the green, and the green itself has nuances to the breaks that are hard to read.
Playing the back nine first meant we got the hills out of the way, and as we started on the front nine, the sun was rising high into the sky and drying out the fairways and greens. The ball was starting to run, and gaining distance became easier. The dogleg 1st will challenge many golfers to put their driver away and go for the sensible shot down the middle. This tactic may sacrifice distance but gaining accuracy for good placement on the fairway opening up the green.
The par three 4th is one of the standout golfing holes. Long off the tee with a large but narrow green, errant shots will be punished, leaving you rueing missed opportunities. The home run in the front nine is an enjoyable romp surrounded by massive tuart trees and kangaroos. The overwater 8th par three is short but good fun. The final par four 9th requires a decent drive to allow you any chance of regulation golf and the smile that comes with completing a course that has served up challenge after challenge.
Margaret River is one of the best regional golf courses in the best golfing State in Australia. South West WA serves up a string of interesting, good quality courses that produce a challenge to all levels of golfer and Margaret River is the perfect example of this. Golf followed by good wine is always a great combination.