Located in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills, to the southeast of the city centre, Mount Osmond Golf Club can trace its origins back to 1927. Up until the 1950s, sheep were allowed on the course, bringing the club an income from grazing rights.
During World War II, the clubhouse was used as a convalescence hospital, with the course allowed to go to seed, but member working bees brought everything on and off the course back to their previous high standards once the war was over.
A major course development took place in 1963 with the construction of a four million-gallon reservoir. This ensured a guaranteed water supply for the irrigation of fairways and greens, which in turn meant that playing surfaces would always be in top condition.
Feature holes include the tough par four 3rd (rated stroke index 1); both short par fours at the 7th and 8th (skirting either side of the reservoir); the par three 16th (the shortest hole on the card); and the par five 18th, returning play to the clubhouse for the first time since leaving the 4th tee.
Interestingly, Sir Donald Bradman won the club championship twice here, in 1935 and 1949.
Mount Osmond Golf Course has ,without doubt, the most stunning views in South Australia and possibly even Australia. On a clear day you can see from Cape Jervis to the northern parts of The Mount Lofty Ranges, over 100 kilometres of incredibly beautiful coastline.
Now, first a disclaimer - I was a loyal member of this club for 20 years and above all MOGC is proof that a golf club is more than just a course.
When visiting golfers arrive in The Croweater state [apologies to MJW] they are almost certainly going to find themselves directed to the 5 ‘Tier One’ courses just to the west of the city and rightly so because they are classic and historical places but, if you are looking for a low key round of golf with a different dynamic then MO is for you. Arguably, it is the best of the ‘Tier 2 ‘courses in and around the city.
The historical record is a bit cloudy but it looks like the original layout was designed by the members, a little like the first iteration of Royal Adelaide and the above introduction has pretty well nailed it in regard to its progress up to the 1990’s. At that stage a plan was developed to upgrade the course and I believe Tony Cashmore [Thirteenth Beach, The Dunes] was asked to provide some options to modernise the layout. The committee at the time, with some foresight and to their credit, were acutely aware of the potential financial liability and so the improvements were carried out over a number of years and the financial burden on the members was never extreme.
Today MO is a lovely golf experience with an intensely loyal membership and totally different from the seaside courses. It is quite short by modern standards, a little light of 6000metres, and you rarely get a flat lie: one leg shorter than the other is the go! But, be aware, walking the course is quite a challenge and, first up, perhaps a cart should be considered. Without doubt, this is a second shot course and the longer hitters amongst us could easily leave the ‘Chief’ out of the bag.
OK, to the course itself:
Hole 1. Par 4, recently redesigned. The fairway slopes severely L to R as does the green.
A par here is a pretty good start
Hole 2. Par 3 uphill, One of the lesser holes on the course.
Hole 3. Par 4, signature hole. Originally a weak par 5 it is now a strong par 4. The first shot feels like you are hitting down a bowling alley - it needs to be laser straight to the top of the hill. Long second slightly downhill to quite a small green. Even if you reach, 2 putts can’t be presumed. Love it.
Hole 4. Par 3 slightly uphill with a small pond on the right that will only catch the badly mishit shot.
Hole 5. Par 4 again uphill and turning to the left at about 200 metres to one of the flatter greens.
Hole 6. Par 5 with OOB all along the R-side. Slopes a bit to the right downhill and then quite severely uphill to the green. Left side all the way is the go.
From here the incredible scenery starts to kick in - take your time to enjoy the view and forget about smelling the flowers.
Hole 7. Par 4 short dogleg left. Potentially reachable from the tee but danger everywhere. OOB along the left, a huge dam on the right, trees long - you get the picture! Play conservatively.
Hole 8. Par 4. Try to take your eyes off the view long enough to tee off. Long iron or 3-wood around the dam to the bottom of the hill, then up to a very challenging green.
Hole 9. Par 4 turns left, bunker at the bend if you go too long. Short second to the green which has the best panorama on the course.
Hole 10. Long Par 4, turning inland with great views of the downs of The Mount Lofty Ranges. One of the wider fairways, flat, downhill second to a green surrounded by small mounds.
Hole 11. Par 3, short set into the side of a hill, flattish green, nice.
Hole 12. Par 4, another signature hole. Quite short but the mortals amongst us would hit our first to the corner of a fairway which turns 90 degrees right and uphill. Big gully along the R side The bold or foolhardy can try to cut the corner which makes for a very short iron to the green. Good luck finding your ball if you miss and if you find it better luck trying to make the green if you do. Can tear your score apart.
Hole 13. Par 3 longish, slightly downhill. A chance to take a breath before the next two.
Hole 14. Par 5 a short par 5 by today’s standards, about 440 metres but still a challenge.. Stay on the right side of the fairway.
Hole 15. Long Par 4, like many holes an uphill drive and a [long] downhill second. A rare hole with flat lies.
Hole 16. Lovely little Par 3, don’t go too far left. 2 level green R to L. Unusual design, great view from the tee.
Hole 17. Par 4 uphill, bland, vanilla. Play it and move on.
Hole 18. Par 5, a cracker. Terrific finishing hole. The drive has to be precise. Practice fairway on the R and gets a workout. Be sure to mark your ball. Gentle uphill approach to the green, right in front of the clubhouse.
By now you are probably sick of reading ‘uphill/downhill’ but that is the challenge. Different doesn’t mean worse or second-rate, it just means different!
The course is generally in good condition but can get a bit boggy in mid-winter. The greens are true and usually medium pace with the occasional extreme borrow. Peter Thomson once said you need to play golf with your head rather than your heart - that applies here in spades!
The staff are great: you always feel welcome. The clubhouse is like an old English club with big fireplaces and exposed beams. A post-round libation on the deck is essential [weather permitting] and again, the view is spectacular.
MO is a gentle change from the big end of town. Give it a go, you won’t regret it.
Better than 16th in the state. 3.5 balls