The Murray Downs resort lies on the flood plain of Australia’s longest river – the “Mighty Murray” – beside the small pioneer settlement and historic township of Swan Hill and the 18-hole course here is widely recognized as one of the most affordable and accessible layouts in the country.
Course architect Ted Parslow – who includes a number of Chinese and Malaysian courses in his portfolio – fashioned the fairways at Murray Downs in the late 1980s with the official opening taking place in 1991.
Parslow had a blank canvas on which to work, as the site chosen for the course was an open, flat and largely featureless piece of land located in a typically harsh outback environment.
After substantial earth moving, the planting of over 16,000 trees and bushes and the installation of several large expanses of water, the architect crafted a wonderful golfing oasis that has matured splendidly over the last couple of decades.
Noted for its prominent sand bunkers, the course also brings water into play on many of the fairways, especially at holes 11 to 18. The signature hole is played early in the round at the long par three 5th where the tee shot must carry a significant water hazard to a green protected by bunkers on the left and a lake to the right.
Murray Downs Golf and Country Club was, like many courses along the northern side of River Murray, established as the result of the introduction of that great social evil, the gaming machine. In the late 1950’s the NSW Government legislated to allow social and sporting clubs to operate them and the rivers of gold began to flow.
As a result golf clubs had the resources to redesign old courses or build new ones, generally with accommodation and a bistro/social club as part of the complex.
MD is one such iteration and it is structured such that once you arrive and park your car you probably won’t need to use it again until you leave.
The reviews of the course provided by previous correspondents are pretty much spot-on and my only query is why so many ‘red penalty areas’ formerly known as water hazards? The Murray River is close but the local area only gets about 350 ml of rain per year and the surrounding country is semi-arid. Maybe Ted Parslow is paying homage to the lagoons and billabongs of the nearby river but there is such a thing as overkill!
That being said, Murray Downs is a fabulous place to stay and play golf. The course is just about always in great condition - do, however, be aware that, as part of their poa eradication programme, the course is dried out once a year, greens included, and, as such, they are like a concrete floor. No issue with that, you just need to adjust your game. In addition, although fairly flat, it can be a hard walk, especially in the warmer weather - carts are usually supplied as part of the package so consider using one, for the first round anyway.
I agree with the comment that it is the best of the River Murray courses.
MD is a bit remote - 4 hours from Melbourne, 6 hours from Adelaide so plan a trip that includes a few others. One such suggestion is Coomealla, a 2 plus hour drive away. It is not quite as polished as MD and arguably more remote but a little treasure nevertheless. Otherwise just drive to the main highway and turn left. Lots of options.
A solid 41/2 balls
Murray Downs Golf & Country Club is located in the heart of the historic Murray Downs sheep station in New South Wales, just across the bridge from Victoria's Swan Hill. The golf course at Murray Downs was designed by Ted Parslow, and opened for play in March 1991 It is now the centrepiece of the country club, and surrounding residential development
The course itself winds through typical Aussie bush, although this is not accidental. The native tees and shrubs that frame each hole were carefully chosen, and some thirty years after planning have grown to provide an attractive environment for the course. This is particualarly so on the front nine, but on the back nine more mature non indigenous vegetation and more lakes provide a slightly different parkland feel
The rolling sandy terrain is perfect for golf, and Parslow has provided a course that rewards the thinking golfer. Angled greens and strategically placed bunkering reward golfers that can place their ball rather than the long bombers.
It must be said however that Parslow demands you carry the ball to position, so shorter hitters or those with low ball flights will struggle on a number of holes where bunkers and water intervene.
Water hazards are in play on nine holes, often with clusters of bunkers on the other side of the fairway tightening the lines of approach.
Like the bunkers, the greens are big with lots of movement. Each green has some interesting pin positions and often lots of unpinnable space.
The course was in immaculate condition when we visited, and a pleasure to play
Notable holes include:
- hole 5, a picturesque long par over water- par is a very good effort!
- hole 8, a short dog leg par 4 with a well bunkered green
- hole 10, a short dogleg par 4 with a wide shallow green- one of the widest I have seen!
- hole 11, a short par 3 to a convoluted green surrounded by bunkers
- hole 16, a par 5 with a diagonal 'bite off as much as you dare' type tee shot over water
- hole 17, a testing par with water threatening to the rear and right of the green
Murray Downs is generally regarded as the best of the Murray courses. It is a lovely place to play golf
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer- click the link to read his full review
Championship resort course, yet quite rural and also a members club for the town of Swan Hill. An excellent selection of holes that mix doglegs left and right; subtle elevation changes; water carries; and regular fairway and greenside bunkers. However, the 'resort' nature of the place means plenty of landing area and large greens. I played to handicap first time around here, which suggests there's no great mystery to the holes, or maybe it just confirms that a resort course is usually more friendly to travelling golfers.
Conditioning excellent. Value for money also excellent for the high standard course. A decent Sunday roast was served up in the club bistro after the round too.
I ticked off another fine Australian course, sometimes you can play great courses locally in and around the big cities without travelling to far, but today's location was a fair hike. Out west on the NSW / VIC border at the heart of the Murray River. Murray Downs Resort. This course is currently is great condition considering that on the drive out here, you travel through towns listing water restrictions are required to be adhered everyday. Fairways are outstanding for a "country course" Huge green complexes greet the golfer :) Great bunkering on display as well as great use of water features. Visually stunning course. The routing is great! and change of direction and occasional wind keep the golfer having fun And that's exactly what I encountered! Especially after almost eagling the 1st hole from a fairway bunker 60m out! Played 1 - 11 by myself, then linked up with Brendan and his 14 yr old son Cam from The Northern club in Melbourne who are also country members of the MD track. #thecourseliveduptothehype!