New South Wales is easily the best course in the Sydney area and certainly a top ten golf course within Australia, perhaps even in the top five. It is a delight to play and offers real choices to the player as they navigate the holes up in the hillier area of the golf course. The only critique one can have of the golf course is that it takes awhile to get going. I felt the golf course did not really begin until the sixth hole. The green complexes are all above average although I did not find the greens themselves difficult to read as the slopes and slants are pretty obvious. The greens are also the appropriate size for the hole and location. Some of the holes are very well defended while holes with more difficult fairways have less defense around the greens which is a good balance in any golf course.
The first hole is fairly easy as a relatively short downhill then uphill 330 yard par 4 as long as you navigate the false front which goes much deeper into the green than it appears and can send a ball struck well short very far down the hill. However, I think once you learn this about the hole, then you know how to play it.
The second hole is a long par 3 of 200-180 yards that is relatively flat to the hole but has swales surrounding the raised green as well as bunkers on the left. I thought the green was appropriate to the length of the hole while others thought it was a bit small.
The third hole as a longer par 4 of 415-385 has a sharp dogleg left at the bottom of the hill. You play a blind shot here, a sign of what is to come later on the golf course. The reality is the proper line is over the trees on the left, not inside them. I hit my tee shot slightly to the right of the trees on the left and ended right behind one of the three trees at the bottom of the hill. There is also a large collection of trees at the bottom of the hill to the right but they should not come into play. The approach shot is all uphill so it is somewhat of a blind shot to a green that has run-offs front and left and two bunkers on the right side that are fairly deep. For me, this was easily the best of the first five holes.
The fourth hole is a long par 4 of 425-410 that is fairly straight. It has trees down the left side and a small pond and bunkers down the right. The green is protected on the right but a bunker and another run-off area. However, the green is long and large and not very contoured. I felt this hole was good but lacked a bit of visual stimulation.
I did not care for the fifth hole but I played it on a relatively low wind day. It is a par 5 steeply downhill with no real defense other than the collection of bunkers on the left of the green and one on the right. I hit driver and then putted from 115 yards to this 510-500 yard par 5. My putt as my second shot ended up 15 feet behind the pin. That really should never happen on a par five. It was fun to do, but showed the weakness of the golf hole.
The sixth hole, a par 3 of 195-170 yards is likely one of the most photographed holes in all of golf. This is a breathtaking hole over the water of Botany Bay that cuts into the tee shot on the left side and over the rocks with the water continuing on the left side. There are bunkers left and right of the green as well as a swale-like grass bunker in front of the green. Maybe wind would have made a difference, but I felt there were too many bail-out areas on this hole offering an excellent chance of saving par if you missed the green. It is a stunning hole, but I am not convinced it is a special hole from a difficulty standpoint. For me, this is where the course really began to take advantage of the land. I know this hole has been changed as it has been shortened and perhaps made a bit easier.
The seventh hole is good and the holes just keep building after this one. Some are even terrific. This uphill par 4 of 415/400 yards plays a lot longer than the yardage. There is not a lot of defense other than the trees left and right of the fairway. The green is one of the best greens on the golf course with a fair amount of undulations, false front and run offs.
The eight hole is a par 5 of 555/505 playing longer as it is uphill. The second shot is a blind shot over the hill. The green sits under the next hill backstopped by trees and is well defended by a bunker left and two to the front right. It has another excellent green. This is a very good hole that is fun.
I thought the finishing hole for the front side was really well designed as the routing takes you downhill to a fairway sloped right to left. For the longer hitters they have to navigate a large bunker area with trees on the left side. The green is well defended as you are likely hitting off of a slant on this par 4 of 375/360 yards.
The tenth is ever better than the ninth, an uphill par 4 of 400-370 yards where the green is protected by several bunkers left and right. It had another really good green on it. This hole was simply fun to try to figure out which side of the fairway is easier to play one’s second shot.
The eleventh hole was closed for renovation when we were there so I cannot comment on it. I did look at the land and it looked really special as a 165 yard slightly downhill par 3 that once again was likely well defended by bunkers but they were also under repair.
The par five twelfth hole is likely the easiest hole on the inward nine, at only 520-500 yards with a relatively wide open fairway and a large green. However, it was a lot of fun to play this uphill hole with the ridge running through it creating a blind shot.
The thirteenth hole was my favorite on the golf course, a dogleg left of 400 yards with a narrow infinity green to Botany Bay well protected by trees lining the fairway and bunkers at the front of the narrow green. The views as you play you second shot and after completing the hole are absolutely stunning.
If someone wants to say the fourteenth is better than the thirteenth I would not argue it too much. It is another par 4 dogleg left with an infinity green. The fairway is lined with trees after you have a carry over a canyon of roughly 180 yards. The longer hitters will take off as much as this dogleg as they can leaving only a gap wedge to this 350-330 yard hole. The views here are even more incredible than the hole before. The green has no greenside bunkers but is very tilted right to left just like the fairway. It is an incredible hole.
The fifteenth is a straight uphill par 4 of 410-395 yards that plays much longer. It is tree lined on both sides. One must hit their tee shot about 240-250 yards to clear the crest of the hill and have a view of the green which now sits to the right and has bunkers left and right. I could not drive to the crest but I did one-putt the green which I thought was one of the simpler greens on the golf course.
The sixteenth is a long dogleg left par 4 of 440-425 yards with the second shot offering views once again of the ocean. It is a beautiful and difficult hole and completes a demanding stretch of holes.
Or that is not quite the case as the final two holes require real thinking about lines and club selection. The seventeenth is a 170-145 yard hole situated at the crest of two hills on either side. You simply can’t miss to either side as the green is not even receptive to a pitch shot. Bunkers left and right of the green are there to collect your ball as well. It is a magnificent par 3 and for me, the best on the golf course despite the stunning views of the sixth. There simply is no room for error here.
The final hole is terrific, a par five playing slightly downhill off the tee on this 550-530 yard hole with trees that must be avoided on the right side with the tee shot and a collection of bunkers on the left for the longer hitter. The green is very well defended with bunkers left and a collection on the right side which sit well below the green on that side. The miss on the third shot should be long and never short. The green has substantial undulations to it.
New South Wales is a gem. I know it has been ranked in the top 100 and likely still is on some lists. It is easy to understand why. Given the land available, the routing takes full advantage of it. As I said, for me it felt as if the course did not really begin until the sixth hole, but that is okay given the near perfection of the holes to follow. This golf course offers everything one would want. On my personal list of the 706 golf courses I have played, it currently resides at 99. It is truly special on a clear day and perhaps extremely difficult on a windy day. Wow.
Date: October 17, 2019