15th in the nation is about right for Newcastle. This is an extremely good golf course. I played it twice this week, on both occasions in at least a 3 club breeze. It is difficult - precision driving and precision iron play will be rewarded with good scores. I struggled with the poa greens, and wonder about a couple of design features ( the trees which obscure the fairway on 14, the blindness of the tee shot on 15) but each and every hole to that point is strong, with no weak shots anywhere. The stretch of 4 through 11 is I think as good as anything in Australia. 5 might just be in the top 3 or 4 holes in the country. The front 9 in particular is just really good golf, if a little quirky at times. I'm not fussed about conditioning - golf courses don't need to be outstandingly manicured to be great ( I suspect there might even be an inverse relationship).
The only think keeping this course from being right among the very elite of Australian golf is holes 16 and 17 and maybe 18. This will be dealt with when/if they go ahead with a major renovation after releasing the land that 16 and 17 and 18 sit on for commercial use. If the land they are opening up at the back of the property for new holes is as good as the land that 4-14 sit on and if the new holes are as good as those existing holes, then Newcastle has every chance to enter the very elite of Australian golf. It should be wonderful. I look forward to coming back to see it.
Date: July 27, 2016