328 Tapleys Hill Road,
South Australia 5023,
- +61 (0)883 565 511
4 miles W of Adelaide
Members and guests only
The Royal Adelaide Golf Club was formed in 1892 and has been based at the western suburb of Seaton since 1905, less than 20 minutes from Adelaide’s town centre and less than 2 kilometres from the coast. Although the present day course occupies the same land as the course that was first called Royal Adelaide, only eight of the modern day holes bear close resemblance to that layout.
‘Cargie’ Rymill and Club Secretary C.L. Gardiner laid out the first rudimentary course in 1905. An article on Dan Soutar by John Scarth and Neil Crafter in Golf Architecture takes up the story: “In 1906 the Club went in search of a professional opinion on the layout for the definitive course. They selected newly turned professional Dan Soutar, with Club minutes recording that no member was to give any opinions on the course to Soutar except the Committee."
“Soutar himself wrote later that year in his book The Australian Golfer: “Early in 1906 I was asked by the Club to go over and suggest any necessary alterations or improvements to the new course. I formed a most favourable opinion of it and when the alterations are made in accordance with my suggestions, the Club will have an excellent championship course, equal to any in Australia.”
“The Committee “decided not to adopt Soutar’s new course at present” and work started almost immediately on making bunkers on the Rymill layout. Interestingly, the new course made use of 14 of the greensites that were planned by Soutar."
Alister MacKenzie made a four day visit to South Australia in the middle of his Melbourne based assignments in 1926. The club was keen to canvass his views as to a possible re-routing of the holes as the Grange to Adelaide tram line which bisected the property was due to be electrified. MacKenzie, always quick to ferment his ideas, proposed an immediate crossing of the railway line between locker room and first tee so that the 1st was played west of the railway on a piece of land that was to occupy the first 13 holes. The club demurred on strong protest from the membership so the 1st retained its historical position.
MacKenzie was enthusiastic about the course’s potential, remarking that it offered “real links land, a delightful combination of sand dunes and fir trees, a most unusual combination, even at the best seaside courses” adding that, if his suggestions were acted upon, the resultant course would be “superior to most, if not all, English championship courses.” Rebuffed at the 1st, it is in the run of holes from the 3rd to the 8th that Mackenzie’s legacy is most clearly delineated. Somewhat analogous to the role played by the four hills that define the front nine of the West course at Royal Melbourne, MacKenzie’s plan made the most of the large sand dune positioned around the 3rd green.
Although the sea hasn’t bordered the course at The Royal Adelaide for some 10,000 years, it remains, like Royal Lytham & St Annes, more of a links course than an inland course. Royal Adelaide is a favourite golf course of many Australian golfers and it’s easy to see why.
Part of the above passage is a brief edited extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
There is more than enough information preceding this review, detailing specifics about the holes, so I shall not repeat. I will merely confirm that this is a magnificent course and clearly the superior track in the state, from my week of golf in Adelaide playing Glenelg, the two courses at Grange and a trip down to Victor Harbor. I can't compare Kooyonga as I didn't get there, but to a person, every local I played with or spoke to, noted Royal as the best.
The design demands equal part heroics, caution, application and an understanding of how well you're playing, if the course is to be played well. There are very few shots where you can have a quick glance and just hit; instead you have to spend a good few moments thinking about your game. Can I shape the ball around the waste area on one? Can I play right on three? Will the ball roll back off the green from a front pin on six? How much will the breeze move the ball on seven and what if it doesn't bite? Which bunker will leave me in trouble? You get the idea. Well of course you can just whack it, but I'm pretty certain you'll be well over handicap by the final hole. It's not a roller-coaster course, but more subtle, with oblique sight lines and well-placed yet varied hazards. The conditioning is world class and the views across the holes a wonderful juxtaposition of greens, yellows and some light reds: it's a lovely place to play. There are of course the wow factor holes expected of such a highly rated course.
I was able to ring up a few days beforehand as a visitor and organise a tee time and was warmly welcomed on checking in, something that is excellent to see at a highly regarded private club.
Oh, and the 17th: I'm not sure why the column inches. It's a long par 4 that seemed to flow as well as the remainder of the course: bunkers in the centre of view from the tee appear on 5 and 14, so it's not unique; and having successfully avoided them with a solid drive, there's then the seven or so clustered around the green awaiting an approach usually played with a long iron. And the approach from the safer right side of the fairway has to carry the bigger bunkers. I quite liked the hole. I quite liked Royal Adelaide.
My first review - be gentle. So, Royal Adelaide Golf Club, generally called Seaton, the suburb in which it is located.
A fairly exclusive, private club which was set out in 1904. Now, if you are looking to play a MacKenzie creation well…….. no siree Bob! Plenty of input however which resulted in some of the most iconic holes in Australian golf.
The course was originally designed by Rymill and Swift. For anyone interested in reading more of the history there is an excellent article at Royal Adelaide Golf Club, Australia | LINKS Magazine
The course itself is laid out on quite flat land with a large sand dune running diagonally through the centre and it is the holes associated with thisfeature that generate the most interest.
No. 1. Flat as, shortish par 4, dog-leg left to a small, well protected green. The practice fairway is off to the right so make sure you can identify your ball. Nothing special
No. 2. Medium- long, straightaway par 5 made more difficult because it plays into the prevailing wind. A hook may see you having to watch out for trains. The green sits a little above the level of the fairway.
No. 3. Brilliant, iconic, special short par 4. Better described by other correspondents. Built through the sand dune. Interestingly, MacKenzie’s design has a bunker to the left of the green but this was not acted upon, probably rightly so.
No. 4. Mid length par 4, dog-leg left. A blind tee shot through a grove of pine trees but there is a little viewing platform which allows one to see the fairway and avoid taking out the group in front. A landing area the size of a football field. The middle to right line is safer but makes for a longer second. Too far left will destroy your score early!
No. 5. Par 4 dog-leg right. Very flat with the obligatory bunker/tree at the elbow. There are some artificial small mounds along the edge to try to define the fairway but not one of the better holes.
No. 6. Long straight par 4. SI 1and rightly so. Again, generally plays into the wind. Starts on the flat section.The second shot [long] is uphill quite a bit to a smallish green. A par here will have you buying the post-round drinks
No. 7. Beautiful mid-length, challenging par 3. Lots of small bunkers in a semi-circle in front of the very sloping green. Unsurprisingly, nicknamed ‘The Pearl Necklace’
No 8. Almost straight short par 4 through a couple of pines, downhill with a green the size of a pocket handkerchief and no safe area if you miss it. Norman hit off with a five iron during The Australian Open in 1998
No 9. Par 5 into the corner of the course. Gentle bend right and a bit uphill at the end. The right side rough is penal.
No. 10. Par 4 and a sleeper. A slightly blind tee shot - long hitters can run through the end of the fairway. You must be sure of the distance to the [upturned saucer] green when making your club selection for the second shot.
No. 11. ‘The Crater Hole’ - ‘nuff said. Play and enjoy but be conservative.
No. 12. Long downhill par 3. OK, not special.
No. 13. Great risk/reward par 4, turning left. Cut the corner at your peril. Some vicious breaks on the green
No. 14. Par 4. Classic. Close to the best hole on the course. Not overly long but demands careful ball placement. The second, uphill through a few pine trees to a subtle green needs to be laser straight. Par it and you will bore your grandchildren with the story for years.
Now we arrive at the problematic holes.
No. 15. Par 5 requiring a hooking drive down-hill to pancake flat land. In recent times the hole has had to be redesigned. A water hazard, in the old money, runs along the right side of the fairway. It is a little out of place but it was built as part of an environmental project to manage stormwater in the surrounding area and the club should be congratulated for their work. Unfortunately it also limits the options available to improve the hole.
No. 16. Par 3 and the least inspiring of all the short holes. Average golfers [guilty] may look at laying up just short.
No.17. Par 4. One of the most divisive holes in Australian golf. Originally a par 5, it was judged to be a bit weak for the modern golfer so Clayton was briefed to redesign it. It is now a bizarre par 4 that might fit in at Barnbougle Dunes but, to my uneducated eye, is like a pimple on the bum of an otherwise classic course. Later, Doak was asked to modify it - not one of his better efforts either. Time [and money] will tell whether it can be restored to any semblance of the original.
Number 18. Straight par 4, slightly bland finishing hole
Ok, so there are a few shortcomings but this course will more than withstand the challenges presented by the modern game for quite some time to come. It is a privilege to play here.
A few final words. Although this is a private club, with the right introductions and a little latitude re playing times, a game here can be arranged. As well, you will not need to sell a kidney to afford it, unlike many places elsewhere.
RA is a natural course and along the way, if you are lucky, you may encounter a frill necked or a blue-tongue lizard. If you are unlucky you might come face-to-face with a brown snake. I speak with some experience. So, keep your eyes peeled as you walk along and if you hit into a patch of scrub, ask yourself if you really want to find that ball.
At its best 5 balls
Congrats on breaking your cherry. Most reviewers agree, 5 stars
I had the pleasure of spending 6 wonderful days at the jewel in Adelaide’s crown that is Royal Adelaide. I was fortunate that Nathan Bennett and his staff were putting the finishing touches to prep work for the ISPS Handa Australian Ladies Open, which was to take place 7 days after my departure. This ensured great conditioning in abundance, while also an element of green keepers revenge with some pretty funky pin positions which I learned to avoid as the additional rounds were navigated.
The first and second holes provide a gentle ’ish’ start to ease you into your Seaton Sandbelt adventure. As with many of the courses in the upper echelons of Australian golf, Alister MacKenzie’s fair hand touched the property during his now famous Australia trip in 1926. The short bunkerless 3rd hole is a fitting homage to the great man. Your semi-blind drive must bisect a narrow tree lined chute, with native areas to either side. It’s driveable, however you really need to hug the right side if this is your intent, so you really don’t want to stray too far from the centreline of a semi blind cresting fairway. The exquisite long and narrow screams ‘attack me’. But be warned it’s slick up there and also slightly offset to the playing line. Straying too far in either direction could spell disaster as the fairway dune ridge runs up the right hand side of the green while a grassy mound awaits anything tweaked a bit left. This hole is without doubt one of the best short fours that I have had the privilege of playing.
The par 3’s at Royal Adelaide as a collective deserve special mention (7th,12th, 16th & 19th), the 7th is another Dr. MacKenzie influenced hole with a severely pitched green surrounded by 8 sentinel like bunkers. Word of warning, don’t hit it is the hole long left (no dice!). The 12th at 201m is index 3 on the card for good reason. The correct miss is likely on the right if you fancy getting your 3. The tabletop green on 16 is a fitting beginning to your run for home and a tough one to hit and hold this up turned saucer green.
Final mention must go to my favourite holes (which also includes the 3rd referenced above), namely 11 and 14. The 11th plays uphill initially to a plateau and cresting fairway, keep right to avoid the cavernous bunker to the left. Once you reach the top of the hill you are greeted with one of the best views in Australian golf. The green is nestled below you in a natural sand capped amphitheatre. Don’t hit it left as a bunker and unwelcoming native areas will leave a very difficult up and down.
The 14th, a left to right dogleg ratchets up the drama, bunkers guard the inside of the dog leg with the fairway pitching away from you. Your job is only beginning however, your second, to a raised green requires a drawn longer iron to a raised and crowned green. Four is a good score here and move on.
No trip to Adelaide would be sated without at least one or two spins around Royal Adelaide. The course and the welcome afforded by the membership is truly world class.
For more information on my Australian golfing adventure, please click the following link: The Long Road to Van Diemen's Land
Royal Adelaide is the quintessential classical sandbelt layout. The first time I played the course, I was very underwhelmed by the course. It took me a few years of playing there to truly appreciate how great some of the holes were.
- Hole number 3 is in my top 5 best drivable par 4's.
- Hole number 4 is a beautiful dogleg left with a blind tee shot over a dune.
- Hole number 11 is the best hole is Australia in my opinion.
- Hole number 14 is up there with the best long par 4's I've ever played.
Unfortunately Royal Adelaide was only blessed with dunes in the middle of the course and the holes around the boundary are flat, open and featureless. This is something the architect has not really made up for which leads to pockets of bland and forgettable holes.
I have to mention the 17th hole. This par 5 penultimate hole was drastically redesigned about 10 years ago. The course does not have a strong set of par 5's but this used to be the best of the bunch and gave the course a thrilling end to the round where eagles and bogeys were always on the card. The hole was a mid length, dog leg right with the drive playing over a hill with two bunkers and trees to the inside right corner of the dog leg. Depending on the wind direction and tee selection, a good drive hugging the bunkers could get on top of, or to the downslope on the other side of the hill. A ball missed right in the deep bunkers could only be advanced about one hundred yards and a bail out left was often in sandy waste land between the 15th and 17th fairways where a layup was usually the only option. A good drive on top of the hill would give you over 220 yards to the green and a longer drive would leave you only about 180. The longer drive, however, often left you a downhill lie and there was a well positioned cross bunker 20 yards short of the green ready to catch a poorly struck approach. The green was long and two tiered, it was not classical is design and in my opinion, it was the only part of the hole that needed major overhauling. An Australian architect was assigned the work and I believe the committee directed his team to follow McKenzie drawings the club had in their archives of a wide straight hole, so the architect can't really be blamed for ruining this hole. To keep it short, the whole hole was bulldozed into a very wide and straight par 4 with a cluster of bunkers in the middle of the fairway. It was a bombers paradise and short hitters had to pick a side, although the right was the clear choice. The green was also huge with a lot of contours. The members and most visitors hated it, so in came Mr Doak to fix it. Unfortunately all the character was sucked out of the hole by the bulldozing done previously, so his fix up didn't do a lot. This hole was never one of the great holes on the course, but in an effort to improve their course, they did irreversible damage. The course now finishes with two long par 4's. This is just my opinion and I'd like to hear from other people who played this hole before and after the re-design.
Overall, this is a very good course with some great holes. I would recommend everyone play this course at least once to get a taste of the four or five fantastic and classic holes which McKenzie most likely had a hand in creating. It is however, not a great course due to the many less inspiring holes. Most course have a couple of bland holes, but this course has too many.
Royal Adelaide has been at the current location since 1905. When Alister MacKenzie was visiting Melboune in 1926, he took a sojourn to Adelaide. His fingerprints are still visible.
The first hole is a welcoming par 4 dogleg left. With bunkers on the outside elbow, one should not be too conservative. The redan green is protected by a bunker short and left. The 2nd hole is a short par 5. It runs parallel to the rail line. on the left side. An interesting local rule is that the spur is still in play. There is a plethora of fairway bunkers right and the green is protected by two greenside bunkers right and one left. The 3rd hole is a short, fun and driveable par 4. Trees line both sides and the fairway narrows the closer you get to the redan green. The green is on the right side and the genius of the hole is the heather covered ridge that parallels the green forcing a player left to hit a flop shot. Super hole. The tee shot for the par 4 4th is out of a chute and a high draw is preferable. Aim at the center tree through the fairway, there are multiple fairway bunkers to navigate around. The 5th bends slightly right and is tight. Two fairway bunkers right and mounding and heather squeeze the left side. The 6th is a very difficult par 4, long, with fairway bunkers left, with a fairway that narrows as you get closerto the green with mounding and heather. Not to mention an elevated green with two bunkers left and two bunkers right. Par is a good score. The 7th is an excellent mid-distance par 3. It is essentially an island green surrounded by 8 bunkers. The front six are the most intimidating. It reminds me of a par 4 at Apawamis CC in Rye, NY. The bunkers were called Eleanor’s teeth. I believe this was a reference to Eleanor Roosevelt. Take an extra club. The 8th is another tee shot out of a chute. Aim just left of the right fairway bunker. If you are in the fairway this is an excellent birdie oppty, if not more heather and more mounding. On your approach, the bunker that appears to be in front of the green is about 20 yards short of the green. The 9th is a reachable par 5 dogleg right with two fairway bunkers on the inside elbow. Aim left of these bunkers and if you tee shot gets to the ridge it is green light. There are multiple bunkers on both sides to capture wayward second shots and the contour will tend to kick balls right.
The back starts with par 4 that bends slightly right. I think the hole plays much tougher than the yardage and rating indicate. Favor the left side off the tee, multiple bunkers and heather down both sides, but the approach must carry gunch to a tabletop green with three bunkers left and one right. Not a lot of margin for error. The 11th is considered the signature hole. Favor the right side off the tee. You will not be able to see the large cross waste area off the tee. You must be right of the left fairway bunker. The green is set in what would be considered a stadium, but it is all sand and scrub. Cool hole. The only thing I have to say about the 12th is it is 220 yards and into the wind. Good luck. The 13th is a big slinger left, the corner is protected with more mounding and heather. The tee shot calls for a high draw. On your approach aim about 5 yards left of the flag, just about everything will go hard right. The 14th is a bear. Long, tight, leans right and with a plethora of trouble. Big hitters should aim down the left side of the right fairway bunkers. The second shot requires you to thread the needle between pine trees on the left and right over gunch to an elevated green that is protected with three bunkers. Whew! The reachable par 5 provides an oppty to catch your breath. Dogleg left and the tee shot is out of another chute. If you hot is straight you will probably end up in the hazard, it calls for a high draw. The 16th is a mid-length par 3 that requires precision. A table top green with two bunkers left and collection area right. Tough par if you do not hit the green. The 17th is a long par 4 with 4 bunkers in the middle of the split fairway. If one opts to go left, the hole is longer but the approach has a clear line to the pin. Conversely, it is shorter right and there is more room off the tee, but the approach must carry 4 bunkers. Pick your poison. The 18th is pretty straight forward, fairway bunker right and 3 left. The green is protected with two bunkers right and a lateral hazard left.
A fine golf course, worth a visit.
I had the opportunity to play Royal Adelaide in February, 2019 while on an extended tour of Australia, King Island, Tasmania and New Zealand.
It is a gem and well worth the extra flight or drive to get to Adelaide.
My only regret is that my playing companion had a business meeting that ran 90 minutes more than we expected after I arrived at the club just after 11AM. It did provide me a chance to go through the pro shop, have lunch, spend a fair amount of time on the putting green, and talk to a few members. Once he arrived, we did manage to play 27 holes, but had he arrived earlier we could have played two rounds which I prefer when evaluating a golf course. And in the case of Royal Adelaide I very much regret not being able to play it twice as it is really special.
Due to time limitations as our understanding is that the gates to the club close at 7PM, our second round consisted of holes 1-7 then moving over to 12-13. We likely could have played 14 and 15 but did not want to press our luck with an Uber driver. In sum, I had to settle for 27 holes. The hole I most regret not playing a second time was the ninth.
It is a remarkable golf course laid out by H. L. Rymill/C. L. Gardiner/Alistair MacKenzie and touched up most recently by Tom Doak and his team.
There are good resort courses that one would like to play again such as at Bandon Dunes, Streamsong, Whistling Straits, Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart, etc.
There are great golf courses where the members are truly spoiled to play such a terrific golf course such as Royal Dornoch, Royal St. George’s, Muirfield, Kingston Heath, etc. But on certain days, these courses can treat one very harshly.
There are the truly lucky members who reside at clubs with two or more great golf courses such as Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Royal Melbourne, etc
Finally, there is a category for those members who play a golf course that is both terrific, compelling, and overall just plain joyful. Royal Adelaide Golf Club is in this category where I believe a member is always excited to begin their round and that enjoyment continues throughout the round no matter the conditions.
In addition, there is the rare course at a private club that will make one a better player and I think Royal Adelaide is also in this category due to the variety of shots you are asked to hit particularly around the green. That is more the case for someone of my length off the tee. I believe a longer hitter would find Royal Adelaide much less of a challenge.
If I lived in Australia I would want to live in Melbourne for the golf and the city, but I would still want to go to Royal Adelaide, perhaps even join it, given how special I think it is.
The first hole is almost a double dogleg as the fairway goes left but the green almost feels like it sits back a bit to the right given the shape of the fairway. It has a well placed bunker front left as well as a mound right and behind the green. It is not an overly long hole so it eases you into the round.
The second hole hitting over the train tracks running down the left is a slight dogleg left. You can swing away without a lot of fear on the tee shot to this 510 yard par five. The second shot must take into account the large, raised set of four bunkers on the right side of the fairway with a tree overhanging them to really penalize the wayward second. There is another tree closer to the green on the left. It is an excellent green, with a false front, large, two tiered, surrounded by four bunkers on either side. I bogeyed it twice as I got caught up a bit in trying to remember the green complex as I thought it so highly of it.
The third hole is a famous short par three designed by Mackenzie of less than 300 yards, usually around 265 yards. There is a generous fairway should you not get too greedy. For those too greedy there is a ridge line of trees down the right side as well as trees on the left side. Some try to drive this green which has a narrow opening due to the hill to the right of the green and small mounds to the left of the green. The green is tiny and has two sections to it. I missed a birdie on the first round and doubled the second because I went right of the trees on the right and found you really can’t get through them back to the fairway. Trying to loft a recovery shot over the trees with the right length to find the green is a shot that I am not capable of. This is a true risk-reward hole. Loved it.
The fourth hole, a par 4 of 400 yards, after walking up the ladder to ensure the fairway was clear, is different to other holes on the course in that you have a blind tee shot over a depression. It seemed to me the carry was only about 175 yards. There are pine trees on both sides as you hit your tee shot and a large grouping of trees on the right down the hill on the other side of the depression. There is a well placed deep bunker about 260 yards out on the left side to catch the longer hitters with another one about 35 yards after that. This is a well defended green on the center left as the fairway narrows to the flag. However, the green is relatively flat which was a bit disappointing after playing to the green on such a splendid hole.
The fifth hole, a par 4 of about 410 yards has well placed bunkers down the right side and the fairway substantially narrows as there are grass mounds to the left. I was able to thread that opening both times which shortened my approach shots but I did not hit good approach shots into the green as the bunker front right was perfectly placed to throw me off of the pin position that day which was just behind it. It has a green that is slightly raised but primarily flat and not difficult to read.
The sixth hole is perhaps the most challenging on the front nine, a long par 4 of 480-440 that is slightly going to the left. There are grass mounds and trees to navigate on the tee shot. The green is steeply raised with a bunker right and a large set of bunkers on the left. The green is also tilted and has a fall off the back side. This is a marvelous challenging golf hole for someone who is not a long hitter.
The seventh hole is a mid length par 3 that is completely surrounded by bunkers. It is not a difficult shot to get on the green from one of these bunkers, but still tough to save par. It is a classic par 3, not too long at 160 yards but well defended. The first par 3 hints at the marvelous par 3’s to follow which is a real strength of the golf course.
The eighth hole is a short par 4 slightly dogleg right of 360 yards where the tee shot must carry waste land and trees lining both sides. However, it is not a blind tee shot and not as difficult as the one on the fourth hole. There is a fairway bunker on the right to be avoided but one can still make the green if they are in it. Near the green there is good mounding and a bunker on the right side for this green that falls off back and left. It is an above average short par four and one I enjoyed playing if only once.
The ninth hole, a short par 5 of about 500 yards, goes slightly to the right. There is a lot of grass and trees on the right side to catch the poorly hit tee shot. Bunkers line the way in on both sides for those attempting to reach the green in two. The green is raised and one of the more interesting ones to putt on. I took a double due to a bad tee shot and ultimately finding a green side bunker which is one reason I regret not playing this hole a second time. But I walked off of it loving the design of it as well as the green itself.
The tenth hole is a short par 4 of about 370 yards requiring a tee shot over a waste area. Another waste area about 65 yards short of the green intersects the entire fairway to prevent longer hitters from trying to drive the green. The green has a large bunker to the right and three smaller bunkers to the left. The green is sloped in the middle and slightly raised. I liked the tenth a lot as it was visually pretty and had adequate challenge to it.
I don’t recall being able to see much of the green from the tee on the 380 yard par 4 eleventh hole. This is another hole designed by Mackenzie and it is visually stunning and a lot of fun to play. The fairway is wide enough but once again is intersected by a waste area about 90 yards back from the green which sits in a bowl-like effect due to the raised land surrounding it. There is a really large bunker to the left front of the green and a large one front right. The green has really good slope to it. Visually this was the best hole on the golf course.
The twelfth hole, a long par 3 of just over 200 yards is played from a raised tee slightly downhill to a raised green. Getting a par here is a good achievement. It is a hard hole, but a fair hole.
The thirteenth is a par 4 sharply doglegged to the left that plays longer than the yardage of 390. A long tee shot has a definite advantage on this hole due to being able to see the green and pin position. There are grass mounds to the left and grass mounds and a line of trees to the left for the tee shot. The green is sharply pitched and is certainly one of the better greens on the golf course. I really liked this hole.
The fourteenth is a long par 4 of 445 yards that doglegs to the left. It is a wide fairway but the second shot must navigate trees on either side opening to the green which is raised and has swales both front and left. The green is also well defended by bunkers. This is another very good hole.
The fifteenth is the weakest hole on the golf course as a par 5 of 480 yards. If it was changed to a par 4 it would be more challenging. However, the green is the flattest and least interesting on the golf course and perhaps should be given more undulation. The green side bunkers are a bit out of character to the rest of the course as they are relatively shallow.
The par 3 short sixteenth of about 160-175 yards has another raised green and is well defended by bunkers on either side. I thought it was a very strong par 3 and completed a terrific set of par 3’s although there are only three of them.
I saw where someone criticized the seventeenth hole but for me that was perhaps my favorite on the back nine as a 425 yard par 4 with a gentle dogleg right with deep bunkers in the middle of the fairway and nine bunkers all around the green. In essence, the approach shot in feels like you are playing to an earlier par 3, hole seven, on the course. I thought it also had a green with some subtle breaks in it as well. I really liked this golf hole.
The eighteenth hole is perhaps a weak hole, but I did like how this par 3 crossed the road and had a nice longer green at the end on this par 4 of around 400 yards. There is a good placement of fairway bunkers on either side as well as good bunkering near the green including a grass bunker on the left side. It is a nice finish to a very enjoyable, very playable, fun, challenging golf course.
The condition of Royal Adelaide is really good and the stretch of golf from 2-13 is excellent with 16 and 17 also as very good holes. If one were to criticize it, perhaps it should change the fifteenth to a par four. Some of the greens could be a bit more interesting.
I so hope I can play it again. So much golf, so little time…..
Today it was a privilege to play Royal Adelaide with a group of 8 which has both low and higher handicap players. The rough provided some challenges for the higher handicap players but was heralded by the lower handicap players. The blind tee shots provided some interesting challenges but overall the fairways were reasonably generous. Missing the fairways however was not good for your score. The bunker and green complexes proved both interesting and challenging. It would be a great privilege to play this course as your weekly round. The clubhouse had a welcoming feel and staff were first rate. A great day was had by all (well most of us anyway!!)
One of the best challenges I've seen and played occurred at Royal Adelaide GC. No wonder the ISPS HANDA Australian Women's Open was played here in Feb '17. Melbourne may have the renowned sandbelt, but Adelaide's "Redbelt" has stood the true test of time also, due to Dr. Alastair McKenzie's early design / philosophy on his trip to Australia in the 1920/30's. Ranked in the Top 10 at many times throughout the rankings history, and more recently the Top 15, Royal Adelaide GC is an excellent course that holds all the UK & IRELAND links course design & beliefs true to this day.
If you require a more detailed description of R. A than above, you will find my words echoed no doubt.
Local Cargie Rymill was the man who initially was responsible for the laying out of the course which became 'Royal' in 1923. In 1926 Dr Alister MacKenzie also contributed some suggestions, some of which were incorporated into the course. The combined efforts of these two gentlemen has produced a golfing gem that has endured through the ages. It is only in recent years that the club employed Michael Clayton to renovate the course, and opinion is divided on the merits of his efforts. Clayton is known for his obsession with the removal of trees, and at Royal Adelaide he has had a marked affect, changing the entire look of the golfing landscape. In my opinion part of the beauty of Royal Adelaide was lost when all the fairways were opened up. One can now look across parallel fairways at one, two, six and eight as one does on a Scottish playing field – and this is quite an adjustment for those who were fond of the tree-lined look of old.
Nevertheless these are quality holes, and turf conditions probably benefit from the current environment. Clayton has 'tidied up' a number of holes, generally to the good, but lost the confidence of the members when completely redesigning the 17th hole (based on an old MacKenzie concept). The look and feel of the new hole was so alien to the rest of the course, and the club eventually sought assistance from Tom Doak to try and modify the look to match the rest of the course.
Royal Adelaide remains a favourite course to play in Australia. It is a lovely place to spend a day absorbing the history and feel of the place – after all RAGC has hosted 9 Australian Opens to date. But the first time visitor would be excused for questioning all of that on initial impressions.
The land is predominantly flat. The entrance road crosses the final hole, a busy railway line runs right through the centre of the property. Then you approach the first hole by walking beside the railway line, and around the 18th green to a flat hole that doglegs around a low mound, and borders the driving range.
Sadly the finish is weak. After a blind tee shot on the par 5 15th hole, all interest dissipates as the rest of the hole is absolutely dead flat . The mid length par 3 16th hole has good 'bones' but lacks 'presence', the aforementioned 17th hole looks and plays like a course from Mars compared to the rest of the course.
The final hole is a flat, straight, mid length par 4 hole that crosses the entrance road to a 'ho hum' green site surrounded by clubhouse, railway line, first tee, and driving range. It is a slightly disappointing way to finish a wonderful old course.
Perhaps my critique is too harsh... the best of Royal Adelaide is uplifting – and I would play there any time I got the opportunity. Whatever you do, make sure you get the opportunity to make up your own mind!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
You know, I’ve always looked at pictures of Australian sand-based inland courses, such as those on Melbourne’s sand belt, and this place, and thought that whilst they look pretty classy, it was missing any sort of wow factor, visually anyway. I was not feeling terribly drawn to them from the photos, but knew that all those enthusiastic advocates couldn’t all be wrong.
Now I’ve played one – I totally get it. It’s all about the gameplay – it’s a completely different playing experience to most parkland courses. You’re just looking at the terrain in front of you and realising you’re going to have to do it differently, and you soon realise that this version of golf is simply more fun. The playing surfaces are so quick and firm - you have to conjure up so much more imagination when selecting your shots, playing the contours, visualising how it rolls out.
The first thing that struck me about Royal Adelaide was the conditioning – it was absolutely immaculate (aside from the purposefully rustic areas away from the playing surfaces, of course). The greens were some of the truest I’d played in years. Not only that, I felt that the set-up was pretty much perfect, e.g. matching green speeds to the degree of contouring on the greens, mowing lines that were acutely attuned to the accentuation of gameplay, and tightly mown fairways around the greens to always give that Texas wedge option. Copious amounts of kudos to the greenkeeper / superintendent / whatever you call them in your country – he’s a master of his craft.
But a few holes in, and you realise that the whole course is a masterful lesson in understatement. Whilst on first glance it all looks a bit pedestrian and conservative, in fact pretty much every single hole has one or two little features that completely set the tone for strategy and game play, and elevates it immensely. The bunkering and green tilt on 2, the movement of the land throughout 4, the fairway bunkering on 5, the green angle on 8 – I could go on. Such variety makes me itch to play it again. And again. And again. And it left me thinking – is this the perfect way to create a course that suits all ability levels? Nothing too heroic for the high handicappers, but never easy for the scratch player to put a low score together. Simply put – IT MAKES YOU THINK.
Favourite holes – everyone says 3, and for good reason. Never seen anything like it. 4, 6, the lone moment of penal heroism at 7 (certainly in the wind we played it in!), 10 and 11 stand out for me. Whilst there is some slight flickering of the flame across the final six holes, it was still great golf, with some of the open spaces reminding me somewhat of Hankley Common.
I probably didn’t experience the course as it should be played to be honest, as the wind was rarely below a five club wind, and if we measure how many clubs the wind is by how many multiples of 10 metres / yards it takes off your shot, it got up to a ten club wind on occasion, and balls were moving on greens. They have suspended play at major championships for less. Still loved it though. Not only do I want to play it again, the urge to get to Melbourne has ratcheted up a number of levels. Now when I look at those photos of the sandbelt, I’m starting to understand what I’m looking at.