81 Seven Mile Beach Road,
- +61 (0) 3 6248 6161
12 miles E of Hobart city centre
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The origins of Hobart Golf Club – it was granted royal distinction in 1925 – can be traced back to 1901 when members played on a site now occupied by the University of Tasmania, though organized golf in the area had actually been established by members of Newlands Golf Club five years before that date. Unfortunately, this particular Newlands Golf Club is no longer active.
The founding members of Royal Hobart Golf Club played on a course at Sandy Bay (which played, incredibly, to a par of 89, including four par sixes and one par seven hole) under the watchful eye of the first Tasmanian professional, a Scotsman named James Hunter.
The club relocated to Rosny in 1915 and it remained there for over forty years before finally settling at Seven Mile Beach on a sand-based 175-acre site beside Hobart airport where course architect Vern Morcom laid out the 18 holes, which were officially opened in 1963 by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Charles Gairdner.
There’s no easing into a round on this tight, tree-lined parkland track as the 440-yard 1st hole is ranked stroke index 1 on the scorecard. Back-to-back par fives precede the toughest hole on the back nine, the 432-yard left doglegged 14th, where the tee shot is threatened by water to the left of the fairway.
The course at Royal Hobart Golf Club is renowned for the quality of its bunkers and the club has hosted many Tasmanian Opens and national Amateur championships. Perhaps its crowning glory came in 1971 when Jack Nicklaus claimed the third of his six Australian Opens here.
This was one of my true joys in Tasmania pre Covid lockdown. Coming from the mainland I called the course to make sure it was worth while bringing my clubs to Hobart but the course was more than happy for me to play on a weekend. I was paired up with 3 members, which was a godsend because the local knowledge went a long way here and they were incredibly great people as well. Any course with a "Royal" in the name can usually bring some pomp and snobbery, Royal Hobart bucked the trend with down to Earth staff, members and a truly great track.
A lot of the holes at Royal Hobart are dog legged in some way and so unless you can shape the ball both directions it can be a challenge, but with that said, the holes aren't supremely long and I took 3w (I will usually hit that about 200m) off the tee quite a few times more but for positioning than anything else and again, the members were great insight on that strategy.
The fairways were, in an overused term, like carpet and beautiful to hit off. Treelined, they can feel tight off the tee but that seems to be part of the optical illusion this course can have with some greens and landing area's feeling tight until you get and realize the is plenty of space to play. The greens were some of the best I have played in recent times. Every hole was consistent and quick, it did take a couple of holes to get the pace though. The greens aren't the biggest you will play but that is part of the courses defence and its wonderful. Don't expect much flat ground on the greens either, they pitch and roll with the best of them. I don't get a lot of spin with my irons so I was clubbing down to release the ball onto the greens to give me the best chance at a decent score.
The bunkers were also great, being from Melbourne and playing sandbelt courses this was not dissimilar to those, very consistent and some nice shape edges. The bunkering is not overly deep for the most part and the soft sand made life easier to escape.
The design is actually paired back which was a surprise in that, while the bunkers were fantastic, they didn't stand out and weren't forever in your eyeline. The course uses the natural Tasmanian flora to its advantage with most fairways treelined giving clear corridors for your shot paths. The rough was fair and unless you had a minor disaster, even from the rough, you're in pretty good shape. This is also a relatively flat course so its a fairly easy walk in that sense.
A false sense of security starts on the 1st tee. The fairway is wide, long and straight and until you get to the quick mounded green this feels like a leisurely course but a swale or tough pin position will take all of that away.
Two of the next four holes are short par 4's, with a longer par 4 and a mid range par 3 to round it out. All of these par 4's have a dogleg of some description and the par 3 is just a pretty hole that's protected by bunkers but a decently flighted ball should beat these.
Holes 6 through 9 feature a short and long par 5, a short par 4 and a long par 3. Excluding the par 3 they all feature doglegs. I have no idea why but the short par 4 stood out to me. The green looked like it was on an island on the approach with the forest behind it. There is a lot of space back there but coming in it looked like it was on top of the green.
Another straight par 4 and short par 3 start the back, that false sense of security returns slightly again as space is ample on the par 4. Play a high loft on the par 3, its protected by sand on all sides with a tricky rolling green. The 12th and 13th are back to back beautiful par 5's. Relatively straight but to the eye these are standout holes on the course for mine. 12 is shorter than 13 but but unless you with a long ball you will need 3 shots before you hit the greens. 13 feels tighter than 12 with more of a treelined fairway but all in all, these are just great golf holes.
The final stretch is a great blend of mid range par 4's with a long par 3. The 4's are probably the straightest stretch on the course, you just need to make sure you hit the fairways and a good score should follow.
I genuinely enjoyed my round and company here. Royal Hobart has to be amongst the most approachable "Royal" courses in the world and that is part of its natural charm. The course is fair, extremely well maintained and managed. Located a short drive from Hobart airport and about a 15 to 20 minute drive from the CBD its easy to get to and at $115 AUD I would play here again and again if I get the opportunity.
When any Golf Club has the word Royal attached to it, it must be good. Royal Hobart is that. With Saddleback fairways and doglegs that require good strategy, this course may well remain outside the top100 but it is worth a visit. Par 3s that are tough and long similar to the Melbourne Sandbelt.
I played Royal Hobart on a driving and golf trip to lovely Tasmania and had a great day. Unlike some other Royal courses I could name, they were were very welcoming to an individual visitor sorting me out with clubs and a playing partner. This was helpful since this is a difficult course, and best lines of play weren't always obvious. When I return to Tasmania to play the new big name courses I'll definitely return to Royal Hobart.
As a new member at RHGC you'll be pleased to know that the club has some grand plans to modernise the course and facilities. The refurbished interiors of the clubhouse have opened it up and provide a modern looking contemporary design. To the course...although the land is quite flat it offers a great opportunity to do something great with the course (I would love to see on open links style course, open to the elements). Currently the tree removal program is much needed to return the course to its original intent. Being sand based and only a 5 iron form the sea it has the potential to be a really good links style course but that would take some tough decisions by the management. The greens are relatively small and in the summer are hard and fast. The majority of the bunkers have just been re-sanded and to be honest a lot of them are now obsolete due to how far the ball goes. RH is a good members course that would benefit from a total redesign to bring to Hobart a world class course like the one to the north of the state. Note the course record is held by Jason Day (62).