It’s no easy task living in the shadow of one of the world’s Top 50 ranked golf courses but that’s exactly what the 18-hole layout at St Michael’s has had to do in relation to the famed New South Wales course ever since they first co-existed, cheek by jowl, in 1938.
Set out on a tight parcel of land atop the cliffs of the Little Bay peninsula, the course at St Michael’s arrived ten years after its illustrious neighbour and the fairways were only in use for five years when – like NSW – they were requisitioned for military purposes by the Australian army during the latter years of World War II.
Fifty years or so after the government returned the course to St Michael’s Golf Club, the character of the course had changed quite significantly, with trees and native bush along some of the fairways encroaching a little too far, bringing a significant element of unwanted interference into play.To counter this intrusion, clusters of trees were removed in recent times to undo these parkland-style features and, in the process, return St Michael’s to the type of links-like course it was originally designed to be. The result is that today’s course is a little more forgiving than it once was but try telling that to golfers when a stiff sea breeze gets up off the Pacific Ocean during a round!
Forever in the shade of it’s near neighbour NSWGC, St. Michaels occupies an inferior parcel of coastal fronted land immediately to the north of New South Wales GC. Despite significant bush clearing since my last visit, the overriding memory is of claustrophobia as the is still too much penal bush in play. Allied to this are somewhat contrived playing lines allied to too many link ho-hum link holes to route you back to the coastal side of the property. A visit from one of the very eminent Australian golf course architects is well overdue, but I suspect this overture will be rebuffed by an introspective, chippy membership who would rather hurl envious insults towards their neighbours across the boundary fence.
If your budget or contacts book doesn’t permit you to play NSW, then by all means give St Michaels a whirl, I would recommend considering Bonny Doon instead.
For more information on my Australian golfing adventure, please click the following link: The Long Road to Van Diemen's Land
St. Micks is a championship coastal course in Sydney's southeastern suburbs that combines many of the features of the very highly rated next door neighbour NSW GC. Quality conditioning; interesting and testing layout; and spectacular ocean views from half of the holes. The play is challenging in the regular coastal breezes, especially with the thick scrub and undergrowth that lines many of the holes. It's an interesting mix of links style land (the turf is good all year round), but also some tree and scrub lined holes that whilst not parkland, do shape the eye somewhat.
Played recently in the weekend members comp at what was a decent green fee and enjoyed the round with some engaging gentlemen. They were rightfully proud of their course.
St. Michaels is a tough test off the tee with a few blind tee shots. Great setting for this course along the NSW coastline, the cliff holes are very pleasing, but the better holes are the inland ones.
Beautiful natural bushland runs throughout the inland holes, great routing meets the golfer here.