Constructed by Medallist Developments, Stonecutters Ridge has the distinction of being the first Greg Norman-badged course to debut in Sydney and it finally opened its doors to golfers in September 2012, after almost five years of permitting and building delays.
Set out on what was formerly a chicken farm, the 18-hole layout is the centerpiece of a large residential development – with fairways configured in the shape of a large figure of eight – where a number of holes occupy an area close to Eastern Creek.
Wetland areas dominate the opening holes and short par fours at the 4th and 5th catch the eye on this stretch of holes. The 8th is probably the most attractive hole on the front nine but avoid at all costs the sand bunkers and imported vegetation on the inside of the dogleg, where the fairway veers right towards the green.Back-to-back par threes at 16 and 17 are the most noteworthy holes on the back nine. The first of these short holes plays to a green protected by water to the left and sand to the right and it’s followed at the 151-metre 17th where a precision tee shot to a more heavily contoured putting surface is required.
Most courses in Australia are open for play with the majority running comps. No more than 2 in a group, no bunker rakes, no sand buckets in the fight to prevent Covid19. All courses were closed for a brief period of time a few weeks back but they are coming back to life now. I joined a comp day at Stonecutters this week and had a great day out. The fairways are wide and the rough was light unless you missed it by a long way. There is plenty of water though to penalise any moderately wayward shot on a number of holes, especially early in the round, and the bunkers are huge and plentiful, as you’d expect from a Greg Norman design. If you find a fairway bunker you will not be able to advance your ball much more than a sand wedge. Green side bunkers are massive and you will often be playing blind sand shots to the pin.
The course is not overly long. We played it from the white tees which made it about 6500 yards and the back tees would stretch it to maybe 7000 yards. The whites have a slope of 127 and a rating of 72 against a par of 71.
The holes are well designed. The course held the NSW Open for 3 straight years 2014-16 and if the conditions were benign you’d expect it to be taken apart. 20 odd under won it most times.
The greens are grainy and if, like me, you are inexperienced at factoring in the grain, putts will often finish up +/- 3 or 4 feet making some three putts inevitable.
I took driver for every non par 3 hole. Arguably there may be the need for a few risk/reward tee shots. Possibly the 30mph winds prevented long irons or 3 woods from a couple of the shorter par 4s as all the sub 350m par 4s seemed to be into the teeth of the wind.
The par 5s were, or would be, gettable on a mild day but trouble lurked near the greens if you bit off too much. I think playing them as a three shotter would keep the card intact.
Holes 16 and 17 were both par threes which was interesting. Hole 16 from the back at 181m (but downhill) was rated #1 which was surprising and hole 17 was in fact a bit weak. We played it from the more interesting set of tees as well. From the alternate set the hole looked bland. Hole 18 was a long, well guarded par 4 so a strong finish.
Green fee including comp fee cost $42 AUD! Let’s call it 22 pounds. We are talking about a course that would be the equivalent (when compared to overall fun and conditioning) of say Gullane 2, Goswick, Sheringham, St Annes Old, Barassie so a great bargain.
Thanks Shark for such a kick arse course, located only 45 minutes from Sydney's CBD :) Stonecutters is surrounded by a residential estate, though the housing isn't on top of you like in other areas of Sydney. The surrounding bushland gives a true Australiana feel to it with Eastern creek providing a great natural feel throughout the course.
As per Norman design, big intimidating bunkers lurk, big greens to hit on to.
Would definitely recommend this course if your Sydney for a week or longer.
Very reasonably priced green fees as well
This is the first time that I have played a Greg Norman course and what a disappointment; I presume his brief was to design a course that was highly playable for medium to high handicappers. The result is a track which I found absolutely boring. The par fives and fours have huge wide fairways and the rough is non existant. The only difficulty are the bunkers which are large and deep but presumably wrongly positioned as I was only in 2 and they were on the par 3’s. I am writing this immediately after playing and I cannot remember many of the holes, bland, straightforward and without interest but i refer to the par fours and fives. On the other hand, 2 of the par 3’s were ridiculously difficult with greens above the tee and no view of the green plus cavernous bunkers all over the place, mostly quite unnecessary. The 16th and 17th are both par 3’s but perefectly reasonable fair holes.
I played on a Sunday behind a competition and it took 5 hours and twenty minutes to get round, and i was told that this was normal and even on normal rounds 4 hours was acceptable. There are distance indicators on the sprinklers but no 150 and 100 metre posts, a pity as this would help to speed things up as you have to go right up to the sprinkler to read the distance. There are no hole layouts at the tee, so you are firing into the unknown, though the fairways are so wide that this is not a problem : just blast away with your driver.
The course is surrounded by some very large but very uninspiring houses, presumably the real estate sales helped pay for the course. Not my cup of tea. The course is in good condition but the greens were rather hacked up after a competition in the morning. This course is rated far too highly. David Laird Jan 2018
I haven't played it but I know it has a lot of fans. I took a look at the videos of the hole on their website and it looks like a lot of young trees not yet matured that will tighten things up. I assume you got it for $35 (or about 20 pounds) which is cheap. 5 hrs + is a joke though, that would spoil it.