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.
Date: May 03, 2020