Holiday at Home: South of the Swan – Golf Australia Magazine
But the travel across two time zones from the eastern states, let me assure you, is well worth it if your golf clubs are in the cargo hold.
As is the case with all of Australia’s capital cities, there is terrific golf to be found within a short drive after leaving the airport terminal. In Perth, that means scouting the suburbs south of the Swan River, where you will find a great mix of acclaimed private member’s clubs and high-quality publicly accessible layouts.
Less than 20 minutes after pulling out of the airport car park, I was driving through the gate at Collier Park golf course – a 27-hole public access complex boasting great practice facilities as well as a world-class landscaped mini golf course.
Collier Park has three loops of nine holes – the Pines, Island and Lake Courses.
The Pines layout, created by Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge in the mid-80s, is carved from an old pine plantation and the loop’s namesake feature line every hole.
For mine, the Lake and Island combination is the most interesting and fun layout to play.
While the par-35 Lake Course, designed by Michael Coate, is the shortest of the nines, it is far from the easiest. It has a links style about it, with wide rolling fairways, punctuated by strategic bunkering en route to large, dramatic green complexes. The loop is named after its most memorable offering, the par-3 5th hole, where the tee shot must carry all the way across a lake to reach the safety of the putting surface.
The par-36 Island Course, designed by successful former touring pro Terry Gale, is the most recent addition and derives its name from the island that lies within the huge lake that borders the 1st, 3rd and 4th holes. The long par-4 3rd is the only bunkerless hole on the Island nine but the challenge here is to keep your ball out of the lake that looms down the left edge of the fairway and abuts the fringe of the green.
Perth is home to two private member ‘Royal’ courses – Royal Perth Golf Club and Royal Fremantle Golf Club – but limited tee times are available to interstate visitors who book in advance.
The Royal Perth layout – just 10 minutes’ drive east of Collier Park and a pitch shot from the banks of the Swan River – dates back to 1929 in its current form. But the club recently commissioned design firms Clayton, DeVries & Pont (CDP) and Kruse Golf (KG) to author a long-term plan for the course.
Sitting on little more than 80 acres, Royal Perth is reasonably short by modern standards and the designers will be looking to make a very good course even better through interesting design.
“The design collaboration of our two firms will bring an amazing depth of experience and knowledge to the process at Royal Perth,” Harley Kruse said. “It is an exciting prospect and we look forward to working with this historic club for improving the golf on its sand-based golfing land.
“It is tight by modern standards so every centimetre will count as we plan and work from boundary to boundary. Royal Perth can be a great example of how well-designed golf does not necessarily need to be bigger to be better.”
If you want to experience some of the best bentgrass greens and kikuyu fairways in Western Australia, you have to play Royal Fremantle.
Established in 1905, the original nine holes were laid out by founding member Arthur Oliphant and Peter Anderson, the 1893 British Amateur Champion who just happened to be working as the headmaster at Scotch College in nearby Claremont at the time. By the end of 1909, Fremantle became the first 18-hole course in Western Australia.
Today, Royal Fremantle is one of the oldest courses in the country that still remains on its original site. And, with that, come the pressures of a city growing up around your boundaries. The layout, at 6,168 metres, is not long in comparison with modern creations and will never stretch too much beyond that. But what it lacks in serious length, it more than makes up for in challenging your shot-making ability. And those playing surfaces … very nice.