COOLANGATTA & TWEED HEADS GOLF CLUB
Soorley Street, Tweed Heads South, NSW Australia
Click here to tour the Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club web site
By Garry Kennedy - Hacker Golf Quarterly Magazine
It’s hard to imagine a more ideal climate for which to enjoy golf, when you dream of the lush fairways and sun filled skies of Queensland. It’s not too hot, rarely too cold. Like little bear’s porridge - it’s just right.
The Gold Coast in the southern east corner of the state is often referred to as the Golf Coast, and it’s not a simple slip of the tongue that has you talking that way. There is an abundance of fine golf courses to enjoy around this neck of the woods. The weather is referred to as "beautiful one day, perfect the next" and as a holiday destination for the "Mexicans" (anyone from Sydney and Melbourne) you can find plenty to do everyday from theme parks, beaches, boating or just plain lazing.
For my way of thinking though, the Gold Coast golf courses have jumped a little ahead of themselves. Unashamedly catering for the overseas buck (where a round of golf equates to the foreign debt of a third world country) green fees have sky rocketed. For the average bloke (or family), more than one round while on holiday at a middling green fee of $90 is too much to handle – and fair enough too!
However there is always the exception to the rule. Enter Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club. It is situated in Tweed Heads on the NSW side of the border - about five kilometres from Coolangatta, its neighbouring Queensland town.
In my opinion, as a holiday destination Coolangatta is just the best (and most affordable) option around. It has a large domestic airport so when you land, the plethora of great accommodation options in Coolangatta and Tweed Heads are no more than a five-minute taxi ride away.
Because the area has a slightly lower profile than say Surfers Paradise or Noosa, accommodation, eating and entertainment are cheaper, but no less in quality I can assure you. At Coolangatta/Tweed Heads it is less crowded, less glitzy, less pacy, less high-rise, better priced and more family orientated – just the ticket for the getaway you deserve.
There are 36 holes with both the River and West courses providing good golfing challenges. Both have water on many holes that must be considered when playing, without it being too daunting or infringing. Both courses are heavily bunkered.
Solid lines of trees follow the fairways. While you’ll find your ball (most of the time) you will be punished. It’s not a matter of a single row of trees, they appear in clumps – you’ll have to take your medicine if you get off the cut stuff and chip out.
For mine, the River course is the more challenging of the two courses. It doesn’t play as long but it is more a placement course. It is heavily treed, with water coming into play on about 6 holes. In particular the stretch encompassing holes 11-14 is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing over the 36 holes. A small rainforest sits in the middle of the four holes and you play your golf around it. Here you are likely to see goannas and an abundance of bird life including bush turkeys. You’ll see the wildlife on other parts of both courses too, but in this mini ecosystem the viewing is that much more spectacular.
The River course also incorporates the original back nine, so it also has a real sense of establishment.
The West course is more open, but the trade off is a lot more water in play. Lakes and dams are in play on 10 holes. Again I stress it isn’t too daunting but for some (if not most golfers), the fact that it is there is enough to grab a golfer’s attention!
On the River course you open with a right dogleg par five – not long, but it has plenty to think about. A small pond on the right off the tee (at hackers distance), fairway pots at driving distance for the lower handicap player. A small water hazard cuts across the fairway up near the green to challenge big second shots in, or to grab dribbling third shots from the less skilled hoping to skip up onto the dance floor.
The sixth is another par five that makes you think from the tee and when approaching the green. This time OOB looms on the left, while bunkers close the right side. Up at the business end, water is short right, greenside left and a number of bunkers around the target add to a real golfing test. Walking away with par is a good result.
The seventh is a top par three, water seemingly everywhere, but up near the green the bunkers are more likely to cause you grief.
On the back nine you open with a great little par three. With water to carry off the tee it follows the hole for some way on the right, with the bunkers then taking over as likely hazards you’ll need to deal with.
I have already mentioned the stretch of 11-14 on the River layout. It takes in the breathtaking rainforest clump, which needs to be avoided at all costs. It’s thick, dark and chances are if you go in more than four feet you won’t come out. The highlight for me was the twelfth, where you hit a strong fairway wood off the tee to the dogleg left corner, leaving a short iron into the green. The green is set back with the rainforest closing in on all sides – making for an extremely pretty if not daunting approach.
Thirteen from the tee is as tight a tee shot as you are likely to get from the back markers – probably no more than 10 metres wide for over 50 metres, before the fairway opens up. My advice is don’t try to over steer the ball through this shoot. Pick your line, close your eyes and hope you get out to the other side!
On both courses the eighteenth is a feature. On the River track it is a long par five, where two straight, big blows are needed to set up an approach shot in. From around sixty metres out, the fairway rises to the green that is heavily bunkered and features the spectacular backdrop of the magnificent clubhouse.
The West course has its fair share of feature holes too. You again open with a par five, but it’s the third hole that grabs your early attention. The 174 metres par three is a very pretty hole. Water sits left off the tee but it doesn’t come into play. The challenge lies in the diagonal lying green that has a large bunker left and right. A mean pin position will almost make this an impossible flagstick to attack.
The very next hole offers a great challenge to golfers of all standards. A large water hazard runs along the right side of the fairway from about 200 metres out from the green to its front. A big drive may see you with the opportunity to take on the water and fly at the flag. The safer approach is around the left, with the incentive to shorten the trip considerably by staying closer to the water’s edge.
I really enjoyed the run of holes five through eight, a more open part of the course, but no less challenging. The greens have interesting shapes, the fairways undulate and the bunkers are well placed.
On the back nine, hole twelve is possibly the hardest of both courses. At nearly 400 metres long, the par four is best attacked off the tee from the right side of the fairway, and you need to be long to get a look at the green. Water and trees loom left if you stray this side, while a line of bunkers on the right from around ninety metres may catch the cautious golfer trying to sneak up on the green.
The 17th is another lovely par three, water directly in front off the tee, with bunkers surrounding the dance floor – left, right and in front.
Again the eighteenth is a solid finish, another par five, dead straight to the hole and like 18 on the River course finishing with a rising green, the clubhouse serving as the backdrop. Many interesting swales, bumps and undulations around both the eighteenth greens make approach shots in that much more challenging.
If you compare course variety and selection (the 36 holes), facilities, price, atmosphere, conditioning and ambience I reckon Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club is the best-optioned golf course on the so-called Golf Coast.
The $35 green fee goes along way to this conclusion when comparing it to other more highly rated, new courses.
This course however isn’t a reclaimed swamp, has more facilities overall than most others, is playable all year round almost regardless of weather and it is a relatively easy walking track that doesn’t require a golf cart. Spend the other $60 if you like – but I’m telling you there isn’t really any need to.