My Golfing Home: Celebrating 100 Years
Kooyonga Golf Club has held and continues to hold the fondest place in my heart. I have called it my home club since I joined as a 15-year-old junior member in 1999. Despite living primarily in the United States since 2004, I still consider Kooyonga my golfing home. The club has produced some fabulous golfing talent over the years. The list includes multiple Australian Amateur Champions and representatives of Australia at amateur golf’s highest level. The club has hoisted the State Championship Trophy (Simpson Cup) 29 times since World War II. I was fortunate to be part of three winning teams for Kooyonga, captaining the side in 2004 under our late team manager and former Australian Amateur Champion, John Muller.
A Brief History
In 1923, HL Rymill laid out a nine hole course on a vast area of swamp and sand dunes. Rymill first visited the property a year prior to opening the initial nine holes. The second nine was completed and opened in June of 1924. The club retains a number of these original swamp and dune areas. Most notable are the sand dunes on a number of holes and the swamp separating holes 9 and 10. The course has always been a strong test when prepared to tournament standards with breaking par proving challenging. However, on a day to day basis is considered a playable and enjoyable course for member play as well.
Club Restorations and Renovations
The course has undergone many changes in the years I have been a member; some good, some bad. The club is in midst of a long-term course restoration project, guided by life member and family friend Neil Crafter. Over the years, different designers made changes and the course began to lack cohesion from one hole to the next. Neil and the Kooyonga Golf Club grounds staff are doing a great job restoring old features and bringing back this lost flow. There have been significant renovations and upgrades to the clubhouse, locker rooms, and pro shop in the last 10 years. The golf academy at the northeastern corner of the driving range was a welcome addition along with a short game facility adjacent to the first fairway.
About the Golf Course
The golf course is by no means long in today’s world, measuring 6,899 yards from the championship tees. Golfers have to think from the tee with many holes well bunkered where most tee shots end up. Laying up with less than driver in the wider landing zones leaves a longer approach. Attacking with a driver into the narrower corridors, or challenging the fairway bunkers will significantly shorten the approaches. Low handicap golfers can reach most par 5 greens with a mid to long iron for their second shot. The par 4’s usually require a wedge of some sort when the aggressive approach is taken from the tee.
My favorite aspect of Kooyonga is the greens and their surrounds. The course has a total of 59 bunkers protecting the 18 greens, many being deep and unforgiving. The majority of the greens are perched up and pitch from back to front, sloping away on all sides. The runoff areas and bunkers constantly challenge the golfer with few straightforward shots, requiring a lot of imagination and touch to get up and down. The green surfaces are firm, fast and undulating, placing a premium on speed control to hole putts.
I have always taken pride in my short game. Hours of tireless practice and playing at Kooyonga was the greatest contributing factor to this. I learned to play shots from off the green many others did not which broadened my imagination. The firm, fast and undulating greens placed an increased premium on pace control in my putting. Kooyonga made all these things fun, I was never bored. No other course has brought me more joy or good memories than Kooyonga Golf Club. I hope with time I will find myself returning home more often to enjoy the course I love so dearly.