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South East Queensland, and the Gold Coast in particular, is home to Australia’s greatest collection of resort layouts. There are over 20 courses within a 45 minute drive of Surfers Paradise. Commencing in the late 1980’s, Japanese and other investors drove a boom in course construction that has continued to this day. Often the courses were created by reclaiming swamps to form raised fairways and a series of interconnecting lakes and canals that serve as water hazards. But there are also hillier courses set amongst stately stands of towering native gums in this lush subtropical paradise. All the top resort courses feature the sort of privileges usually enjoyed only by members of exclusive private clubs - fully equipped professional shops with extensive hire equipment, practice ranges, locker rooms (often with Japanese style baths), licensed restaurants and bars, motorized cart hire and on-course food and drink service.
Considered by many to be the finest golf course on the Coast is Peter Thomson’s Hope Island. The grooming of greens and fairways is immaculate, with white sand in the 128 pot bunkers. It may not be a natural links in the classic style, but it sure does play like one – especially if you tackle it in the wind. The imposing contemporary Venetian style clubhouse is open to all with magnificent locker rooms, casual and fine dining, or simply a comfortable lounge or bar for that drink after the game.
Just across the road at Sanctuary Cove there’s a whole Resort Village of restaurants, shops, a marina, hotel complex and, oh yes, two 18 hole golf courses. Ross Watson redesigned The Palms, whilst Arnold Palmer’s The Pines is reserved for members – with Global Golf clients having access privileges. The Pines has an Augusta feel to its tree-lined fairways and is regarded as one of our toughest tests of golf.
Greg Norman’s design of The Glades opened to rave reviews in 2000. It is a championship layout with gently undulating manicured couch fairways and slick Bent greens. The trademark bunkering will make you think, and there’s water in play on several holes. In all, nine hectares of wetlands are home to ducks, jabirus, egrets and other birdlife.
Lakelands, the first Jack Nicklaus signature course in Australia, offers five tee positions, plenty of water hazards and one of the prettiest par threes anywhere, with a tiny waterfall cascading down beside the green as well as extensive bunkering alongside fairways and around greens. There’s an imposing clubhouse with full dining facilities and, as with many of the resort courses, a circulating drink cart provides on course refreshments.
The region’s newest course is a 45 minute drive towards Brisbane. Brookwater is a stunning challenge designed by Greg Norman and set in natural hillsides and valleys surrounded by towering gums. The undulations and the dramatic Norman-style bunkering ensure that this is a very stern test of golf.