Genesis Great Golf Road Trip: Barossa Valley
Wine and golf go hand-in-hand.
The latter is one of the ultimate leisure exercises and the former one of the most relaxing ways to unwind afterwards.
Few places on the entire planet boast the breadth of world-class wineries on hand in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and it just so happens that the region is home to one of Australia’s most underrated and tranquil golf courses.
As far as golf road trips are concerned, the Barossa Valley is one seriously worth considering, and there’s no better way to discover the stunning region than by road, especially if you’re riding in a luxurious Genesis.
The Barossa Valley is just a one-hour drive north-east of Adelaide, but to truly experience all it has to offer, you will need at least three days.
In size, the region is less than 1000 square kilometres yet home to more than 200 wineries, close to 80 cellar doors and a seemingly endless choice of restaurants and accommodation.
From Adelaide’s CBD, the easiest way to enter the Barossa is via Tanunda, but just before you hit the outskirts of the town of close to 5,000 people, take a right at Golflinks Road, drive a few kilometres, and you’ll reach one of the untapped treasures of regional Australian golf - Tanunda Pines Golf Club.
Tanunda Pines club house, picture courtesy Tanunda Pines
Inside Tip: Although you can do the trip quickly, we really recommend spending a night or two in Tanunda or Nuriootpa. If you’re better half is looking at quality time off the course try a wine-tasting tour, or cooking classes – Casa Carboni promises to deliver Italian taste to the Barossa lifestyle.
Redesigned in the early 1970s by Murray Crafter, Tanunda Pines stands apart from so many other courses with its lush green couch fairways, giant gum trees and natural design.
The layout is perfectly at peace with the land with no contrived mounds or artificial water hazards, just good old-fashioned tree-lined, undulating golf.
Tanunda Pines - which was originally built in 1938 - has its own rich story to tell.
One of its owners is Robert O’Callaghan, a golf course architecture enthusiast who founded Rockford Wines and has even had the privilege of playing at the ultra-exclusive US Masters venue, Augusta National Golf Club - twice!
Rockford Wines looks stunning in Autumn, picture courtesy of Rockford Wines
Insider Tip: Playing golf in the Barossa can be an extremely pleasant round. The weather tends to be more temperate in the middle of the day - as long as it’s not in the middle of a famed South Australia heatwave you can play in the middle of the day.
O’Callaghan moved to the Barossa Valley in the early 1970s and his love for Tanunda Pines is unquestioned.
At one stage, when the club was struggling to remain viable, O’Callaghan and six other members volunteered to buy the golf course and it has thrived as a privately-owned members club.
“I think one bloke had a fantasy that he might have made some money out of it but I think the rest of us pretty much knew that this was a contribution to the well-being of the community because you can’t lose something like this,” O’Callaghan said.
The commitment of O’Callaghan and the six others to the future of Tanunda Pines has been rewarded with a stroke of luck from Jacob’s Creek Wines.
For the past three years, Tanunda Pines’ lush green grass cover has been owed to a highly favourable arrangement it has with Jacob’s Creek, which has struck a long-term deal to give the golf club approximately 125 megalitres of storm water annually that would otherwise be disposed of as waste.
Many other courses around Australia’s southern states have been brought to their knees in the grips of summer droughts on more than one occasion, and the fortune of Tanunda Pines’ water deal can’t be underestimated.
And neither can the course’s tranquility.
Walking the fairways, the sounds of birdlife are prevalent and the challenges of the layout vary from hole to hole.
Perhaps the highlight of anyone’s round is the tee shot at the par-three 11th which falls close to 40 feet in altitude from tee to green.
The 18-hole par-72 championship course hosted the South Australian PGA Championship in 2006, continues to host major events like the Holden Scramble and an annual Senior Legends PGA Pro-Am and revered Australian golfers Wayne Grady, Rodger Davis and Peter O’Malley have all been members at Tanunda Pines.
And the history continues inside the clubhouse.
Adorning the wall above the bar is a framed flag from Augusta National signed by Australia’s first and only Masters Champion, Adam Scott.
Inside Tip: Go and admire the flag. It’s a little golf nerdy of us, but go and have a beer and reminisce like you were right there at Augusta…
The clubhouse will soon feature a framed piece of memorabilia signed by this year’s Women’s Australian Open champion, Ha Na Jang, after Tanunda Pines drew the winning South Korean in a state-wide club raffle before the recent national championship.
The Barossa is home to well-known wineries including Penfolds, Peter Lehmann Wines, Wolf Blass and Yalumba, but it’s the small scale operators in the area that can be just as satisfying to visit and the township of Tanunda is a good place to start.
In Murray Street, you’ll find RedHeads Wine - a boutique winemaker that prides itself on limiting batches for enhanced quality.
RedHeads team member Dan Graham worked in the winemaking industry in Canada, Portugal, New Zealand, Italy and France before settling on RedHeads and the near-perfect climate the Barossa Valley provides for sourcing grapes and producing wines.
“We have very cool nights, very warm days and not a huge amount of rain so we get a lot of concentration and intensity with everything that we have so it gives us great flexibility and access to incredible fruits,” Graham said.
Redheads staff apply some force to the latest bunches of grapes
If Tanunda Pines fails to satisfy your golfing desires, more joy awaits at the beautiful Barossa Valley Golf Club.
Just a five-minute drive from the township of Nuriootpa, the 6,026-metre par-72 course boasts its own litany of birdlife and a small brigade of kangaroos that like to make their presence known on both fairway and green.
The Barossa Valley's reputation for wine has never been in question, but its untold potential for golfing excellence is finally coming to the fore.