Genesis Great Golf Road Trip: South Coast, NSW
Not far from Sydney lies an enviable golf road trip.
From Wollongong in the north, all the way down to Batemans Bay, this two-and-a-half hour stretch of driving is only part of the New South Wales South Coast but takes in memorable golf courses, landscapes, small country towns and some typical Australian fauna.
The NSW South Coast is our latest Genesis Great Golf Road Trip.
Inside Tip: If you are leaving from Sydney in the early hours of the morning, and are lucky enough to see the sunrise, make sure to take the scenic drive through the Illawarra’s northern suburbs and drive over the cantilevered Sea Cliff Bridge – you won’t find a more spectacular vista from inside your car.
Just south of Wollongong in Shellharbour is the relatively young layout at The Links Shell Cove.
The 18-hole golf course relocated a short distance to its current site in 2004.
The Links Shell Cove was first built as a championship golf course – designed to challenge the best players – but was later developed into a friendlier test which reopened in August last year.
“We’ve tried to make the course a little easier, a little bit more enjoyable, a little bit more fun, and as we like to say, it’s golf for everyone here at the Links Shell Cove,” said The Links Shell Cove’s Golf Operations Manager, Peter Nascimento.
“We built more forward tee boxes to make it a bit more accessible to those new golfers or shorter hitters, the older players, whoever it may be.”
But there’s still plenty of teeth from the back tees at The Links Shell Cove, especially at its signature hole – the par-3 third – which, from the 169-metre back tee, features a menacing carry over water.
Only 15 minutes south of Shellharbour is the gorgeous coastal town of Kiama.
Its lighthouse overlooks arguably the town’s main tourist attraction – the Kiama Blowhole – where an estimated 900,000 people visit each year to watch the sea spray surge from beneath the rocks.
If you’re after a quieter inland country escape, only 45 minutes southwest of Kiama is the quaint town of Berry.
Historic architecture dominates the main strip of Queen Street where, in recent years, boutique shops have thrived.
Inside Tip: The Berry bypass has now opened, splitting traffic from the previously forced main street of the town, however if you want to experience the best of the South Coast, make sure you take the time to stop and browse through antique shops, premium country homeware stores, and eat at one of the many high-quality cafes.
Just over an hour’s drive from Berry is one of the golfing highlights of the South Coast – the Hilltop Course at Mollymook Golf Club.
Its narrow and highly undulating 18-hole course sits less than a kilometre inland and high atop the coast.
Mollymook’s Hilltop Course is visually stunning, especially when the sun beams through the tall gum trees that line each hole to create a spectacle not dissimilar to US Masters venue, Augusta National.
The undisputed signature hole at Mollymook is the downhill par-three 17th, which plays across a colourful garden bed in front of the tee and beyond a creek fronting the green.
Mollymook’s Director of Golf, Barry West, is the former coach of PGA Tour pro Steven Bowditch, and since his visit to Augusta in 2014 with his then playing pupil, has drawn his own comparisons between the two courses.
“If you get in certain areas of the course here, it does look very similar [to Augusta] in some aspects,” West said.
“It’s one of the best courses you’ll find in New South Wales, let alone the South Coast itself.”
Four hours’ drive south of Sydney and only two hours from Canberra is Batemans Bay, where the 27-hole facility at Catalina Country Club offers premium golf and playful kangaroos to indulge the senses.
Catalina was originally a nine-hole course framed by a racing track and was a playground to many of Australia’s great golfers during the days of the South Coast Pro Am in the 1970s.
“Back in 1976, it was Greg Norman’s first four-round professional event where he actually won some prize money,” said Club Catalina General Manager, Guy Chapman.
For the record, Norman finished third at the 1976 South Coast Pro Am behind runner-up, Terry Gale, and winner, Rodger Davis.
With tranquil golf and sweeping ocean views, the New South Wales South Coast is an easy escape from Sydney, or the nation’s capital, and a Genesis Great Golf Road Trip.