IN common with great golf courses everywhere, Brookwater, located at Springfield, 30 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD and 45 minutes from the Gold Coast, is very much a product of its natural surroundings.
There is an aesthetic quality to the Greg Norman-designed course and a self-conscious reverence for nature.
The course is quite different, of course, from those designed and built in Queensland in the past 30 years.
There are no architectural gimmicks as Brookwater plays through a narrow corridor that weaves its way through natural, undulating Australian bushland.
If you enjoy tranquillity on a golf course then Brookwater is for you as many tree-lined fairways are secluded and you get the feeling your group is the only one on the golf course.
And there’s plenty of wildlife to keep you company.
Norman certainly made sensible use of the land he was afforded.
One result is length – Brookwater stretches to 6505m from the black tees, 6104m (gold), 5600m (silver), 5276m (jade) and 4929m (red).
While it remains one of Australia’s most popular public access courses for golfers of all levels, it will come as no surprise to learn it is one of the Shark’s favourites.
A few years ago, Norman called to tell me he was proud of what he achieved at Brookwater.
“To tell you the truth, David, it’s one of my favourite golf courses in Australia,” he said.
“Let me say, it’s a beautiful and demanding golf course because it’s a narrow corridor.”
Mind you, Brookwater is not as demanding as it was when it opened in 2002, however, it remains a stern, yet fairer, test for golfers who enjoy a challenge.
Brookwater director of golf Joe Webber said playability was so much better since Norman’s noticeable changes.
The first big change golfers will notice is to the 380m first hole (black tees) – a wonderful elegant and gentle rolling hole that doglegs left and sweeps down into a valley.
The second fairway bunker on the left has been removed along with the greenside bunker on the right.
“Previously if you missed it right you had a difficult uphill chip shot to a false front or into a deep bunker on the right,” Webber explained.
“Now there is a bailout area if you don’t want to take on the green or pin. You can now play your ball short right of the green and have a straightforward up-and-down shot.
“It’s the same at the third hole. In the past, you would struggle to get up-and-down.
“Both the bunkers on the left were really difficult.
“Now you can hit it a little long left and it allows you a straightforward chip to any part of the green.
“Mind you, it’s still a challenge if you miss it in any other spots.”
Perhaps the most significant changes include the removal of some trees and thick scrub that bordered the fairways.
“We have taken out a lot of trees and underbrush, which has widened the playing corridors and landing areas,” Brookwater Golf and Country Club general manager Graham Dale said.
“The course has been opened up so golfers will now be able to find their golf ball if they miss the fairways.”
Well, Dale is right because I recently reacquainted myself with the championship golf course and I finished the round with the golf ball I started with.
Golf course superintendent Rob Weiks said the redesign and construction process would ensure golfers receive maximum satisfaction from their golfing experience.
“Golf corridors have been widened to bring back some of the original design strategy making it more playable for the higher handicap player.
“Introducing couch in these areas and removing tussock grasses around tees has also made it more playable resulting in an increased pace of play for golfers.
“The course remains a challenging test of golf for the low handicap player while subtle design changes have made it more playable and enjoyable for the beginner and intermediate golfer as well.”
Aesthetically, Brookwater is much more pleasing.
“Now you can actually see the fairways and greens whereas before they were partly hidden by trees or shrubs,” Dale added.
“It’s opened it up and got back to natural bush and it’s going to make it a much more enjoyable round of golf for the average player.”
Six greens and surrounding complexes were redesigned.
Greens on holes one and three have been lowered substantially allowing for softer surrounds and a better variety of pin positions.
Holes nine and 10 have had the green surfaces enlarged and made slightly more visible from the approach shot allowing the majority of players a better chance of keeping their ball on the green.
The 13th green approach and complex has had a complete overhaul.
“Enlarging this green and shifting the approach bunkers has allowed it to be more enticing for the long hitter to reach in two shots while the average golfer has room to lay up,” Weiks said.
“All of these redesign adjustments have not only improved on the playability and strategy of the holes but also on traffic and wear around the greens and agronomic and surface conditions throughout.”
Dale said many changes were made with the average golfer in mind.
“We now have a course that people will want to come back and play on a regular basis,” Dale said.
There are many memorable holes including the fourth and 13th, which is the course’s signature hole.
The 551m par-5 fourth from the back tee block is a dramatic hole.
The tees (there are three to choose from for men and two for women) are elevated and the drive carries to a fairway in a shallow valley, which curves right to left around a number of fierce looking bunkers carved into the ridge on the direct line of a long drive.
The 551m 13th off the back tee block plays steeply downhill and does not play as long as its measure length.
“You need to hit it down towards the fairway bunker without reaching it,” Webber advised.
“Of course, you can take on the corner to give yourself an easier shot to the green, which is well protected by a fairway bunker 60m short of the green.
“There is a large greenside bunker and overhanging trees so you need to target your shots nicely to get out of there with a par.
“You get out of the golf course what you put in,” Webber said.
“The qualities and features are the natural setting and the undulating fairways.
“From tee to green, Brookwater is extremely beautiful to the eye and the greens are a good putting challenge.”
Still, golfers will still have to bear down and concentrate from the opening tee shot to the final putt on the 18th.
Those who do will head for the 19th hole very happy indeed.
CLUBHOUSE: Speaking of the 19th hole, the clubhouse is of a similar high standard. The café and bar offers a relaxed bar and dining experience.
The friendly staff ensure golfers and families enjoy fresh modern cuisine and old favourites with a millennial twist along with a fabulous view.
It’s open for breakfast and a-la-carte lunch Monday to Sunday and dinner Fridays and Saturdays.
The clubhouse is also perfect for intimate personal celebrations including weddings, gala and corporate events, conferences and board meetings. The Brookwater Glasshouse caters for 20 to 300 guests.
Dale told Inside Golf that Brookwater planned a $3m upgrade of the clubhouse facilities that will include a large deck, improved golf shop and café making it a dedicated function centre.
GOLF SHOP: The fully-stocked golf shop carries a wide range of golf equipment and apparel. The friendly staff can assist with club and shoe fitting, professional advice and lessons.
PRACTICE FACILITIES: The driving ranges stretches to more than 300 metres and is the perfect place to improve your long and short game. There’s a chipping green that emulates course conditions, a deep bunker and a long bunker practice area and a large putting green.
PRO-AM: Brookwater Golf and Country Club is gearing up for its $65,000 pro-am on Wednesday, December 6.
To be sure, the pro-am will attract the very best professionals on the circuit.
The pros will contest a nearest-the-pin shootout to be staged in front of the clubhouse on Tuesday, December 5.
It’ll only be a wedge shot for these sharp-shooters with the winner walking away with $5000.
But wait, there more.
“If anyone does hole out there is a Club Car golf cart up for grabs,” Webber said.
This exciting shootout, which starts at 3.30pm, is not one to miss.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Brookwater Golf and Country Club
1 Tournament Drive
Brookwater Qld 4300
Phone (07) 3814-5500