WORD of mouth is a powerful advertising tool and it is making Palmer Coolum Resort a fan favourite all over again.

This year golfers have been flocking to the Sunshine Coast to play one of Australia’s iconic layouts designed by Robert Trent Jones Junior.

Yes, the resort did find the rough a number of years ago, but that’s no longer the case with the condition of the golf course now at its pristine best.

“We have invested heavily in the golf course in the last two years with new machinery and new staff,” operations manager, director of golf and PGA professional Paul Crangle told Inside Golf. 

“It all started with the appointment of superintendent Kelvin Nicholson, who came to us from Pacific Harbour in 2019.

“The irrigation system has been improved and there have been improvements right across the board.

“We have 13 on-course staff and the golf course is in mint condition.”

Crangle said the resort continues to receive good feedback about the course from local and visiting golfers.

“A lot of people are talking about how good the course is at the moment,” he said. “People are coming here in their droves to witness how good it is.

“We are having our best figures for many, many years which is great.”

Palmer Coolum Resort no longer has a membership base and that’s been good for visiting club and social golfers. 

Public access is now seven days a week and golfers are taking advantage of the changes.

One of the first things returning golfers will discover is the routing of the course has changed with the switching of the two quite different nines.

First designed in 1988, Trent Jones Junior returned in 2009 to add six new holes when part of the course made way for a new development.

The new holes are now part of the back nine after it was decided to swap the two nines in 2014.

“The reason for that (swap) is now the first tee sits right outside the clubhouse with the ninth green to the right and the 18th green to the left,” Crangle explained. 

“It’s a traditional golf course-style setup where you can see one, nine and 18 right in front of you.”

THE COURSE

Without a doubt, Palmer Coolum Resort has a superb layout and it’s definitely worth playing more than once simply because you will want to after exiting the 18th green.

You may well be distracted by the picturesque beauty of the lakes and tropical foliage, but it’s one of those challenging courses from which you learn so much the first time.

“The course is not particularly long and the rough can be quite brutal but it’s a great test of golf. If you miss a fairway you will be punished and probably struggle to hit the green,” Crangle said.

“I would not pull out my driver on any of the holes on the front nine. My advice is to take a 3-wood or hybrid off the tee. Just keep the ball in play.

“Once you are in play the greens open up. Then you can take on this beast.”

For the record, the course has three sets of tee blocks – black (championship), blue (men’s) and red (women). From the black tee blocks the course stretches to 6137m, the blues 5638m and the reds 4981m.

The Slope ratings are 138, 135 and 129 respectively. 

So what’s the course’s best defence?

“Water, rough and the wind,” said Crangle. “And there are a number of subtle doglegs holes that slope towards the water.

“So, accuracy is the key. If you keep the ball in play you will have half a chance of scoring well.”

Set against the backdrop of Mt Coolum, the course was conceived from swamp land so it comes as no surprise that water, in the form of marshes and lakes, is a ball-consuming hazard on many holes.

The landing zones for most drives are generous, but big-hitters can run out of fairway so the tip is leave your driver in the bag on the front nine and your ego in the locker-room.

“People have a tendency to pull out a driver on every par-4 and par-5 and it’s only after they have launched the ball that they realise they have run out of fairway,” Crangle warned.

The greens often have a sharp rise between the front and back and the vast majority of greens are relatively narrow at the front, widening as they deepen. Some greens balloon to the right and others to the left.

The bunkers don’t have steep faces, but that doesn’t mean some of them are not deep.

The 326m (blue tees) first hole doglegs left with water down the left and trees down the right. It will take all your skill and concentration to make par here.

The second hole (140m) is breathtaking and can be treacherous as it is scenic. Many golfers will aim left because it is further away from the water that guards the green front and right. It’s a real knee-knocker and club-selection is critical.

The ninth is now the course’s signature hole. Anyone who witnessed the professionals attempting to win the Australian PGA Championship on the 385m last hole will know how challenging it is.

It doglegs left with water all the way down the left side of the fairway to the green while two fairway bunkers right await a wayward drive. And the green slopes right to left – towards the lake. It’s a ripper of a hole.

If you want to have a chance to play to your handicap the advice is arrive early and and head for the 250m driving range before going to the large putting green to hone your flat-stick skills.

There is a comfortable yet unpretentious bar that offers a wide range of food choices including platters, wedges, calamari dishes, spring rolls, sandwiches etc. All washed down by a cold beer, glass of wine or soft-drink.

After that, you’ll want to enter the pro shop to book in for another round of golf. After all, one round of golf at Palmer Coolum Resort is never enough.

PALMER COOLUM RESORT FACT FILE

Address: Palmer Coolum Resort, 1 Warran Rd, Yaroomba, Qld 4573.

Contact: Phone: (07) 5449 3366.

Website: www.palmercoolumresort.com.au

Getting there: From Brisbane, head north to the Sunshine Coast (approximately 130 kilometres). The resort is 10 minutes from the Sunshine Coast Airport.

Pro shop: Fully-stocked with everything a golfer needs.

Golf carts: The resort recently added 76 brand-new Club Car carts to its fleet. 

Handy hints: Distance marked on sprinkler heads is to the centre of the green. Green distance marker indicates 150m to centre of green.

Green and cart fees: From $115 in a shared golf cart. $75 for nine holes. Sunshine Coast golfers $90 for 18 holes in a shared cart* (Valid Mon – Fri, except PH) *T’s and C’s apply.

Best days to play: Available to the public seven days a week, however, it’s quieter Monday through Friday. Bookings essential.

Rental shoes and clubs: Yes, premium clubs and shoes available for hire.

About David Newbery

Chief writer David Newbery has been living, breathing and writing and editing golf for more than 30 years. His extensive knowledge of the game comes from covering golf around the world. Hired by Inside Golf in 2009, David previously worked as the editor of The Golfer for 25 years and before that worked for numerous daily newspapers in Australia and overseas. The Brisbane-based journalist describes his golf game as “a work in progress”, but has had the privilege of playing golf with some of the game’s best players including nine-time major winner Gary Player. David enjoys travelling, reading, music, photography and spending time with family and friends – on and off the golf course.

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