NOW that’s what I call a grand and inviting entrance!
The drive into Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club off Soorley Street at Tweed Heads South stretches to about 1500 metres, winding its way past the lush fairways and manicured greens of the West Course – first of two first-class 18-hole layouts.
It takes about three minutes to reach the impressive three-level clubhouse plus mezzanine, which has facilities to match the quality of the West and River courses.
It has a calming effect and on the cloudless Monday in November, I can’t wait to collect a scorecard and get to the first tee.
The large, well-stocked pro shop and practice areas are abuzz with golfers preparing for the round ahead.
That’s always a good sign, right?
Members know and visitors soon find out just why people come here to play golf.
“We have competitions every day and visitors are always welcome,” said golf operations manager Nicole James, a former tour professional.
Many visitors envy the Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club members because “they have two championship courses”.
There are times when the members can’t decide which course to play – West or River – so they toss a coin.
Visitors shouldn’t worry about a coin toss – just play both.
The West Course is slightly longer with a number of testing dogleg holes and water hazards.
For the record, the West Course has Bent grass greens while the River Course has 328 grass.
Situated virtually on the Queensland/NSW border, the club offers the best of both worlds – great golfing in one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations.
The club’s entire 101 hectares is a dedicated nature reserve and last year both courses were ranked in Australia’s top-100 public access golf courses.
All 36 holes offer great golfing challenges – relaxing but testing, gently undulating to flat, fairways guarded by groves of well-established trees and plenty of bunkers and water hazards to keep golfers honest.
A small rainforest in the middle of the River Course is home to an abundance of goannas and bird life, generations of which have happily shared their lush riverside habitat with golfers.
Some of the trips between greens and tees are through gorgeous rainforest corridors.
What’s also helpful is each tee-box has large plaque indicating the length of the hole, index and a diagram of the hole. Tip: Study it carefully before reaching for a club.
The first hole on the River Course, so-named because of its proximity to the Tweed River, is an excellent par-5 that doglegs right.
Placement is the key as there is a huge fairway bunker left at driving distance and a lake on the right.
Water crosses the fairway in front of the green and opens into a lake to the right of the green.
Both courses are easy walking although there is a bit of a hike between the first green to the second tee and from the eight to the ninth on the River Course.
Still, it’s a scenic stroll beside the Tweed River with Fingal Headland opposite.
The yachts and houseboats have dropped anchor…and why not?
After all, who wouldn’t want to spend a lazy day or two overlooking a picturesque golf course?
The second hole is a short (293m) dogleg left with a bunker at driving distance and trees left and right lining the route.
“We have a number of dogleg holes and because the course isn’t back-breaking long (5946m for men and 5331m for women) strategy and course management is the key,” Ms James said.
“Taking an iron or hybrid off the tee is the smart play on many holes.
“It’s a thinking golfer’s course, but it’s also risk and reward.”
Both courses are especially inviting as they are devoid of housing – a much under-appreciated trait of member courses in general.
The undulating greens vary in size and shape, but most tend to be on the large size.
There’s the odd subtle break, but the greens roll pure so they aren’t that scary.
The payoff is a trio of holes – six, seven and eight.
The sixth is a par-5, tree-lined down both sides with a bunker at driving distance on the right. More bunkers guard the left side of the green and water on the right.
The 179m seventh is the longest par-3 on the course and is heavily bunkered in front and another trap back right.
The par-4 eighth is a dramatic dogleg right with two large bunkers at driving distance. A deep bunker guards the green on the right.
Another interesting trio of holes are 11, 12 and 13 – the signature hole.
Gary Player said the 314m 13th was one of his favourite holes in golf after winning the 1981 Reschs Open.
It’s a tight hole called “The Shoot” because the tee shot comes out of an alley of trees. From the back tee, it can be daunting … and claustrophobic.
The smart play is an iron off the tee. The green is perched on a rise with a steep embankment front, left and right.
Don’t be greedy, take a par and move on.
The par-5 18th leading to the impressive clubhouse has bunkers awaiting the second shot and around the green. Play smart and a par, and maybe a birdie, beckons.
The West Course is equally impressive.
It plays straighter, has its fair share of feature holes but a lot more water comes into play.
It, too, opens with a par-5 but it’s the 174m third hole that grabs your early attention.
It’s a picturesque hole with water left off the tee but it doesn’t come into play. The challenge is the diagonal green that has a large bunker left and right.
The 480m par-5 fourth is a great challenge. A large stretch of water on the right from about 200m out can be intimidating.
Still, the pick of the bunch is the par-5 18th heading back to the clubhouse.
It’s a picturesque hole and the elevated green is heavily bunkered and features the infamous Big Bertha trap – front and centre.
A round at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club is a fraction of the cost of many Gold Coast courses and is available all year round.
The savings made can be used to enjoy some of the other great facilities available at the club. There is a restaurant, bars and entertainment at the club seven-days-a-week.
When all the features of Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club are taken into account – two outstanding courses, reasonable price and unbeatable location – it is easy to see why it is regarded by many as one of the best-optioned courses in the region.
Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club
Soorley Street, Tweed Heads South 2486
Tel: (07) 5524-4544
Green fees: 18 holes $55. Nine holes $35 or mates rate $55pp – two players in a cart.
Twilight golf (after 1pm): $35 walking or $50 in a cart.
Reciprocal club members: $20 outside of competition only. $12 to play in club competition.
Public access: Seven days a week (Saturday after 1.30pm).
Open days: Wednesdays and Saturdays and need to be a member’s guest.
Professionals: Long-serving pro Russ Davis heads up the well-stocked pro shop and there are plenty of teaching pros to choose from including Rachel Hetherington, Randall Hollands-Smith, Ross Moodie, Matt Hancock and Julie Powell.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, these well-trained PGA professionals can help improve your game.
Lessons: From $50.
Club hire: $30.
Cart hire: $30.
Pull buggy hire: $5.
Shoe hire: No.
Practice facilities: Short range with short game area and a long driving range plus two putting greens.
Course length West Course: Blue 6018m; Red 5254m
Slope (West Course)
Men blue 129 – par 72, scr 72
Men white 128 – par 72, scr 71
Women red 128 – par 74, scr 74
Course length River Course: Blue 5946m; Red 5331m
Slope (River Course)
Men blue 120 – par 72, scr 72
Men white 119 – par 72, scr 71
Women red 127 – par 73, scr 73
Membership: The club has 1500 members and men and women pay the same annual fee – $1514 for the use of 36 holes.
Joining fee: No.
Functions: Choose from a range of well-appointed venues to suit small, intimate gatherings to lavish gala affairs. There are acres of picture perfect settings with river and golf course views. The clubhouse offers a number of different size rooms to fit perfectly with your gathering, wedding, party or corporate function.
Accommodation: Coolangatta & Tweed Heads GC and Mantra Twin Towns can arrange stay-and-play packages.
Airport: Coolangatta Airport is eight kilometres (10 minutes) from the golf club.