Sunshine Coast's top 5 golf courses
Any resemblance between the winter and early spring climates of New Zealand and the Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland, Australia, is purely coincidental.
While Kiwis are rugging up for the onslaught of the next biting southerly and enduring often single figure temperatures, Queenslanders are getting about in shorts and light shirts, swimming in the ocean and playing golf under invariably clear blue skies.
Which is why New Zealanders in their droves head for Oz during the months of June, July, August and September.
If you're a golfer, you can't do better than position yourself on the Sunshine Coast, which stretches from about 40km north of Brisbane Airport right through to the world famous beach resort of Noosa and the stunning Rainbow Beach.
In between there are some 20 golf courses, several ranking among the finest in Australia. You're spoilt for choice. To assist your planning, we feature here five of the best, all resort courses.
From June to September, you can expect to play in temperatures in the early 20s and, unless you're incredibly unlucky, you won't be needing your rain jacket or even a pullover.
Kiwis relate to the laidback lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast which is centred round pristine beaches, freshwater rivers and lakes, sub-tropical forests and gorgeous sunshine.
The Sunshine Coast is a hub for golf lovers. Beginners and professionals are all catered for.
The simplest way to access the Sunshine Coast is by the direct flight with Air New Zealand from Auckland to Maroochydore; alternatively, it's a gentle drive north from Brisbane Airport.
NOOSA SPRINGS GOLF & SPA RESORT
If you want to combine golf with sunbathing at one of Australia's iconic surf beaches and shopping, you can't do better than the Noosa Springs Golf Resort. It is situated just a hop, skip and jump from Noosa's famous Hastings Street, a mecca for tourists, and the famous beaches.
If you're a dedicated golfer, you can't do better than Noosa Springs' month-long package deal. For $3980, you get to stay in one of the resort's high-quality apartments and have unlimited access to the golf course for the entire month. How good is that!
The resort has undergone a significant change in the past 12 months having been bought from the original owners by the Dragon Lakes Resort Company from southern China. Dragon Lakes also purchased the Hope Island links and so there exists a special relationship between these two outstanding resorts.
Noosa Springs presents a championship course in a spectacular, sub-tropical setting, a course that is playable all year round. Architect Graham Papworth gave special attention to preserving and enhancing the natural environment. The undulating fairways are set amongst lush bush land which is home to an abundance of wildlife, making golf here a unique experience.
Papworth said the aim of Noosa Springs was to design a course that while not lacking in challenge was fun to play. He took full advantage of its picturesque setting and while there are heroic play options for those willing to take a risk, all players should enjoy a fair challenge.
The 6180m course features 69 bunkers and 10 freshwater lakes that have water involved on 12 of the 18 holes.
The course is complemented by a magnificent clubhouse featuring a world-class spa, great restaurants and leisure facilities, including fitness and tennis centres.
The resort is only 25km from The Sunshine Coast International Airport.
You can play 18 holes for $120, nine holes for $65.
PALMER COOLUM RESORT
The Clive Palmer influence is obvious the moment you approach the Palmer Coolum Resort, situated less than 20km from Noosa. The mining billionaire, Queensland's richest man, has undertaken a bold makeover since purchasing the property. T
he resort is now home to 160 dinosaurs and 85 antique and prestige vehicles. And he is planning to introduce a commercial replica of the Titanic.
The most obvious new feature is an 8.5m x 20m Tyrannosaurus Rex, called Jeff, who sits between the ninth green and the 10th tee and lets off a guttural roar.
An iconic resort, the Coolum Resort features 324 rooms situated in clusters throughout the bush. It is set at the base of Mt Coolum fronting 2km of pristine beach. The resort, with its abundance of restaurants, swimming pools, tennis courts, conference rooms and a gymnasium and spa is in popular demand as a wedding venue.
The par-72 course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and measures 6137m from the championship tees. It offers diverse and exciting challenges with contrasting landscapes from lakeside holes to manicured fairways that weave through native bush.
If you're a golf tragic, Palmer Coolum has an offer for you - an unlimited golf pass that for $2850 will allow you to play the course every day of the year if you want.
PELICAN WATERS GOLF RESORT & SPA
They know how to enjoy themselves at the Pelican Waters Golf Club, evidenced by the Pelican Waters Masters staged in April. Players journeyed interstate to participate in the one-day tournament that coincided with the third day's action at Augusta National.
The fun element Pelican Waters introduced cost participants $5. In return, they drew a Masters player whose three-round score was added to their own for a new four round total, the pool being shared among the first three place-getters. The winner of the Pelican Masters was appropriately presented with a green jacket at the social event that followed the tournament.
Situated at Caloundra, a town with a population of 100,000, Pelican Waters was the first Greg Norman designed course on the Sunshine Coast, Norman integrating the course with the existing landscape to produce challenging golf terrain. It is ranked No 1 on the Sunshine Coast and 55th among Australia's top 100 courses.
The spectacular 6289m championship course boasts one of the finest clubhouses and some of the best practice facilities in Australia.
One hour north of Brisbane, the course has water and sand on play on nearly every hole, the course winding through open waterways and links type land before finishing with spectacular holes aside towering Melaleuca trees.
Several of the holes at Pelican Waters are world class, and three of the final four holes are par-4s of more than 360m. There are two loops of nine holes, one heading north, the other south. There are only three instances where holes adjoin each other.
A new property development adjacent to the course is up and running, offering one to four bedroom luxurious apartments. These properties are four minutes walk from the clubhouse with views over the first fairway.
A round at Pelican Waters costs $95, cart included.
PEREGIAN SPRINGS GOLF CLUB
The first thing you should know about the Peregian Springs golf course is that it was designed by Adam Scott's father Phil. The whole Scott family is entrenched in golf. Because of injuries, Phil never played professionally but he was a member of the PGA of Australia, and Adam's mother Pam is also an accomplished golfer.
They kick-started young Adam's career in Adelaide (from where he won the Australian junior title) as a teenager before moving to the Sunshine Coast were Phil took up a position at Twin Waters.
It was in 2003 that Scott Snr designed the Peregian Springs course over 62 hectares, creating a flat, parklands style course for golfers with water features and intimidating bunkering. Eucalyptus trees and water abound as the course winds its way through native bush land. So lush is the bush glimpses of other golfers are rare when you play here. From narrow par-5s to short par-4s with sloping greens, the course places a premium on accuracy and shot-making.
With Peregian Springs now under the management of Troon Golf, a committee, headed by Phil Scott, is looking at altering and upgrading several of the holes. Already, the Troon Golf factory is obvious in the quality of the greens and fairways.
Peregian Springs is superbly located, only minutes from Noosa's Hastings Street. It is inland off the main highway that runs along the Sunshine Coast. The club has first-class practice facilities including a full-length driving range, chipping green, putting green and bunker.
The golf club, which welcomes visitors, is part of a large-scale residential estate at Peregian Springs. It has a stay-and-play arrangement with the Outrigger Hotel in Noosa.
TWIN WATERS GOLF CLUB
The course manager at Twin Waters is Steve Hutchison, who was previously at Gulf Harbour, north of Auckland. He speaks glowingly of the course that was designed by five times British Open champion Peter Thomson and his business partner Mike Wolveridge, and also of the club's location.
"Because of our closeness to Maroochydore Airport and the township of Noosa, we are the most popular of the resort options in the region and rank among the top six resort courses in Australia," he says. "And we offer a true championship course."
Twin Waters is famously the venue that annually stages the Australian final of the Holden Scramble, the biggest pro-am event in the southern hemisphere. The event has brought 30 teams of five to Twin Waters for the last 15 years and it will be all on again in November this year.
The Holden Scramble has become an iconic event in Australia with club combinations 'scrambling' to reach the regional finals and then, ultimately, the national fine on the Sunshine Coast.
The team chooses which shot from the tee they are going to play. The golfer whose shot is taken is eliminated from participating in the next shot. But all four players have the opportunity to sink the putt.
It's a handicap event, of course, and once teams graduate to the regional finals they can introduce their club pro into the team for the final round.
For the winning team, there's a Chinese component, the opportunity to play against a Chinese team home and away.
The Twin Waters course, a par 72, extends 5832m. Part of the delight of playing here is to observe the significant bird life and kangaroos, who occasionally intrude on the fairways.
The signature hole is the par-4 eighth (363m) which has water in play off the tee and a green design similar to the famous road hole at St Andrews.
It costs $77 to play a round at Twin Waters but the club offers a nine-hole afternoon special of $56, which includes green fee, club and cart hire.
A unique facility the club has installed is an aquatic driving range where reverse psychology applies. You stand on the practice tee and hit out into the water, designed to help golfers adjust to hitting the ball when faced with a body of water.
Twin Waters is recognised as one of the best golf/wedding venues in Australia.
SUNSHINE COAST FACT FILE
Links Dr, Noosa Heads. Tel: 0061 7 5440 3333.
par 72 (6180m).
Warren Rd, Yaroomba. Tel: 0061 7 1800 268 586.
Par 72 (6137m).
Mahogany Dr, Pelican Waters. Tel: 0061 7 5437 5000.
Par 72 (6289m).
Peregian Springs Dr, Peregian Beach. Tel: 0061 7 5471 5471.
Par 72 (6192m).
Ocean Dr, Twin Waters. Tel: 0061 7 5457 2444.
Par 72 (5832m).