The most famous golf course on the NSW South Coast
Narooma is one of the best courses on the South Coast of NSW. It’s golf course ranking in Australian Digest Top 100 courses is currently at No. 82, the highest of any South Coast course. It is a rich journey of risk and reward golf around spectacular sea cliffs and through a beautiful and serene coastal forest. It was made famous by Australian TV comedian and actor, Paul Hogan who did a cigarette commercial at the famous par 3 3rd Hole in the 1970’s . The hole is now nicknamed “Hogan’s Hole” and is probably the most exciting par 3 in Australian golf. However there is a little bit more to the history of Narooma golf course than the visit of an Australian TV star.
A Storied History
Like a number of South Coast courses , Narooma has an ebb and flow history leading to it’s current grandeur. Originally the land now occupied by the golf course was common land. It was land for the recreation and fishing of the town”s people. It is still owned by the local council. It was also a bush grave site with two of the graves now situated near the 5th green, belonging to 10 month old Elsie Ross who died of whooping cough in 1890 and John Flintoff who died in 1892. The third grave was only added in the 1960’s and is Mrs Nell Murphy who may have been a relative of a club member who was working around the grave site at the time. Her burial there caused consternation amongst the locals at the time because she wasn’t one!
However in 1930, a golf course was built for the town. It was a short, 9 hole course with sand greens. In 1967, things changed and NZ golf architect Sloan Morpeth was commissioned to rebuild the links nine. He lengthened the course, created new green sites and positioned some of the most spectucular tee boxes in Australian golf, including the 3rd hole. The course was extended to 18 holes when the club acquired new land in 1978 in the nearby forest and brought in John Spencer, the former greens superintendent at Huntingdale , turned course designer with Jack Newton, to design the back nine. This was completed in 1980.
The clubhouse also served as a community hub during the 2020-21 bushfires as people took refuge there from the firestorm that was claiming lives and houses.
A journey through links and forests
The name “links” derived from Scotland meaning the stretch of land that links the township and the sea. St Andrews is like that and most of the front nine at Narooma is like that as well. You start of with a downhill par 4 with the town and OB on the left to a perched and tiered green . The next two holes are where the photos and the breath is taken . The 2nd is a uphill par 4 around a cove to a green perched precariously on a headland. The 137m par 3 3rd, shooting from headland to headland across a gulch with a sea cave yawning under the green, ready to take your ball. Spectacular. It can be a short iron one day and into a driving southerly the next, a driver. The rest of the front nine has some memorable tee box views and follows up and down the open hillside. The greens are well bunkered and with the wind blowing, demand control over your trajectory. However the course is not designed to make you look silly, it is fun to play.
The back nine is often overlooked and is a beautiful routing through forests and around ponds and estuaries. There are many fine risk and reward tee shots where if you take on and make the “Tiger Line” , a good score can be made. Mess it up and you are reloading. Probably a favourite here is the par 15th, with water lurking all the way down the left , you have a variety of tee lines to choose depending on how game you feel. The last two holes come onto the the links again with the 18th a dogleg par 5 around coastal bushland. It baits longer hitters to try their luck and knock it over the trees to a bunkered green for two with the sea cliffs behind ( decide wisely, I have lost out twice trying it).
The fairways at Narooma are kikuyu and the greens are bent and are kept in superb condition throughout the year. The course is so popular that it does over 50,000 rounds a year and it is enjoyable to play year round. Whenever we talk to clients who want to do a Capital Bucketlist trip with us to the South Coast, it is the first course they mention. You can stay with us either in Narooma, just off course or you can be based less than an hour away at Bateman’s Bay. Narooma is indigenous for clear, blue waters. Isn’t it time to dip your toes in!
If you would like to read about some of the other attractions of the area around the golf course read Kim Ulrick’s blog “Reds, Whites and Greens”
References: Eurobodalla Historic Cemeteries Conservation Management Study Vol 3