The Cut : The Cut - Summer 2017
until 1946, and by all accounts barely recognisable when they were done with it. In 1951, local legend Eric Apperly, a formidable playing force in NSW for more than 20 years, was called back to work his magic again after first steering the plough there in 1937. Other designers would follow, most recently Greg Norman, whose role was to renovate greens and add some tougher tees to offset the advances in ball and driver technology. But many club historians credit Apperly’s ability to reinterpret and modify MacKenzie’s design strategies as critical to today’s celebrated NSW layout. Of course, the club’s illustrious history counts for squat when your knees are knocking on the first tee. For our first chance to tread in such esteemed footprints, we’re paired with a rookie NSW member who, as casually as you like, informs us he happily languished on a 10-year waiting list before gaining entry. After a series of interviews to vet his suitability, when the green light finally came on he couldn’t write out the A$20,000 entrance fee cheque fast enough. For the opening two holes it’s not clear why would-be members are queuing up to get in. But by the 3rd, a 342m (off the mid-range blue tees) par-4 with the toughest blind tee shot of your life into a stiff wind, it’s immediately obvious why MacKenzie and all the designers since are put on pedestals. NSW has dispensed with the niceties and we’re down to a bare-knuckle fight for survival. Still punch-drunk from the punishing dogleg 3rd, the 4th passes in a blur, but we quickly come to our senses on the 445m par-5 5th. The sweeping ocean-vista reveal as you top the rise onto the plateau 230m from the tee, and take the gentle slope to the green, has to be one of best walks in all of golf; it’s certainly one of the most photographed. The beauty continues on the equally revered cross-ocean par-3 154m 6th. First-timers are implored to take the short walk over the small bridge to the championship tees on the island tee box to confront the most gorgeous – and terrifying – 185m from tee to green imaginable. The course notes say you can see the S.S. Minmi shipwreck from here, too, but this writer was so transfixed (read: sweating bullets) by the watery grave ahead that spotting rusted nautical artefacts took a back seat to safely traversing Cape Banks. We head inland from here but there’s no letting up. Just pray for a southerly up the treacherously narrow and steep 365m par-4 7th, or only the biggest hitters have a hope of making it in two. You get a slight respite at the wide 495m par-5 8th and the downhill 334m par-4 9th. The return nine opens relatively benignly, too. But the teeth come out again on the 292m par-4 14th. Even from the mid-range blues, the average hitter will need to flush a tee shot to carry the ravine, but cut too much off this dogleg and the ball will bound into trouble along a rollercoaster fairway. Get it right and there’s only a short iron in, but the slick, bent-grass green is tiny and delicately poised at the top of a cliff. A par here is what you need to boost your confidence for the 15th, a 364m par-4 and number-one stroke hole. All but the longest – and straightest – power hitters should forget about finding this one in regulation.
The Cut - Spring 2016
The Cut - Autumn 2017