Lockley’s, SA, Australia
Kooyonga has held and continues to hold the fondest place in my heart. I have called Kooyonga my home club since 1999 when I joined as a 15-year-old junior member. Despite living primarily in the United States since 2004, I still consider Kooyonga my golfing home.
The course itself was laid out in 1923 by HC Rymill on a vast area of swamp and sand dunes. The club has managed to retain a number of these features throughout the course, in particular the sand dunes which come in to play on a number of holes. The swamp land is still noticeable in the area separating holes 9 and 10. The club has undergone many changes in the years I have been at the club; some good, some bad. The club is currently in the process of a significant long-term course restoration project under the guidance of life member and close family friend Neil Crafter. Over the years as different designers were given an opportunity to make changes, the course started to lack cohesion from one hole to the next. Neil and the team at Kooyonga are doing a fantastic job of restoring old features and bringing back a level of flow the course has lacked for some time.
The golf course is by no means long in today’s world, measuring 6,776 yards from the championship tees. Many of the holes are well bunkered, forcing the golfer to make a decision from the tee. Laying up short in the wider landing zones leaves a longer approach while attacking with the driver into the narrower playing corridors or challenging the bunkers by hitting beyond them shortens the approach considerably. For many, the par 5’s are reachable with a mid to long iron while the par 4’s will only require a wedge of some sort for the aggressive golfer off the tee.
My favorite design aspects are the greens and surrounds. The course has a total of 57 bunkers protecting the 18 greens, many are deep and unforgiving. The greens are typically perched up and pitch primarily from front to back, sloping away on all sides. The surrounding runoffs and bunkers constantly challenge the golfer with few straightforward shots, requiring a lot of imagination and touch. The green surfaces are firm, fast and undulating, putting a premium on speed control and line in order to hole putts. I have always taken pride in my short game, ability to get the ball up and down, and to make my fair share of putts. I attribute all these to growing up at Kooyonga and the variety presented to all areas of my game.
No other course has brought me more joy or good memories than Kooyonga. I hope with time I will find myself returning more often to enjoy the course more regularly.