Gold Coast a golfers paradise – 24 golf courses in city
JACK Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman not only have their golf reputations in common - all have designed signature golf course layouts on the Gold Coast.
South East Queensland, and the Gold Coast in particular, feature the greatest collection of resort courses in Australia - all within 45 minutes of Surfers Paradise.
It has become a mecca for golfers and it is not uncommon to see professionals like of Adam Scott or Peter Senior strolling the fairway alongside regular golfers.
In addition to the 23 registered golf clubs, there are a multitude of driving ranges and coaching academies catering for the needs of beginners, serious players and professionals alike.
Courses range from quant nine-hole layouts to established member clubs and opulent private resorts.
There is even a course at a private home for the exclusive use of its wealthy Japanese owner.
Unlike many other parts of the world, you don't have to be super rich or well connected to enjoy a round of golf on a regular basis.
Most clubs offer specials on a casual basis or annual memberships if you are willing to shop around - even those who profess to be exclusive.
Some players prefer the benefits of private membership but others, who are only interested in playing the occasional casual round, have a multitude of choices with 9-holes costing as little as $12 at Tallai or 18-holes $25 at Surfers Paradise and Helensvale Golf Clubs.
Fees vary depending on the general condition, location or profile of each club, but as a rule, weekend rates are higher than mid-week.
There can be significantly discounts for afternoon play.
Golf tourism has become big business and nowhere more so than on the Gold Coast where overseas and interstate visitors can pick from a vast range of different types of lay-outs - all within a short distance of each other.
There is the additional benefit that the Coast has a multitude of other attractions for the rest of the family who may not want to play golf.
From the theme parks to ballooning over the Hinterland, whale watching and surfing along a 70km strip of pristine beaches.
Considered by many to be the jewel in the crown is the Peter Thomson designed Links at Hope Island.
The five-time British Open winner, and first Australian to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, designed the par 72, 6534m layout around natural and man made hazards.
A feature is the 128 pot style bunkers, which require careful navigation and, like all links style courses, the wind is your enemy.
Many a good score has been ruined with the clubhouse in sight.
The signature Par 3 17th hole measures 230m off the black tees and most players cannot reach the green due to the prevailing head wind.
Facilities include a unique water based driving range and GPS carts.
Across the road at Sanctuary Cove there is an entire resort village including restaurants, shops, a marina, hotel complex and two 18-hole golf courses - The Pines and the Palms.
Arnold Palmer designed The Pines, long considered one of Australia's toughest courses and is reserved for members only.
It has the feel of Augusta National, the home of the US Masters, with its tree-lined fairways carved out of an established pine forest.
There is a corridor approach to several of the holes while lakes guard the others. Wildlife is abundant on the course including rare birds and native kangaroos.
Greg Norman designed The Grand and The Glades with the latter arguably his best work.
The picturesque par 72, 6431m-championship course, is nestled in a creek-side valley between Robina and historic Mudgeeraba.
It is typical of his trademark aggressive layouts offering golfers a challenging round of golf in visually stunning surrounds.
A feature of the course is the trademark Greg Norman bunkering - 98 in total.
The designed allowed for the retention of nine hectares of wetland as a natural wildlife sanctuary within the course.
Lakelands reveals the experience, knowledge and excellence of the world's finest ever golfer Jack Nicklaus.
The 18-time Major winner has designed more than 150 golf courses on five continents, which consistently rank among the best in the world hosting over 200 professional tournaments.
While Lakelands is relatively flat, each hole provides several tee options with club selection from the tee and approach to the green crucial.
The course is brought to life by thought-provoking designs, use of native vegetation, water hazards and extensive bunkering.
The layout is picturesque and provides a decent challenge but not one where you will feel totally drained and demoralized afterwards.
Founded in 1924, Southport Golf Club has been recognised as the Gold Coast's premier private member's club for many years.
Its status is reflected in the hosting of both state and national championships including the annual Gold Coast Open, Queensland Amateur Matchplay Championships and Queensland Amateur Men's and Women's Championship.
The course is relatively short at 5816m but, with tight fairways and tricky greens, provides a significant challenge for golfers of all standards.
Even former world number one, Adam Scott, only manage a par round during a recent visit.
The secret for big hitters is to leave their driver in the car.
Southport boasts one of the most successful and vibrant junior programs, which includes coaching and playing opportunities for a range of age groups - a number who have gone on to represent Queensland.
It is not uncommon to see as many as 40 preschoolers on the chipping area learning the intricacies of the game while dozens more are out on course playing in a regular competition.
By creating a strong junior player base the club has guaranteed its own future.
The Gold Coast's newest golf course redesign is at Royal Pines where RACV has invested millions into turning it into a truly challenging championship layout.
The 2-year revamp by West Australian Graham Marsh, one of Australia's most prolific and internationally respected golf course architects is expected to be completed during the latter part of the year.
Royal Pines has long been home to the Australian Ladies Masters and has hosted the Australian PGA Championships for the last two years and will again do so this year.
The golf course is the showpiece of the sprawling residential resort, towered over by a 331-room hotel.
Royal Pines boasts the Gold Coast's only 27-hole composite course and like many others in the area, water is a feature.
What was essentially a flat course with wide fairways, has been turned into an undulating links-style layout with challenging rough and difficult greens on multiple levels.
The water has been brought in to play and placement of the ball is crucial to avoid trouble.
The course has introduced five different tee boxes to cater for all level of players from touring professionals to novices.
With an active golf academy headed by Australian PGA chairman Mark Gibson, there are coaching programs to cater for everyone.
The club also boasts an excellent practice area.
And if the game of golf is not difficult enough, those seeking an additional challenge can play Emerald Lakes after dark.
With floodlights towering over the back nine holes, players are offered a unique opportunity to play in the cool of night during summer months.