It's easy to disparage Royal Sydney, which opened in 1893. No architect is credited with the design, the first hole is a 265-yard par four--easily driveable for the pros during the 1988 and 1994 Australian Opens--and the par fives on two and thirteen are both readily reachable. Sure, Royal Sydney is tractable--if you can keep your tee shots out of the ubiquitous eucalyptus, and if you don't lose too many shots on the steep slopes surrounding its deadly quick greens. Back-to-back card breakers await on the magnificently cross-bunkered par-four fourth (414 yards) and fifth (403). At one time there were rumored to be more than three hundred bunkers on the course; it's now down to ninety-eight, but six alone guard the left on the 187-yard fourteenth. Peter Thomson overhauled all the greens in the mid-eighties, doing his best work on the British-style bunkers surrounding the eighteenth. If you're allowed into the clubhouse, take in the snooker room, the rose-shaped showerheads and dark wood paneling in the locker rooms and the excellent view of the first and eighteenth holes from the grill.
Par & Yardage:72, 6,641
How To Get A Tee Time: With more than five thousand golfing and social members, this club gets quite busy, yet it is known for its hospitality. Although it's very difficult to get a tee time, the club asks that arrangements be made about a month ahead of time. An introductory letter and handicap card are strongly advised.
Contact: General Manager Bill Francis
Greens Fee: $75
Location: :In posh Rose Bay, fifteen minutes east of downtown Sydney
A 1996 Thomson remodeling turned this friendly, low-key facility into an exhilarating links course. The 346-yard par-four third is a blind dogleg left through the dunes that invites longer hitters to drive the green. If they miss it, they end up playing from gorselike bushes, deep pot bunkers or severe sidehill lies. From there the course snakes up Long Reef headlands and offers great views of Narrabeen Beach to the north and Dee Why Beach to the south. Thomson did a great job defining holes with dunes and swales to bring out their true character, but the property doesn't really allow enough space for the side-by-side routing of the 432-yard dogleg-right fourth and the 387-yard dogleg-left fifth. A huge wetlands guards the left side of the fifth, so players tend to bail out right--into the fourth fairway. On holes along the headlands, large landing areas compensate for strong winds and severely sloped greens.
Par & Yardage:71, 6,565
How To Get A Tee Time: Though Long Reef is considered public, it has a large and active membership, so it's best to call or fax ahead of time. Weekdays are best because weekends usually get booked solid.
Contact: Head Pro Gary Churcher
Greens Fees: $15.50 to $19.00
Location: :About twenty-five minutes north of downtown Sydney in the suburb of Collaroy
Nearby Courses: About fifteen minutes northwest on Powderworks Road is the private Monash Country Club. The 6,667-yard par-seventy-two course winds through groves of eucalyptus and pine, a nice contrast to the Long Reef links. About ten minutes north of Long Reef is Mona Vale Golf Club, a 6,664-yard par-seventy-two course next to the ocean, with the best views on the sixteenth.
Australian golf legend Graham Marsh designed this course (which was completed in 1994) with the intention of drawing a professional tournament. The huge greens feature prodigious slopes and are guarded with deep, menacing bunkers. The pervasive eucalyptus groves seem to contain ball magnets. In all, it's a course that can exasperate higher handicap players. Terrey Hills offers no let-up holes. The best is the 429-yard seventh: A good tee shot sets up a downhill approach to an undulating green bunkered on the right by deep traps that require Sharklike talent for an up-and-down par.
Par & Yardage:72, 7,060
How To Get A Tee Time: As part of a high-end real estate development, Terrey Hills markets itself as a very exclusive private club. Visitors should call or fax about a month ahead of time.
Contact: General Manager Ian Trevena
Greens Fees: $53 to$68
Location: :About thirty minutes north of downtown Sydney