Go West, Young Man: Wentworth Falls Country Club
NEW SOUTH WALES -- Picture, if you will, a superb course set within a magnificent bush land environment with tree lined fairways. Then, imagine a world of entertainment for the whole family, only minutes away. And all of this against a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking scenery Australia has to offer.
This is the Wentworth Falls Country Club, situated in the heart of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.
More about the golf in a moment. Most people regard a trip to the Blue Mountains as a "must do" when they're visiting Sydney. This spectacular World Heritage region is only about an hour and a half west of Sydney. On the way there, visitors can incorporate a visit to the Sydney Olympic site.
Why are they called the Blue Mountains? The area is densely populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapor, scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue in color. This gives the area a distinctive blue haze, hence the name.
The Blue Mountains is never short of things to see and do. Whether you are a local resident or an international visitor, the Blue Mountains has something for everyone. Some of the main attractions include:
- The Sceniscender, which is the steepest aerial cable car in Australia, and takes you on a 545 meter ride into the World Heritage Listed rainforest of the Jamison valley.
- The Scenic Railway, which is the world's steepest incline railway.
- The Scenic Skyway, which is Australia's only horizontal passenger carrying cable car, offering superb views of the Three Sisters (no, gentlemen, it's a mountain range!!), Katoomba Falls, Mt Solitary and Orphan Rock.
If you can tear yourself away from the plethora of activities in the area, perhaps you'll find time for a bit of golf.
The course was designed in 1913 by Dan Soutar, who was a foundation member of the Australian PGA. He was also the designer of Kingston Heath in Melbourne, which hosts the Australian Open. Soutar was responsible for the front nine, with the back nine being designed and built in the mid 1940's.
The present layout is such that major changes appear unlikely and the course continues to prove right the opinion given almost 90 years ago by Soutar, whose report in that original prospectus contained the following sentence: "Altogether I think this would make a very good course."
The facilities here at the club are first rate with: a 190-metre long practice fairway, with a large level teeing ground, an adjoining 80 meter practice area with a practice green and bunker for honing your short game, two driving nets for a quick warm up and a large gently sloping practice green to give you a taste of what lies ahead.
It's an easy walking par 70 course, with only a couple of uphill holes to give your heart an extra pump. The main features are the picturesque fairways lined with a mixture of native and European flora. But be warned: the course will make you play all the shots with every club in your bag and if you don't, the results can be punishing.
"Each hole has it's own definition and separate identity," says Jeff Mansfield, who is the club pro. "And, of course, the large trees bordering the fairways give you a feeling of seclusion."
The hole that leaves the most lasting impression is the 17th, which is a double dogleg par 5. There is water on the left as you drive, and then you hit into a narrow opening for your second shot. If you are in the right position, you can hit the green, but most players tend to play their second shot down between the bunker and the trees. Then, you pitch onto a fairly narrow green. Sounds easy, doesn't it?
The greens are very firm and quick. There are three or four which bank quite significantly from the back to the front, so if you get above the hole, you can have some very testing putts. For example, the 18th is a straight uphill par 4. Only a short hole, but beware, as the green slopes downhill, a testing chip or putt from above the hole on a quick green could see adulation turn to frustration.
But the surfaces are excellent, and if you're a good putter, you'll do quite well. However, if quick greens are not your strength, you'll find these challenging.
Every Easter, the club holds a 36 hole Pro Am tournament, which attracts a very impressive field of well known professionals.
One of the most impressive features of the course is the luxurious self contained accommodations overlooking the 11th green. Guests can stay in beautifully furnished cottages with modern amenities, including a full size tennis court.
The club has an ongoing commitment to upgrading and improving their facilities. As we walked past the new conference room, the painter was hard at work, adding the finishing touches. "And that's not just any painter," said Jeff with a wry smile. "Let's go inside and I'll introduce you."
As it turns out, the "painter' was none other than Mike Budden, Marketing Director and board member of the Club. "We have a very hands-on approach to the way we run this club," said Mike. "It's all part of providing the best for our members and visitors."
" We believe that we have the best course in the Mountains," continued Mike enthusiastically." However, the extra services are an area in which this region has previously failed to live up to expectations.
"We can now provide world-class accommodation right on the course, together with packages with some of the best places to stay in the district. And, together with our initiatives here at Wentworth Falls, we can provide first-class facilities for the needs of tourists and business travelers alike," Mike said.
After briefly talking with Mike, we left him to finish his work. As we were leaving, Jeff turned to Mike and said "And, mate, you've got a bit of paint on your chin."
NSW 2782 Australia
Telephone: 61 2 4757 1202
Fax: 61 2 4757 3766
Where to stay
The Club has golf package arrangements with a number of accommodation houses, some of which are:
Medlow Bath, NSW, 2780
Phone: (02) 4688 1131
Alpine Motor Inn
Katoomba, NSW, 2780
Phone: (02) 4782 2011
Blackheath, NSW, 2785
Phone: (02) 4787 8108
Wentworth Falls, NSW, 2782
Phone: (02) 4757 2182
Wentworth Falls, NSW, 2782
Phone: 0415 858 838
Where to eat
With superb views overlooking the course, the club's Fairways Restaurant offers a range of Australian and international cuisine.
The township of Wentworth Falls and surrounding towns offer a variety of dining to suit every taste and budget.
September 26, 2002