Part of the Rydges International Resort on Queensland’s beautiful tropical Capricorn Coast, the Karl Litten designed New course is a searching examination of your golf game and one of the more interesting resort courses in Queensland.
Unlike most of its contemporaries, the challenge here isn’t about keeping your ball dry, though there is the usual splattering of water, but rather combating the stands of tall trees that line fairways and mark the doglegs. With the exception of just two holes the par four’s and five’s all bend around natural lakes and lagoons and through the thick Melaleuca bush. Subtle undulation changes and tight tree lined corners often make the holes seem narrower and the preferred target harder to pin point from the tee. This visual deception not only makes the New course tough, but also quite interesting.
Beginning with three difficult long holes, the course then moves to the memorable fourth with a notorious diagonal bunker running for at least 150 metres across the hole some 240 metres from the tee. Drives will generally stay well short of the hazard leaving a long iron approach, slightly uphill, to a generous green.
The back nine is the highlight with a number of fine holes including the water carry par three 11th, and the funky par four 13th with its downhill approach shot played over palms trees and across a lagoon. The par five 15th is also unique with a lake and no less than fifteen fairway bunkers running the entire left hand side of the hole. To set up an eagle putt the brave golfer must flirt with the hazard from the tee and then carry sand and water on the approach. One of the most difficult is the 17th, which looks innocuous but is far from gentle on the unsuspecting golfer. A tight driving hole, the fairway bends around tall trees and a lake that runs down the left and guards the green. The natural tendency to play away from the corner has dire consequences here as further trees on the far side of the fairway impede the approach and force golfers to play a fade out over the water to bend the ball back onto the green.
For the not so brave the New course has bail out options but never all-inclusive relief and as a result course management is vital to low scoring. This is far from your typical ‘grip it and rip it’ resort course, with correctly judging the angles of fairways and trees pivotal to approach play. Local knowledge can be a huge advantage but is totally worthless if you are unable to execute the shots you know you need to make.
As prolific American designer Karl Litten’s only Australian course, Capricorn New is a fascinating break from the standard resort fare thrown up at countless other courses around Queensland, and for that sole reason well worth a look by serious and social golfers alike.