The Lake Karrinyup Golf Club is a private members club. Visitors from Interstate or Overseas are welcome during certain periods of the week. Such visitors will need to be members of a recognised golf club, with a current membership identification card or a letter of introduction from the home club. Contact Planet Golf for assistance with tee times.
As the only mainland state Dr MacKenzie did not visit during his whirlwind 1926 tour, Western Australia retains a connection with this golden period of design thanks to the work of his understudy and design partner, Alex Russell at Lake Karrinyup.
Russell arrived in Perth during 1928 fresh from designing Yarra Yarra and prior to heading back to Melbourne to build his magnum opus, the East course at Royal Melbourne. Delighted with the quality of the Lake Karrinyup land at his disposal, Russell informed the club that given the natural undulations and attractive surroundings the course ‘should compare favourably with any in Australia.’
During the design stage Russell made it clear that where possible blind shots into greens would be avoided and although the course would be setup to challenge the scratch man, he hoped that for shorter hitters who could keep the ball straight it would not be overly taxing. Due to the severity of the undulations however achieving this playability proved difficult with the designer conceding shortly after construction that his course was perhaps a little tough. The main problem was that by restricting unsighted approach shots his routing included a number of uphill drives, mostly bending left and favouring those with a strong draw. For weaker players often unable to reach the crest of fairways, the side hill lies and partially concealed approach shots can be particularly nasty.
Peter Thomson and Michael Wolveridge, who acted as course consultants from the early 1970’s to 2000's, strengthened the layout by adding more than twenty greenside and fairway bunkers and building nine new championship tees. To keep pace with the modern professional game they also pushed the 1st and 7th greens back by 50 metres, in the process taking away the option to attack the driveable first hole for most players. This opening tee shot once set the tone for the entire round with the hole tempting enough to entice golfers to have a crack but with serious repercussions for those not properly limbered up. Michael Clayton's team completed a significant restoration project in 2008 which returned options to this opening hole and also the tired green and bunker shapes to the rugged, naturalistic form that Alex Russell had originally wanted. Clayton also realigned some fairways and green entrances to reduce the number of hook favoured holes.
The second is where the course starts to grab your attention. The long hole rises from the tee before falling sharply at its dogleg with a frightening blind downhill approach from a hanging lie for those who fail to reach the fairway peak. The most difficult holes on the course are those similarly built over the elevations with narrow landing areas, while the most interesting are short, sloping par fours like the 1st and multi-option 14th, a beautifully bunkered hole offering the sort of risk/reward gambles missing elsewhere on the course. The front nine par threes are also quite good, as is the 200-metre 17th and the falling par five 7th.
As the only course in Western Australia to have hosted a national Open, Lake Karrinyup has enjoyed decades of recognition as the region’s golfing jewel. A string of well regarded modern tracks has brought renewed competition to Perth, and threatened this existing order of ascendancy. Although no longer the state's undisputed top track, Karrinyup is very good and does still remain the West’s best classic.
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