Note: The Paradise Palms golf course will be closing permanently on March 31, 2019.
Tropical North Queensland is the world’s leading reef and rainforest destination, where two pristine World Heritage wonders meet along a tropical coastline. Sculpted by Mother Nature and marketed by man, the region is also rapidly developing into a quality golf destination offering a series of modern resort style courses built to accommodate an increasing number of golf starved tourists. With travelling golfers now seeking a holiday that offers distractions away from the course, the rich bounties of North Queensland and the Barrier Reef are an obvious attraction.
In golfing terms Paradise Palms is the region’s heavyweight. Tough and uncompromising the course was built on a former cane plantation wedged between World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The beautiful mountains of the Dividing Ranges provide a stunning backdrop to most holes with fairways lined by dense stands of native Eucalypts and lush tropical rainforest. Also waiting to confiscate stray balls are the six main lakes and a number of meandering creeks, many dissecting fairways, that come into play on at least ten holes.
The brief to designers Marsh and Watson was to create Australia's most difficult tournament venue with the test starting at the long double dogleg first hole. Any thoughts of a gentle opener are quickly brushed aside with the hole bordered by a thick copse, split by a creek and especially tough on those not fully warmed up. The par three 7th hole is the most spectacular on the front nine with panoramic views of the Dividing Ranges and the Reef’s Clifton Beach from the elevated ‘Taipan’ tees. Slicers beware, anything slightly right here is certain to get wet, as the tee shot must clear a slender stream that feeds a small pond to the right of a narrow green.
On the back nine the largest lake on the course dominates the daunting 10th hole, which initially heads uphill and measures in excess of 540 metres from the very back. Water runs down the right side of the hole with the second shot, played blind over a rise, needing to be precise as the fairway slopes toward the hidden water hazard. Closing the round is the adjacent par five 18th, which features 180-degree views of the distant mountain ranges and a huge green typical of the putting surfaces found throughout the course.
Covering a total of 10,000 square metres, most greens are long and narrow and play tighter than their size would suggest. The steep slopes can make recovery tough with little green area to use and plenty of bumps and hollows to affect the chip shot. Playing surfaces are generally good although serious golfers are well advised to visit during the cooler months to see this course in its best shape as oppressive summer humidity can affect turf quality.