Built on the fringes of Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the Terrey Hills Golf & Country Club, which opened in 1994, was the first golf course to be built in the city for more than two decades. The success of the course as a professional tournament venue during the 1990’s led to a number of new developments around Sydney’s outskirts, yet Terrey Hills remains the best example of modern design in a city where the game is dominated by its celebrated classics.
What sets this course apart from its contemporaries is the wonderfully isolated site with holes beautifully sculptured from the surrounding forest and meandering through the bush landscape and around a series of integrated water hazards. The front nine has the more interesting landscape although the best holes are probably found on the more open and spread out back nine. Starting the run home is the tough 10th, which bends gently around a lake with a distinctive rolling fairway full of humps and hollows running all the way to the green.
Another fine hole is the long 17th played from the far corner of the property and alongside Duffy’s Forest. A slight kink in the fairway tightens the landing area for the long hitters while the fairway traps, which actually mark the ideal driving line, tend to force many left into the thick rough. The target here is narrow and the approach fraught with danger as the shot must flirt with a precarious pond that eats into the right side of the green.
Of the front nine holes the downhill 3rd is a terrific mid-length par four played from within bush and through rows of trees which clear at the landing area. The hole then falls away to set up a thrilling second shot over the edge of a lake to a slender green surrounded by extreme undulation.
In truth there are actually very few standout moments at Terrey Hills and instead a solid collection of eighteen high quality golf holes set within an attractive and tranquil locale. The course is similar in style to others by this design team especially the symmetrical mounding built along the sides of the rolling ‘mogul’ fairways, although the national park setting clearly distinguishes it from other Marsh/Watson designs.
An excellent championship layout Terrey Hills probably works even better as a course where the average player can enjoy a challenging round of golf yet still manage to post a decent score. The playing surfaces are always fabulous with fairway widths kept generous for the weak hitter but narrowing significantly where the professionals drive. The large greens are also superb and similarly playable to golfers of any ability. Often narrow at the front, they come complete with tiers, swales and plenty of interesting breaking putts.
Unlike many modern courses, which attempt to tame the best by torturing the rest, Terrey Hills is a challenge that golfers of all standards are sure to enjoy.