New South Wales Golf Club

The Lakes Golf Club

Australia, NSW, Sydney
7.5 (106)

The Lakes 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.

Originally routed by Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin, the holes at The Lakes Golf Club had deteriorated to such a degree over several decades that a radical redesign program was the only way to breathe new life into this stored Sydney golf club. With invasive tree growth and a confusing mix of bunker styles hurting the feel and playability of the existing golf course, Michael Clayton was employed to help the club overcome it's very obvious design issues and rebuild the course back to its once lofty ranking. His work was completed in 2009.

Clayton's changes at The Lakes were quite wide reaching, the routing was largely preserved, essentially because it made good use of the natural lakes, but the character of the course was altered substantially. The non-indigenous trees and shrubs were removed, as was the couch and ryegrass fringes and the awful grass faced bunkers and ugly pot traps that dotted the landscape. In their place Clayton’s team scatted vast sandy wastelands across the site and added sprawling roughed-up bunker shapes, giving The Lakes a distinct linksy feel, much like the courses in this part of Sydney had 50 years ago. They also built outrageously contoured putting surfaces, some with multiple ridges, split tiers and nasty pinable wings or shelves.

There is no doubt that change was needed here, and equally that this is precisely the sort of layout the property demanded. That said, it’s unlikely that all members will fully appreciate the subtleties of the new course and some will clearly feel that Clayton went too far on the more extreme green sites. While there certainly are problem spots, the heaviest putting contours here are also among the most interesting. The 14th is a prime example, the famous water carry par five now ends at an enormous target that collapses violently down an incline toward the edge of the lake. This is a brutal green if 60-feet away from the pin, but visually the shapes fit with the surrounding landscape, and those who groan about three-putt pars will need to either hit better long irons or rethink their strategy on how best to play the hole.

The drivable par four 13th is even more sinister, its narrow, raised green is reminiscent of the 5th at Woodlands and built with a tight frontal entrance that kicks sloppy pitch shots down a sharp embankment. The other strategic short four of note here is the 6th, which bends around a well-shaped bunker complex that golfers can either attack or avoid depending on their skill level or bravery. Again the green is a wild concoction of slopes, the softer front portion much easier on the eye and working better from a strategic perspective than the nasty left ledge. Aside from a few other severe tiers and the all-carry wasteland across the 4th fairway, about the only area that stands out as uncomfortable here is the 11th green, chiefly because the raised edges on both its left and right sides are more obviously manufactured than others on the course.

Without question the biggest concern with The Lakes, however, remains its choice of fairway grass. Kikuyu is a poor surface for such an exposed and bumpy site, especially now that fringe and putting contours seem to encourage the creative, running approach. Missing greens at The Lakes would be a lot more challenging were bump and run shots viable alternatives to the aerial chip. Having shut the course down for extended periods while the holes were rebuilt, it seems unlikely that the fairway grass will change anytime soon and that’s a shame.


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