Birdies are big on this golf course

The birdies are big on this golf course
By Tony Walsh

A new addition to the sights and sounds on the 36 hole golf course at Rydges Capricorn Resort on the Central Queensland Coast is a pair of brolgas that has taken up residence on the fairways and greens. But the resident Golf Pro, David Roche is unfazed by the new addition to the animal kingdom.

“They are a beautiful, large bird and add another dimension to the extensive wildlife species that already call the resort courses home,” David said as he looked at the pair of brolgas walking casually across the 17th green.

The brolgas are commonly called the ‘Dancing Cranes’ because they dance and prance to each other; somewhat like a frustrated golfer after goofing a putt for a birdie.

David has also been witness to a pair of boxing kangaroos on the ninth fairway of the Old Course and often sees dingoes wandering along the edge of the fairways. There are huge sand goannas that scamper up the trunk of the nearest tree at the approach of a wayward golfer and majestic sea eagles that soar over the entire 8,903 hectare resort that has an absolute beach frontage of 20 kilometres to the South Pacific Ocean.

But while the wildlife is always interesting, it’s the actual playing on the two courses that brings both occasional and serious golfers back to multi-faceted resort..

Because the courses are built on pure sandbelt, David says the 36 hole layout allows golfers to experience two very beautiful, yet challenging courses. Planned and constructed to international standard, David says they effectively cater for a wide range of golfing play as he found out to his peril during a pro-am tournament a few years ago.

“I had come down from the course in Cairns where I was working at the time and was going quite well until the par 3 on the fifth hole of the Old Course. I hit a 3 wood which I thought would drift back on the wind. It didn’t, and the ball hit a set of stairs near the green and flew out of bounds!”

David gave a laugh and added self-effacing, “I haven’t been able to play that hole since.”

That’s hard to believe when you see David out on the fairway driving the ball further than some people in Australia go for their annual holidays.

He is always ready to take first-time guests for personal instruction on a few holes and the pro-shop has a five-page list of course tips as part of their customer service. Some of these tips include: Hole16 on the Old Course – Good chance for a birdie. A straight drive into the hollow off the tee, but be careful of a creek on the right to catch the slicers. Another wood or long iron just right of centre will open up the green. If you are left, pitch on the right half of the green or you may enter a deep bunker at the back. A difficult up and down for par from there.

For want of more appropriate names, when the second course was built at the resort in 1992, staff and guests got into the habit of calling them the Old Course and the New Course.

David explains their peculiarities. “The Old Course is a testing but fair course. It has wide forgiving fairways and there is no over abundance of water. With 44 sand bunkers, the course cuts through Australian melaleuca bushland using the natural undulation of the area to advantage.”

As David found out during the pro-am, one of the most challenging holes is the par 3 fifth, 202 metres off the blue tees.

David says the New Course, designed by Karl Litten of America, is “tight”.

“The first nine is played through Melaleuca bushland with plenty of nature walks for the wayward shots. The back nine is watery, built over, around and along all shapes and sizes of water hazards. The par 3 on the 11th and 14th need hearty nerves and exacting irons.”

“Enjoy the challenge,” David adds.

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