|Red (Long Course)||74||5747 m||76|
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The Royal Queensland Golf Club was founded in 1920 by a group of prominent citizens of Brisbane who obtained a lease of land occupying 420 acres (in today’s terms 170 hectares) – since reduced to around 240 acres (97 hectares) – fronting the Brisbane River in an area known as Parker Island.
The original course was designed by Carnegie Clark, the Australian Open Champion of the day, and was opened by the Governor-General Lord Forster in 1921. It is said that he had a handicap of +3.
The services of the eminent Scottish golf architect Dr Alister MacKenzie were later retained during his visit to Australia in 1926. The following extracts from the report which he prepared during that visit give some indication of the nature of Royal Queensland:
“The ground is excellently adapted for the construction of a golf course which might even compare favourably with some of the British Championship courses. The part of the ground for which the main course has been chosen is full of very fine golfing features. Although the ground at first sight appears flat, yet it is full of minor undulations of a somewhat similar character to famous seaside courses like St Andrew’s. In conclusion, I must say that the course at Hamilton should have a very great future, and not only be an excellent test of golf, but extremely popular to all classes of players.”
His major focus was greens and bunkers, with the short 8th hole (pre 2007) providing an excellent example of his work and design philosophy.
Royal Queensland has hosted three Australian Open Championships and four Australian Amateur Championships, as well as a multitude of other significant professional and amateur events.
Construction of the new Championship Course was completed in December 2007 and it is currently rated the 30th best course in Australia. The new Royal Queensland layout was designed by Michael Clayton, following the State Government’s decision in 2005 to build a second Gateway Bridge over the famous course. Michael Clayton describes the new layout and the philosophy of the design as follows:
“Royal Queensland is a course that was designed to place an emphasis on strategic golf. The width and space afforded the golfers from the tee gives them every opportunity to decide for themselves where best to play.
There are very few shots on the course where the architecture dictates where the golfer must play. At most of the two and three shot holes the test from the tee is of accurate driving to position as opposed to simple straight hitting.
The majority of the greens are arranged so the player is presented with a preferred line of play into the flag and those playing from the non-preferred side are likely to face a quite different shot and one that is more difficult.
The most highly rated courses in the world are based on strategy and providing choices for golfers, rather than dictating that there is only one way to play a hole. The Old Course at St Andrews is still perhaps the best course in the game. Certainly it is the most interesting and consequently the most fun to play. No shot there is dictated to the player and there are multitudes of options for all players, no matter their handicap, to consider.
Whilst Royal Queensland looks nothing like the Old Course at St Andrews, there are similarities in how they play and the questions they ask. Neither course employs long grass as a penal hazard, the fairways are wide, and offer a variety of lines from the tee. Bunkers are used as centre-line hazards rather than simply putting them down the sides of the fairways and asking players to hit between them.
There are difficult bunker shots at Royal Queensland, especially around the greens, and the bunkers are a significant part of the defence of the golf course. Not always will the player be afforded a perfect lie or a perfectly ‘fair’ shot. Some think that unreasonable, but bunkers are hazards that ought to deliver somewhat random forms of punishment. The odd difficult shot gives the better player an opportunity to show off skills others have not developed. They also give those who have not developed those skills a chance to add another dimension to their game.
Alister MacKenzie the great Scottish architect and a lover of The Old Course at St. Andrews had visited the original course at Royal Queensland and he was a designer who spoke of, and built, courses that stimulated players to improve their game. He railed against the use of long grass as a hazard and one only has to play his courses to see how much emphasis he placed on asking the player how best to play the hole. He also spoke of players growing bored with the game without really understanding why. It was, he said, because the courses they played were not real courses at all and they lacked any semblance of strategy.
Royal Queensland is not a course where players will grow bored. The best lines to take from the tees and the best shots to play vary from day to day depending on the wind, the position of the flag, the state of one’s game and the state of a match. That is the essence of making the game interesting on more than just a superficial level and Royal Queensland is a course that captures that spirit.”
Designer of the Royal Queensland Golf Course