The Beauty of the Challenge

By Peter Hume

Along with many others, I consider Leura Golf Course to be a gem among courses. One can point to the Blue Mountains locale with its fresh, sweet air, blue vistas and holiday good time ambience. One can point to the peace and quiet of a setting far from busy roads, urban intensity and crowds – here is a course where in the late evening light one can be alone attending to the finer points of one’s game.

And one can point to the actual course – its layout, its history, its presentation. Let me take you over its fairways (some in play for well over a century of years) and explore its character and qualities.

A hole by hole description follows, but firstly let me tell you about the two nines in general and what one can expect as an experience of playing golf here. In the beginning, after a tight opening hole, one treads on fairways that have been in place since 1902. Mature pines and eucalypt stands line the early fairway giving way to more open plantings of European deciduous trees that make autumn very colorful and winter, well, very sculptural as bare limbs border the playing grounds.

Back to back par fives on the 3rd and 4th holes present a welcome challenge to the serious golfer who can be tempted to try for eagle from the tee with due attention to the best angle of approach on the second shot, especially so when the fairways have firmed up in the summer months.

The outer limits of the course surround the 4th green and one hits from an elevated tee to a par 3 at the fifth on the return journey. Many say the uphill 6th is the hardest on the course (before it became a par 5) and the first glimpse of the magnificent Jamison Valley rewards the golfer even when scores don’t.

Parkland holes complete the first 10 holes of the course. At this point members no matter how long they have played here experience something of a tingle. A test of one’s skill is about to start as the back nine unfolds.

Narrow chutes, acute shot angles, blind tee shots, doglegs, forbidding rough and rolling slopes combine to set up a challenge that will stretch one’s concentration and technique.

These next 8 holes require a high degree of commitment to the best play one can manage. And they yield great satisfaction when mastery wins out. The consolidation of breath-taking scenery, adventurous shot-making and sheer sense of achievement at regulation figures, are not to be missed by the serious golfer on these highly individual, delightfully distinctive holes.

They are a great opportunity to refine one’s temperament as well as display the best shots in one’s bag.

Some of the highlights would include the drives on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th dealing with water, OOB, narrow shot lines, precipitous slopes and untouched eucalypt forest with all its difficulties of leaf and stick and bark litter, overhanging branches, nasty roots and tree trunks everywhere. The fairway was never more aptly named than in these parts.

But there’s more…..

Take the 14th – a signature hole in every sense. Driving the crest of a hill, one is then confronted with a glassy green at least 30 meters below the tee shot. One’s best chance is the fully pitched approach that plummets to a stop on this treacherous surface. The green itself overlooks a 40-50 kilometre unimpeded view straight down the Jamison to faraway Mittagong and the Southern Highlands.

Take the 16th – a 500m par 5 that has another blind tee shot to a crest that demands the most exact second to avoid forest on the left and water to the right on a fairway tilted to the water and riding off at a dogleg right. All this to an elevated green, with a false front on the side of a hill.

Take the 17th par 3 – a full carry of over 170 metres is needed here or one ends up at the bottom of a crater, albeit grassy, the flag invisible some 20-30 metres above you.

One knows one’s golf has been thoroughly examined by this chain of linked beauties. It is not often that such a succession of self-contained and confronting contests is served up to the golfer.

They are at Leura and, along with many others, I never tire of competing against them in a spirit of besting them or maintaining my composure in the attempt. Come and see for yourself.