RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast of Queensland is set to host its fourth Australian PGA Championship when the event gets underway on December 1.
In 2015, the newly completed and redesigned tournament course at the multi-facility resort proved a demanding test, a score of even par being good enough to earn a place in the playoff between eventual winner, Nathan Holman, South African, Dylan Frittelli, and American, Harold Varner III.
With the benefit of twelve months of additional maturity, the layout is still expected to offer a stern examination for the Australasian / European Tour field lining up in one of Australian golf’s great championships, but should see improved scoring on that produced last year.
Given the blustery conditions on the opening two days twelve months ago and the firmness of the new greens, the high scoring was perhaps not unexpected.
After all, the brief of golf course designer, Graham Marsh, had been to ensure a far stronger test than had been the case in professional tournaments of either gender in the past at RACV Royal Pines. With so much learned then from just how the new course would play and that settling in process, the 2016 version is expected to offer greater scoring opportunities for those playing the PGA Championship.
Lincoln Coombes, RACV Royal Pines golf course superintendent has been tasked with having the course at its peak for the event.
“I think the course is settling nicely. We have had a lot of use this year with so much interest in the new layout and the feedback has been very positive especially as players learn to play the course from the tees that best suit their handicap and capabilities.
“Let’s not forget there were some good scores out there last year including the brilliant 64 on day two by Rhein Gibson, the third round of 66 by Harold Varner and several other rounds of 67 so I think with the course becoming more receptive in the last twelve months we will see lower scoring overall this year.
“There will likely be a few changes in set-up this year including bringing the markers forward on the 14th because the windy conditions and its direction last year made it challenging to keep the ball on the green.
“There may be some different pin positions used this year based on what we learnt last year. So overall I feel it will offer a very fair test now that the front nine has had two years to settle in and the back nine the twelve months.
“We have programmed a light aerate in the next couple of weeks to soften up some of the areas that may have been of concern as we want the greens both firm, yet receptive,” said Lincoln.
Memberships at RACV Royal Pines have more than doubled in the last two years and usage by casual golfers or visitors has increased rapidly in that time as golfers have become aware of the greater test and the more aesthetically pleasing experience the layout now provides.
David Hogben, manager of Golf and Sports at RACV Royal Pines, is delighted with the impact the changes are having on player numbers.
“Members love the challenge the new course provides and for those that are visiting and have perhaps not been here for a while they certainly notice and are enjoying the difference. The golf course is a lot more demanding and asks a lot more of a player now. Having 27 holes back in play is playing its role in number increases but there is also a great deal of overall interest and acceptance in the new look layout.”
John Morris, General Manager RACV Queensland Resorts is also very pleased with the positive impact the upgrade of the golf course and other facilities are having on overall business for the resort.
“Now the course is settling in, we are seeing a really solid response from golfers of all levels,” said Morris. “We are picking up members from not only our local residents but from some of the other courses in the area as people play the new layout and experience the new challenge it offers.
“The redesign and improvement of the course has been complemented by the addition of new leisure facilities such as One Spa, the Gymnasium and the brand new water park, catering for toddlers through to teens. When added to our extensive range of restaurants, this provides a comprehensive range of facilities and entertainment,” said John.
Adam Scott will headline this year’s PGA Championship, the occasional Gold Coast resident having won and finished runner-up at RACV Royal Pines Resort in the past.