Curlewis Golf Club
"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to Curlewis."
There has been a lot of golf industry chatter regarding the Curlewis golf club recently. Apparently, there is to be much investment made on the course, the clubhouse and perhaps even the surrounding area. Upon playing the course today though, I didn't see much evidence of it. The Daddyshack crew played the course and were, quite frankly, not impressed with the facility.
We were forced onto the back nine to start and were amazed to find just how wet the course was. Although the website boasted a "sand base", there were wet tees, wet fairways, wet bunkers and extremely wet rough. My shoes were soaked by the 2nd fairway. It's strange, because I thought there really hasn't been a great deal of rain in Victoria this winter as yet. It must all be falling in down Geelong though, as the course was damp just about everywhere. Except the greens. The greens, I thought, were fantastic. If there has been investment here, it surely looks like it has been on the greens. The bunkers on the back nine looked as though they had been added to recently, but the front nine looked as if they had not had the same treatment. Very different in both the sand and the consistency.
So what is the course like, I hear you ask. Well, let's go through a few of the better holes. The 1st is a great starting par 5. The opening drive from an elevated tee position through tall trees either side looks fantastic and the rest of the hole does not disappoint either. The fairway winds around to the right, then uphill to a dome type green. Fairway bunkers left and right protect and even the third shot has danger involved because the green runs off severely to the back. Get it up though, or suffer the ball rolling back to your feet. A great start.
The 2nd hole is a par 4 with a large fairway trap protecting the right side of the fairway. Another 2 bunkers protect the front right as well as 2 on the left of the green. This hole may only be 330 meters, but it's no easy par. Up the hill to the 3rd tee and you are presented with a view of Corio bay. You also get a great look down the 302m 3rd to the green. This downhill par 4 would be drivable in the summer months I would think, but don't miss. Left there is deep trouble and OOB and missing right leaves you with a tough shot over sand. Set yourself up by taking fairway wood or iron off the tee then a wedge to a tricky green.
The 4th is your first par 3 of the course and has a big undulating green. A huge bunker guards the left and a small one on the right means you need to hit this green. Elevation to the front edge and a hill over the back makes trouble from all sides if you miss. The 5th is a straight par 4, with out of bounds back right of the green. Be careful with your approach shot and you could make birdie on this pretty flat green.
This brings you to the 6th. One of the better par 5's here, in my opinion, because it makes you think a little. It's not just driver off the tee, fairway wood and wedge. It's fairway wood or even long iron off the tee for placement, right is a water hazard and thick trees and too far left and your second is blocked by tall pine trees. The fairway winds around to the left, almost a horseshoe, so a second shot out to the right may be the best bet for most, for it gives you a great look at the green that finally comes into view with about 140 meters left. The third shot has to be played below the hole as this green slopes back to front, par is a very good score.
The 7th uses some clever elevation with a large hill about driving distance from the back tees. There is a water hazard left, but right you have a generous fairway with plenty of room so don't be afraid to have a go at your drive. The further you down you get the better, as the green sits back quite a long way and you will need plenty of club if you don't get drive over the hill. The next par 3 is another that is surrounded by sand, but is only 140 meters, so hit your short iron onto the green and a par should follow. Then onto the ninth.
The 9th hole is probably the best par 4 here at Curlewis. It has out of bounds all down the left side, so DON'T hook any shot along this hole. There is plenty of room out to the right off the tee, so aiming down the left and hitting a cut is the best idea. Once on the fairway and having avoided the large left bunker, the second shot needs to get all the way up to this elevated green, so take an extra club. You will be pleased you did as anything short will be a tough chip for par. The green is tough to read and slopes from back to front. A really good finish to the best nine here, the front.
Moving onto the back nine, I cannot be as complementary as I have been on the front. The back nine holes loses its way a little with the elevation changes evident on the front nine gone and replaced by flat uninteresting holes. I have to say, the back 9 was WET! The 10th is one of the strangest holes on the back, If you have played this hole before, you might take driver out and have a crack, but looking at it for the first time, it presents differently. Out of bounds left, water right and rough that eats into the fairway just over 200m off the tee. The best play here is to take out the driver and try to carry all the trouble.
The 11th is a dog leg left par 4, the 12th a par 5 dog leg right, the 13th a 190 meter par 3, the 14th a par 5 with trouble left. All of these holes had one thing in common, they did not excite me. The up and back nature of them had me yawning and searching for something better. Luckily, a really good stretch of holes was to follow.
15 is a great hole. A 400m par 4 with sand and rough left and right forces you to thread you drive between the trouble. A solid mid-iron is then required to a smallish green. You can bail out left, but there is trouble right with bunkers and deep rough guarding.
the 16th is another great hole. Trouble left again off the tee (seems like a hooker's nightmare this course) and a second shot to a hard to see evelvated green. When the pin is tucked behind the right bunkers, only a brave man will go for it. I tried to bail out left, but ended up hitting it at the pin. Luckily, I had enough club to get it there. Seems like an easy par here, but I can also see many bogeys and doubles here as well.
The 17th hole is the best looking par 3 here. Take out your camera and snap away for all you Instagrammers out there. You can find our shot on the Daddyshack Instagram account if you follow us, if not, search Daddyshack Australia to find us. It's a fantastic looking par 3 that is surrounded by sand, as all good par 3's are, and a back to front sloping green. It's only 165 meters, so grab a mid iron and go at the pin. If the 12th tee has people watching, they will be applauding you if you knock it close.
That just leaves the 18th. A hole that I did not really enjoy on the day, as I made a triple bogey, but I can see it has some good points. The drive needs to be kept left of 2 big bunkers on the right of the fairway. Your second shot is hit at a green that is protected by water left short, bunkers right, deep rough way right and a run off left that will require a great short game to get up n down. It's not that tough of a hole yardage wise, but with all the trouble, I can see how big scores are made because I made one myself!
Well that is how we saw Curlewis. Confused still as to why the website claims a sand base, when in actual fact, the fairways and tees were soaked. Confused by the top 100 ranking of 75 because it really loses its way on the back nine and the course it not overly difficult at 126 slope rating. Although we had a great day with sunshine, the golf course left us feeling like there needs to be more money spent on it.....in the right areas.
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1. Tees 10/15
2. Fairways 10/15
3. Bunkers 8/15
4. Greens 13/15
5. Design 8/15
6. The 19th 11/15
7. Price 7/10
Industry chatter and their website heightened our expectations but we couldn't help feeling a little deflated. Don't get us wrong, the course is good, but we just expected more. They do have great greens and some very interesting holes, but it is not, in our opinion, a top 100 golf course. It's not a sandbelt golf course as many reviews say, the amount of surface water and heavy fairways seems contradictory. Given the choice, I would drive the extra 20 minutes and play 13th Beach or Barwon Heads. We were really looking forward to playing Curlewis, but drove home just a little disappointed. You should try it for yourself so go play it!