“So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to Gardiners Run.”
Gardiners Run opened in 2014 and takes its name from the original land owner John Gardiner. The Chirnside Park Country Club sold its course and land to developers and relocated to its current site in Lilydale. The golf course sits now out near a few others, namely The Eastern golf club, re-located from Doncaster and Yering Meadows, which is the re-located Croydon golf club. This area of Lilydale has become popular with these re-locating golf clubs, because it has huge plots of land to use, but unfortunately, the ground itself is not really meant for a golf course.
This presents a problem because during the winter months, these golf courses suffer from being, how do I say it nicely? A little wet. Playing Gardiners Run today, I was reminded that severe rains had not come to the area yet, but still, the ground on the golf course was wet in many places. There seems to be a program for getting this fixed, but the area itself will never allow this to be stamped out altogether. Still, Gardiners Run is an interesting place to play golf.
Interesting because of the layout of the course. Designed by Pacific Coast Designs, the golf course has plenty of elevation changes and interesting hole designs to make a round here very enjoyable. The front nine is, I think, the better challenge, as the back nine holes loses its way a little and a few of the holes are a little same same.
The 1st is an opening 365 meter, par 4 with fairway bunkers left and right, then a right dogleg with more bunkers surrounding the green. This is the hardest hole on the golf course, according to the index, but if you get a good drive away, you will only have 7/8 iron to the green. The 2nd hole is a par 5 and there is out of bounds down the left, so keep your drive on or to the right of the fairway for the best result. At 495 meters, the long hitters may reach the green in two, but the smart play is a mid-iron down the hill to the flat part of the fairway, then a wedge to a pretty flat green.
A short par 3 follows, but it is guarded by water right and bunkers as well. Again, the green is reasonably flat and that remains a constant throughout this course. The 4th heads up the hill with more out of bounds down the left. Make sure to take an extra club up to the green as the bunker short will catch you otherwise. The par 4, 5th is a great little hole. During the summer months, the 304 meters, downhill, will surely be attempted by many. The smart play though is to take a long iron from the tee and an easy wedge to this large green.
The 6th has the danger of water down the left, as well as a raised green protected by bunkers on the right. This is one of the few greens here with plenty of slope from back to front. Don’t miss long or left as it will be hard to make par.
The 175 meter, par 3, 7th is a tough test. Big bunkers guard the front left as well as the right. There is a narrow passage into this green and the long flag position will make you take plenty of club to get it back on this large green. The 8th is another reachable par 5 for the long hitters, but otherwise a gentle straight par 5 of 493 meters. The 9th is a tough par 4 if you go into the fairway bunkers right, otherwise you should make par. The small well bunkered green is hard to hit, but easy to putt on.
There are some highlights on the back nine holes, but there are also some holes that really are just up and back. 10 is a very good par 5. Tough drive and a blind second shot around a right dogleg to a well-protected green. Par is a very good score. The 11th is another short par 3 that is surrounded by bunkers. Taking plenty of club will see you avoid any sand.
12, 13 and 14 are in my mind, very similar. Unsure of the design inspiration here as they are all par 4's between 355-389 meters and all seem to just make you play up and back along to the 15th. The course gets interesting here as there is a blind drive over a hill to a well bunkered green. This hole is short, but I’m guessing it gets its fair share of 5’s and 6’s.
The 16th is the best-looking par 3 here. It's only 148 from the back tees, but there is sand most of the way along the right-hand side, but the two-tiered green and waste area left make sure you have to hit a good shot to score. The long pin position will take at least an extra club to get to, as this green is longer than it is wide. Great hole!
The 17th is another 493-meter par 5 but you must keep your drive to the right of the fairway if you want to reach it in two. Another raised and tricky green awaits you at the end. That brings us to the 18th. The par 4 18th is not overly long at 380 meters, but it is tricky. You should keep your drive down the left side to cut some yardage off the hole and after reaching the hill and the slight dogleg left, the green is surrounded by water and sand. A tough par 4 to finish this interesting challenge.
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The best part about Gardiners Run are the greens. They are receptive and they run true. You can be confident with your short putts and accurate with your long ones as well. There was plenty of sand in all the bunkers and they look well maintained. The design on the back nine is a little strange and the price of $59 on the weekend is a little steep, but the only downside is the wetness of the tees and fairways. Like a few of the golf courses we have reviewed, it's best to play this one in summer and you'd be wise to check the conditions with the pro shop in winter before you drive out. The 19th hole is new and looks to cater for the largest of groups. The front nine holes at Gardiners Run really is interesting. The use of elevation and contouring, as well as the variation of holes is a big tick for the designers. Of the golf courses out this way, this 9 holes is definitely my favourite. Overall, Gardiners Run is an enjoyable day out. Go play it!