Sunshine Golf Club
“So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to Sunshine golf club.”
A local Sunshine pro called Craig Parry (you may have heard of him) is largely responsible for the current layout at Mt Derrimut. In 2004 the SGC (Sunshine Golf Club) relocated from its Fitzgerald Rd site it had occupied since 1964 to its current location – but the original club was founded in 1923 on a patch of land aptly referred to as the “rock and thistle” due to the property being heavily infested with lava rock and scotch thistles.
If you’ve travelled on the Western Freeway you have passed SGC and may have not given the thought of playing there much time. To coin a “Mollyism”, do yourself a favour, make time to tee it up here, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ok, so our tee time was just before lunch on a lovely Sunday afternoon – not ideal if you want a brisk round – in saying that, even with loads of traffic it took just over 4 hours to play 18, not bad really. The preceding week had been a little wet, but the fairways were not at all waterlogged – there were some low lying areas that were damp. And lastly, the greens had been cored the week before – poor timing on our behalf, you can’t blame the club for undertaking necessary maintenance.
Negatives aside, we were looking forward to our round, I mean it was our first time here and who doesn’t look forward to playing a course for the first time. It was the changes in elevation that surprised us as it was completely unexpected – you don’t imagine Sunshine to be “hilly” and it made club selection interesting.
The front 9 has the best of the design if you ask me. The downhill dogleg 1st hole is a great opener and will have some guessing about driver, 3 wood or hybrid straight away. The long hitter can try and bite off some of the corner, but it is not really the smart play. Playing to the end of the dogleg, then a 8/9 iron in is the best way to get on the board early. The 2nd hole is a par 5 that makes its way up a hill and through one of the heritage stone wall crossings. These walls are in a few places throughout the course and relief can be taken as they are an immovable obstruction. Try to avoid the big fairway bunker left off the tee and you should have a chance of reaching this green in 2.
What goes up, must come down and the 3rd hole does just that. The only trouble off the tee is rough and trees as this fairway is not the widest target there. A good drive away and you will be inside 100m to this right to left sloping tough green. The 4th is my favourite hole on the course. It’s a par 5 and like the 2nd hole, it has a large fairway bunker left that must be avoided off the tee. A good drive to the right-hand side of the fairway will leave you with a fairway wood to the green or a layup with a medium to long iron. Several fairway traps down the left side near the green must be avoided and the green itself is not big. It slopes back to front so make sure you get the ball to the hole or it may run back off the front.
The 6th is another favourite and from the tee you cannot see all the bunkers down the left side. The best play here is to give them a wide berth and hit to the right fairway. It’s only when you leave the tee and start walking down the fairway will you see that the bunkers jut out into the fairway more than you think they do. A solid 8/9 iron into a green that is protected left and front by bunkers awaits you. The green is domed and hitting the edges will make the ball run off. Tricky putts here and par is a good score.
The 7th and the 8th are much the same as each other. 7 going down the hill a little and 8 coming back up. Both of these par 4’s will require good medium irons into greens that are not easy to read. Get through these 2 holes with pars and you should be proud that your game is on for the day. This will bring you to the 9th tee. Hole 9 is a ripper. A short par 3 down the hill that sits between 2 large trees and a deep bunker on the right of the putting surface. The green runs away on the left side and even though this hole is short, only one person in our group went to the green with putter in hand.
To me there is a very distinct difference between the front and the back nines. The front 9 is tricky and you need to be accurate with the driver as well as very good with the putter to survive with a good score. The back 9 is just the opposite. The fairways are wide and the greens have less undulation to them. There is also much more water on the back so it seems like a very different course to me. The tree lined fairways of the front 9 give way to the links style of the back as less importance is placed on being pin point, but more on getting as much distance as you can to help make these bigger holes easier to complete. I found myself really opening up the shoulders on the back side and even though I missed a few fairways, I did not suffer.
The par 5’s on the back are quite long and the 13th (nearest the freeway) has a water crossing in the middle of the fairway that will require some thought before hitting short of or going over. The back shows less imagination and although the 10th is quite a good hole, 11 and 12 seem a little mundane. Coming back towards the clubhouse on 14 and the same same continues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these are bad holes, but compared to the front 9, they are not as interesting.
The 15th is a great little par 3 with water down the left and bunkers to the right. At only 158m it’s not long, but you will need to be accurate as anywhere but the green is bad. The 16th has another water crossing on it off the tee, but it is at about the 275m mark, so most can blaze away with driver and be safe. The green is tucked away to the left after a long second shot and guarded left and right by buinkers. The 17th looks great from the tee and there will need to be a long straight shot played here as there is water right and left. About 100m from the green on the right side is a large tree that block anyone heading down the right side of the hole. I found this hole one of the best designed ones on the back and you really have to negotiate your way to a par.
The 18th hole stands out as the best hole on the back and a large lake guards the right side. Newly made mounds down the left will be difficult to play from when they are ready as the second shot goes up the hill towards the clubhouse. Guarded by deep bunker right and a deeper swale left, hitting the putting surface is needed for a par. Chipping around this green will take some skill, especially with the clubhouse patrons looking on as you attempt to be delicate.
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We both liked the design of the front 9 especially and some of the back 9. The tees were marked down because they all seem to slope one way or another. It always amazes us how golf courses cannot seem to GET THE TEES FLAT. The condition played a little on our minds as we marked the course and we are sure that going back in summer will produce higher scores. It has been wet and the bunkers and some fairways showed it. The greens were a little slow but overall, we had a great time at Sunshine. It is open to the public Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday all day. Thursday after 9.00am and Saturday after 3.30pm. Green fees are a reasonable $35 on weekdays and $45 on weekends. Call the Pro Shop on (03) 9363 2639 for the friendly staff to book you in. If you are the type who enjoys a beers or two after the game, do not go play on Mondays as the 19th is closed. Go play it!