When we consider all the different sports from around the world, there is perhaps no sport where the boundary of the playing area varies more than golf. Cricket and Aussie Rules fans rightly adore the hallowed turf of the MCG, but ultimately the 22 yard pitch and grass of the oval field are nearly identical to any other cricket field around the world, albeit with a few more grandstands.
Golf is different, no two holes, let alone courses are the same. Each golf game is a new experience and that’s the sense of excitement, the quest to challenge the unknown, the unpredictability that drives us. Golfers, no matter the ability, are all beaming with enthusiasm when walking up to the 1st tee, knowing there is an approximately 6,000 metre journey to the 18th green awaiting them.
Whether you’re like me and your annual leave exists purely to play golf, a weekend enthusiast looking for a new challenge, or just happen to have an afternoon free whilst enjoying the region’s attractions, there’s not too many better places in Australia to enjoy golf than The Whitsundays, Mackay and Isaac Regions.
Green outback oasis’, friendly country town golf clubs, challenging tournament style courses, oceanside resort layouts to a golf course that is literally its own island – there’s so much on offer that makes The Whitsundays, Mackay and Isaac regions the ultimate golfing holiday.
Whitsunday Golf Courses
Includes: Hamilton Island Golf Club, Proserpine Golf Club, Whitsunday Green, Bowen Golf Club and Collinsville Golf Course
The Whitsundays are world famous for sun, golden sands and the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. Where else to start a Whitsundays golf blog than the course that embodies the breathtaking beauty of this region, Hamilton Island Golf Club. A common piece of advice given to amateur golfers is ‘keep your head down’. At no other golf course in the world is following this advice more difficult than this incredible destination. Launching a white golf ball into the tropical blue sky, and seeing it come down onto lush green fairways, lined by crystal blue Whitsunday waters is an experience no golfer will ever forget.
Recommended access to Hamilton Island is via the excellent Cruise Whitsundays ferry services that depart from Airlie Beach. Green fees then cover the ferry from Hamilton Island over to Dent Island, which the golf course solely occupies. Golfers are greeted on arrival to Dent by a magnificent clubhouse that’s a perfect spot to enjoy a meal or drink whilst gazing upon the Coral Sea views.
Designed by five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson, Hamilton Island Golf Course is the ultimate golfing experience. The course layout is designed around maximising views of the surrounding ocean and islands, with many elevated tee boxes and greens. The fairways are lush, and although wide, demand accuracy as any ball off the fairway is lost.
Each hole is a highlight and worthy of special mention, but holes 11 to 17 make for a particularly beautiful challenge as the fairways and greens loop around the southern end of Dent Island. Playing golf on Hamilton Island is an experience every golfer must tick off their bucket list.
Excellent Whitsunday golf courses aren’t just limited to Hamilton Island. At the northern end of the Whitsundays is the beachside Bowen Golf Club. This par 70, 9 hole, 18 tee, links style course makes full use of its prime real estate and offers an equally accessible yet challenging test for all levels of golfer. Playing, or indeed just walking, this beautiful golf course is the perfect way to break up the drive between Mackay, Airlie Beach and Townsville.
At Cannonvale you will find the region’s newest golf course. Opened in June 2020, Whitsunday Green is a very enjoyable Par 3 9 hole course. Par 3 courses are perfect for first time golfers, birthday parties, kids or even seasoned golfers looking to improve their short game. With the longest hole measuring 82 metres, anyone can enjoy a round at Whitsunday Green and finish with a meal at the nearby clubhouse.
Moving away from the coast, golfers are treated to great country style courses at Proserpine and Collinsville. Proserpine Golf Club is a picturesque 18-hole course, nestled between the town and the surrounding sugar cane fields. Further west is the outback oasis of Collinsville Golf Club. This 9 hole course is volunteer run and set amongst a friendly, bush setting.
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Mackay Region Golf Courses
Includes: Mackay Golf Club, Pioneer Valley Golf Club, Sarina Golf Club, Halliday Bay Resort, Black Springs Golf Course, Melaleuca Golf Course, Harrup Park Country Club
Spectacular and unique natural landscapes define The Mackay Region, and these traits extend to its wide variety of golf courses. The award-winning Mackay Golf Club is the region’s premier golf course and hosts several weekly competitions as well as larger tournaments throughout the year. The 18 hole, Par 71 layout places an emphasis on accuracy off the tea with fairways lined with thick trees, and solid bunker play is vital as there are more than 70 sand bunkers dotted around the course.
Elsewhere in Mackay are the three 9 hole courses worth checking out. On the southern outskirts of Mackay near Bakers Creek, and visible from the Bruce Highway is Black Springs Golf Course. Black Springs Golf Course is a 9 hole, 18 tee Par 70 course that features prominent water hazards and sharp dog legs on nearly every hole. In Andergrove is the Melaleuca Golf Course and near the city is the Harrup Park Country Club. These courses are very relaxed courses, designed purely for social play and groups.
North, south and west of Mackay are three challenging courses that all hold weekly competitions for members and visitors. The region’s golf courses can also be enjoyed socially, and played alongside the resident kangaroos, wallabies, and other native wildlife that make The Mackay Region famous.
The 16-hole Sarina Golf Course features picturesque green fairways with significant undulations proving a real test of distance control. Parallel holes of similar distance at Sarina, will play completely different as players will gain distance off one tee box knowing full well the following hole will be played uphill to blind, elevated greens.
A 45-minute scenic drive through the beautiful Pioneer Valley, brings travellers to the RV friendly town of Mirani, home of the Par 72 Pioneer Valley Golf Club. A course that really suits the big hitters, Pioneer Valley measures in at just over 6,100 metres of paper bark and sugarcane field lined fairways. A 65 megalitre dam provides regular water hazards throughout the 18 holes.
Situated just north of Cape Hillsborough, about a third of the way from Mackay to Airlie Beach is the beachside restaurant, RV park, resort, and golf course of Halliday Bay. Travelling golfers are greeted here with beautiful views and friendly Sunday morning competitions. Don’t let the short 9-hole, 18 tee Par 64 scorecard fool you, tight fairways, small greens and constant water hazards makes this a very difficult layout.
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Isaac Region Golf Courses
Includes: Middlemount Golf and Country Club, Tieri Golf Club, Dysart Golf Club, Clermont Golf Club, Moranbah Golf Club, Glenden Golf Club, Brandybottle Camping and Recreational Reserve
Whilst a region made up of small mining communities, separated by expanses of volcanic peaks and brown, windswept plains, may not sound like an obvious golfing destination, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as a tropical oasis draws desert travellers, so too do golfers seek out the lush green fairways of the Isaac Region’s amazing golf courses.
Thanks to the generous support of mining companies, and teams of passionate volunteers and greenkeepers, the Isaac Region is dotted with immaculate country courses. 9 hole, 18 tee courses exist at Middlemount (5,968 metres, Par 72), Dysart (6,158 metres, Par 72), Tieri (6,113 metres, Par 73), Clermont (5,713 metres, Par 71), Glenden (6,218 metres, Par 72), whilst Moranbah offers a 10 hole, 18 tee course measuring 5,864 metres and Par 72. Along the Isaac Coast meanwhile, is a friendly 9 hole course at Brandybottle Camping and Recreational Reserve, located near Clairview.
These courses offer a very enjoyable experience and unique challenge for visiting golfers. Each golf course is home to a distinction that makes it worthy of a visit. Amongst the highlights are the extremely elevated tee boxes of the 1st and 10th holes at Clermont, the oasis style green fairways contrasted to the bright orange soil at Moranbah and the wonderful meals to be enjoyed at the Middlemount Golf Club whilst overlooking the course.
Golfing through the Isaac Region can be as simple as a quick 9 holes to break up a drive, a corporate booking to impress a business colleague, or can create a weeklong golfing holiday.
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This blog was written by Dan Brown for Tourism Whitsundays