It was an early start for Oatlands. Coming from Sydney’s Northern Beaches we had a good hours drive in Sydney’s morning rush hour. But we got there without drama and met our playing partners. Bryce and Jez- a couple of young blokes. Oatland’s has an envied reputation for being the country course in the middle of the city and was once described by Brett Ogle as the best par 70 Golf Course in Australia.. It’s a well loved, beautifully looked after golf course with an honoured history peppered with famous golfers including a young pro named Peter Lonard.
The Lonard Cup is named after Peter and is played every month at “Oats”- which is what ‘Andrew Mirror McCombe’ and my self ‘Shaun Fade Fay’ were teeing up for today.
On the first without even thinking I asked Bryce and Jez if they were up for a fiddle- quick as a wink- Jez suggest 10-10-10. But Mirror’s a bit more canny with his money than me and wanted to check their handicap. 30 and 19 respectively. We dropped it back to 5-5-5.
It was an ugly first hole with both Jez and me finding OB- me an inch over the line. Bryce bogied but it was all he needed on 30 and that was the story of most of the day.
The 2nd is a gloriously long par 3 and while I went a bit right- I was up and down for a 4- our hole.
The high markers, well Bryce in particular were making all the moves and Mirror and I were struggling but I was having my moments. My favourite hole for looks and the way I played it was the 5th. It’s a stunning par 3 with the original ‘Big Valley’ off to the left. I felt a bit girlie pulling out my 5 wood on 168 metres but it worked like a treat- 4 metres from the pin- missed the birdie but an easy par.
We were back in it. But it was a strange day- “Mirror” was off his game and Jez was having a shocker- a big bloke he had very little feel for the course despite it being home ground. The frustration was beginning to build and it wasn’t long before it wasn’t just some interesting language that was being thrown around- we were also dodging the odd club. Never nice. Ah the impetuousness of youth.
It was Bryce who kept them in the game but I pulled us back into it with a par 5 on the 8th. It’s a glorious hole, worth the day in itself. All Square.
Bryce and I found the green on the 9th a tight par 3 but even though I pared it, the 30 handicapper struck again and the first 9 was gone.
By the time we got to the 11th once described by Laura Davies as the toughest par 4 in the world- we were still there but only just. The young blokes had a shocker – talk about divots – while Andrew and I both pared it. We should have pushed on from there and it was certainly ours for the taking. But 20 shots to a fit, young bloke under 30 was just too much in the end. The front, back and match was gone by the 18th and Bryce drove home the knife even further with a lovely par on what must be one of the best finishing holes in Australia. Especially if you’re in the 19th with a beer. Legend has it the members run a book every Saturday in the club house as they try to work out who’s got the best finish.
We paid Bryce and Jez their well earned rewards and popped in for a cold one. Well done boys and while you weren’t the most inspiring company, any day on a golf course is better than working. Just remember though if you can Jez – you’re not the only one out here.
For a course I’d never played before- I really liked Oatlands. I thought it might have been a bit tougher or at least tighter- the fairways are pretty forgiving and I imagine after a few rounds even the hacker would learn how to play it better.
And while the gardens and club rooms are magnificent- I was a bit surprised about the number of divots and pitch marks on the green. Nothing glaring obvious just a few spots now and then. On a private course you expect the members would take a bit more care.
We didn’t have much connection with members on the day but then it was an open comp and a Friday which might have kept a few of the locals away.
Pro shop and club house staff were friendly and efficient.
Will I be back? Yes for sure especially since I beat Mirror on the day- never easy to crack that bloke and I do like the course. Perfect for a tenner like me.
To watch the full episode from Oatlands click here.
Shaun “Fade” Fay www.GolfGetaway.com.au