Okay Tiger… your clubs have been collecting spiders for over a year, and your last 19th hole seems a veritable lifetime away. But dodgy knees and other handicaps aside, there’s nothing that beats a round with your mates - and we all know the game’s just an excuse to get together, right?
Hitting the road to decompress over a few fairways and frothies is just what you need - and with some of the lushest holes, smoothest greens and sneakiest sand traps in South Australia, we’ve got your country golf trip sorted. Round up your buddies. Let’s GO!
Shake off the wobblies in Kingston.
You’ve assembled your entourage, dusted off Big Bertha and packed those trusty old cleats… Hey, maybe even a Hawaiian shirt or two? Just don’t forget your all-important caddy (read: esky). It’s time to hit the road from Adelaide and tee-off in the Limestone Coast. First stop… Kingston SE.
As you slip into town, you’ll spot Larry (a.k.a The Big Lobster) on your left – the prime spot for a pre-tour selfie, and a chance to meet a larger than life local. This bloke stands at over 17 metres tall and weighs in at 7 tonnes, heralding your arrival in crustacean country. Right now he may also be the only obstacle between you and a beer, but as you strike a team pose you’ll might also find it strangely interesting to know that lobster shells were once used to make golf balls. No, seriously…
Now, over to beer and lunch… and conveniently you’ll find the Crown Inn Hotel is well placed to open your scorecard in the centre of town, while the Royal Mail Hotel pumps out hearty pub grub on the coast. If you’re basing yourself here for a couple of nights, there’s a number of holiday houses dotted along the shore, while the Lacepede Bay Motel and Restaurant (book a couple of family rooms) is also within a short stagger of most of the main spots.
By now, you’re well fed and watered and - provided you didn’t peak on the first night of the trip - the dewy grass of Kingston SE Golf Club awaits in the morning. This classic country golf course is not only superbly maintained, but offers plenty of fun for total hacks (most of us) as well as seasoned pros. With 18 lush holes set in between ancient dunes and coastal rises (with plenty of rogue trees to bring you unstuck) there’s an honesty box for green fees and a community of spirited volunteers that keep this place in great nick. As you’re loosening those unwieldy arms of yours, you’ll also find plenty of sneaky little dog legs and grassed bunkers that’ll test out your sand iron to no end. Oh, and just look out for the giant gum tree in the middle of the 18th… you’re welcome.
Finding the rough in Robe.
You’re hitting better already, and with a solid round under your belt (plus several lost balls scattered in the scrub), it’s time to raise a glass! On your way to Robe, it’d be sacrilege to pass the Mount Benson Wine Region without quenching your thirst, with a number of cellar doors being on hand to help fill that car boot for nightcaps later on... In even better news, you’ll also find the cool crew at Loophole Brewing Co. co-located at Cape Jaffa Wines, with some eclectic beers to test out in between tee-offs (ever tried a beer infused with biodynamic Gewürztraminer and Shiraz)?
With your whistle wet and the fridge all stocked up with plonk, you’ll be glad to know that no matter where you’re staying in Robe (there’s an amazing selection of holiday houses, hotels, motels, caravan parks and more), you’ll be within striking distance of one of South Australia’s best coastal golf courses.
The Robe Golf Club is perfectly placed just a stone’s throw from the cafes, restaurants and pubs in the main street, with 18 holes of gloriously manicured greens and fairways that are almost too good to tackle. A private members club that offers a friendly welcome to visiting hacks (that’s you), it’s also one of the more picturesque spots to play a round, being perfectly nestled between towering sand dunes and the Southern Ocean.
This place is also unique in that it offers three distinct loops encompassing six holes, so if time’s tight (or the lure of beaches and pubs is just too much), you’ve got the choice of playing 6, 9 or 18 holes at your leisure. Oh, and yes… there’s a fully licensed bar here too, so your 19th will be a doozy.
After a day of lost balls, loose putts, laughs and triple bogeys, The Caledonian Inn (a.k.a. The Cally) shines like a new set of Titleists, with its awesome restaurant and beer garden and a handy little lawn area that fronts directly onto Town Beach. This is the perfect spot to grab a half-crayfish, chips and salad and leg it to a deck chair or table while the sun’s still out.
Of course the Robe Town Brewery’s never too far away either, churning out some pretty interesting brews via the only wood-fired brewing kettle in Australia. If you’re not sure where to start, grab a tasting paddle or two and work your way through the range. You’ll also be glad to know they’re open late on Fridays and Saturdays, with live music and open mic nights being great way to wind up a day’s play.
Birdies and bunkers in Beachport.
After grabbing a fully loaded double-espresso at Mahalia Coffee on your way out of town, it’s only a half-hour drive to Beachport, where 9 lush holes of fairly flat terrain await at Beachport Golf Club. If you’re keen to practice some tee shots, there’s also a driving range here so it might be time to spring on a few new balls and correct that oversized slice of yours.
Just so you know, this course tends to attract the birds (not just of the feathered kind) and if you’re trying to land yourself a birdy, eagle or even an albatross, this might just be your best shot at glory. Being super casual, you’ll also find it pretty easy to wheel your esky (ahem... cart) around without much fuss, while in summer, a twilight round with a frothy finish is best shared with the locals.
Mid-irons in Millicent.
If you’re making your way to Mount Gambier, you’ll definitely want to stretch your legs in Millicent. Home to one of the State’s finest country courses, Millicent Golf Club has been quietly flying under the radar since the 1960’s, with 18 gloriously manicured holes lined by towering gums and some fairly challenging bunkers (have your sand iron handy)! With a full-service bar, putting green and buggies available for hire, expect a long, laid-back round, with local kangaroos in your gallery on most days.
Oh, and if a day on the green has worked up your appetite, it’s also worth noting that the legendary Mayura Station just out of town is home to the nation’s only full-blood Wagyu beef, dishing up paddock-to-plate dining that’ll take you straight to carnivore heaven.
Making the cut in Mount Gambier.
You’re in the big league now… and the thriving metropolis of Mount Gambier is home to two incredible courses, so it’s worth basing yourself here for a couple of days. With plenty of accommodation options around town, from self-contained to hotels, motels, caravan parks and cabins there’s lots of choice here for groups, with both The Commodore on the Park (extensive modern menu) and The Barn (home to The Barn Steakhouse) also offering amazing food and drink.
Back on the track, the Mount Gambier Golf Club has been consistently ranked in Australia’s top 100 golf courses for decades, and one look at its glorious couch fairways will have you pulling on that glove and reaching for Big Bertha quicker than your mates can yell ‘fore’! With a number of holes offering great views across town (enjoy a glimpse of Centenary Tower from the 8th), a round here is like strolling through a garden, with friendly members rolling out the welcome mat for all-and-sundry. Oh, and if you (like us) have a habit of feeding balls to trees, the well-stocked Pro-shop will also have you sorted for fresh gear, while cold beers await at the bar next door.
Just across town, the 18-hole Blue Lake Golf Club is built on the southern crater of Mount Gambier, delivering plenty of jaw-dropping vistas as you make your way around. This course is totally public, with a layout that rewards serious golfers just as much as it does social smashers. With rolling terrain, extensive greens and undulating fairways, buggies can be hired from their handy Lakes Caddy Golf Shop (along with plenty of other gear for purchase) while the fully licensed Bar and Bistro churns out cold beers and meals from Wednesday to Sunday.
For something totally different, you might also want to try swapping your swing for a fling at Mount Gambier Disc Golf, where 18 baskets are just waiting to be filled by champion chuckers from all walks of life. Hit them up for a set of loan discs when you’re in town before honing your frisbee skills in the middle of a volcanic crater.
The back nine.
Making your way inland towards Adelaide, you’ll find countless other local gems, with most major towns offering well-maintained (often volunteer-operated) courses and a wide range of facilities.
Penola Golf Club is highly regarded, with 18 holes of tight fairways, quality greens and sneaky dog legs to make life interesting (look out for local wildlife keeping an eye on play). Just be sure to call ahead before lobbing into town to ensure the course is free. Oh, and of course, this is wine country… and with Australia’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon sitting right on your doorstep in Coonawarra, combining a day’s play with a round of cellar door visits is practically a rite-of-passage.
Surrounded by rich grazing land and towering river gums, Naracoorte may be renowned for its World Heritage-Listed Caves but it’s also home to the magnificent Naracoorte Golf Club. Ask anyone who’s played a round here and they’ll tell you just how plush this place really is… So good, in fact it’s been listed as one of the top 100 public access golf courses in Australia, with manicured greens and fairways that rival the bigger hitters in the city. Just beware of the ball-hungry bunkers!
In Bordertown, the volunteer-operated Bordertown Golf Club is green all year round, offering plenty of sport for anyone keen to wield their one wood. Just be wary of the thick mallee hugging the fairways, as wayward balls will perform a genuine disappearing act if you’re offline. Further north in Tatiara country, the long, narrow fairways of Keith Golf Club will also keep you on your toes, with 18 holes of undulating fairways and sloping greens that are meticulously cared for by passionate locals.
Southern Ports Golf Week.
Okay, so you’re a competitive beast! If you’re heading our way in late summer the Southern Ports Golf Week is a genuine challenge, regardless of your current handicap. Kicking off on the last Saturday in February, this week-long festival takes in the Kingston SE, Robe and Beachport Golf Clubs with a 54-hole Championship, foursomes and mixed events for men and ladies, attracting a great crowd from near and far. It’s a good idea to base yourself in one of the three towns during the action, with summer weather rewarding your efforts with some quality beach time in between bunkers.
Looking for more golf advice? The Limestone Coast has friendly Visitor Servicing experts across the Region's Visitor Centres so give them a call or visit in person for the latest in the moment golf advice!