Bungool course at Riverside Oaks Resort opens for play


Bungool course at Riverside Oaks Resort opens for play
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The second nine holes of a new golf course designed by Bob Harrison has opened for play in Australia.

The Bungool course is the second to open at the Riverside Oaks Resort near Sydney and compliments the existing Gangurru course at the site.

Located between an extensive natural forest and the shores of the Hawkesbury River, the architect has described the Bungool site as having many ‘natural advantages’, which he said ‘made it possible to develop an outstanding golf course for a comparatively very low cost’.

GCA caught up with Harrison to find out more about the Bungool project.

“In construction, the emphasis was on the golfing ‘features’ of the course,” said Harrison. “The fields where the holes were built were covered with a natural couch grass, meaning extensive planting during construction was not necessary. We improved the surfaces while promoting the existing grasses, with some supplementary planting taking place in some areas.”

Focusing on the natural aspects of the site has formed a key part of Harrison’s approach, and some manufactured mounds were removed as part of the construction process.

“The emphasis has been on refining and finessing of natural shapes to produce beautiful and strategically-interesting holes,” he said. “Even greater emphasis has been placed on the shapes of the greens surfaces and the immediate surrounds of the greens. These have been developed to favour different types of shots – both running shots and through-the-air – and to favour approach shots to particular pin spots from the particular angles on the fairways.”

Formerly an architect at Greg Norman’s firm, Harrison has worked on a number of high profile courses in Australia, including The Moonah course at The National Golf Club, Victoria, The Glades Golf Club near Robina and the Pelican Waters course, both of which are located in Queensland.

“The landscape is beautiful and spectacular in places but has a certain ruggedness to it as well,” said Harrison. “This ruggedness suggests a style for bunkers which is still oriented to attractive patterns of shape in the bunker faces – but without pristine edges or finishes. The bunkers have a certain wildness which fits the overall appearance of the course.”

The full course measures between 6,900 and 6,950 yards from the back tees, and Harrison has paid particular attention to the course’s green sites in a bid to make them particularly interesting.

“As a result of this approach, three or four of the greens run downhill – away from the approaching play,” said Harrison. “Sadly, this concept is often criticised in modern times, which is unfortunate because it can readily lead to interesting strategy.”

With the full opening of the Bungool course, Harrison is confident that Riverside Oaks is in a good golfing position going forward.

“With 36 holes to offer on the fringe of Sydney, substantial contrast between the two 18s, and with clubhouse and attached accommodation, this project is well equipped to satisfy the golf conference market as well as interest from golfers in general,” he concluded.