One of the great pleasures of playing at The Stirling Golf Club is the wonderful course environment. Cox’s Creek meanders through the course, and together with a number of dams and lakes, the water attracts a wide variety of bird life. You may even see the odd koala if you are lucky, and our resident white kangaroo can often be seen near the 7th fairway.
Even If you hit a duffed shot, you can at least take solace in soaking up the natural beauty that surrounds you.
The course is located in some of the most pristine natural bushland in the Adelaide Hills. The deciduous trees look fantastic in Autumn, transforming the course into a stunning display of colour.
The First is a simple opening hole for the player who is warmed up and comfortable teeing off in front of an audience, but a steep climb for even the fittest. Strong players can reach the green with their tee shot, but you had better be straight; the woods are full of long drivers.
For most players there are two choices: play either a fairway wood or long iron off the tee, leaving a delicate pitch to the elevated green, or lay-up with a mid-iron, leaving a full wedge or short iron to the green. Whichever you choose, avoid the left edge of the fairway, where overhanging trees will hamper the approach.
Because of the elevation of the green, even a well-lofted approach will run more than usual on landing. It takes a well-judged shot to get close when the pin is cut towards the front of the green.
The Second hole provides the exhilaration of driving from an elevated tee, but remember the out-of-bounds along the right-hand side, where the car parks (and your car ?) can easily be reached with a well sliced driver. Also avoid the left side, where a stand of tall gum trees blocks the approach to the green.
This hole is best played as a slight dogleg to the left. Place a long iron or fairway wood into the bulge midway along the right side of the fairway. Because of the steep slope to the right, this requires a drive directed down the left of the fairway in summer and perhaps down the middle in winter. This leaves the ideal angle for a short iron or wedge approach up to the well-bunkered green.
The first of six par threes, the Third can require a club selection ranging from a mid iron to a fairway wood, depending
on the position of the tee markers.
Take some care with alignment – many players find this tee seems to induce a shot directed right of the target. A slight miss to the right will often get a good result, possibly bouncing off the bank onto the green.
Arguably The Stirling Golf Club’s signature hole, the Fourth is a dogleg to the right, played from an elevated tee to a green tucked behind Cox’s Creek. To reach the green in regulation requires a well placed drive of around 230 metres to the centre or left of the fairway.
Long hitters, especially in summer, need to beware of running into the strategically-placed burn, which crosses the fairway just past the corner. From behind the burn, the second shot is a well judged short iron or wedge, played from a downhill lie to a green with water in front and a rough covered bank behind.
If your drive is not likely to reach the corner, as in winter conditions, you might be better off playing a fairway wood or long iron from the tee, to make sure of hitting the fairway. The percentage play then would be to lay-up short of the burn, leaving a full approach shot to the green, rather than play over the burn and attempt the more delicate pitch across the creek.
A generous landing area makes the Fifth a good hole on which to exercise the shoulders and launch a long drive (aim for the large pine tree standing to the left of the green).
A drive that lands any where right of the centre of the fairway, will end up in the right rough, as this fairway slopes from left to right. This will leave you with a risky uphill shot over two bunkers to the green. A sliced drive will often end up in the trees that divide the 5th and 7th fairways.
A good birdie chance.
The Sixth is a downhill par three, which requires anything from a short iron to a long iron, depending on where the tee markers are placed.
Two pot bunkers on the front right side of the green are placed to catch the short shot, but this may be preferable to recovering from the rough behind the green.
Out-of-bounds down the left side is waiting to claim a pulled tee shot (or the lefthanders slice).
To score well here requires a good drive. This is a blind tee shot over a slight hill to a fairway that slopes from right to left. Aim for the right hand side of the fairway as a drive on this line will roll left down the slope and hopefully finish in the centre of the fairway.
A drive played down the middle of the fairway will probably finish off the left-hand side of the fairway, where trees will block the long approach to the green. If your drive leaves you with a fairway wood or long iron to the green, and probably a downhill lie, it may pay to treat this hole as a par five.
Lay up with your second well short of the two bunkers that guard the approach to the green. The left-hand bunker is a difficult 30 metres short of the green.
A challenging tee shot with water to carry, as well as a willow tree overhanging the left-hand corner of the fairway.
Longer hitters may take their chances trying to cut the dog-leg over the trees. Beware, however, as anything less than a perfect tee shot will finish in the creek running along the left-side of the hole.
The smart golfer will aim to finish between the willow and a gum tree on the right-hand side. This leaves an approach of between 150 and 170 metres. Par on this hole is a good score.
An eagle chance for long hitters, a visiting expert holed the Ninth in one in 1999. For those golfers unable to carry a drive 226 metres, this hole is still a good birdie chance and an easy par four.
On the left is out-of-bounds.
A straight tee shot of 130 metres or more will reach the fairway, leaving an uphill shot to the green with a wedge or short iron.
A deep bunker guards the front right of the green.
You must thread your drive between a large and seemingly magnetic pine tree on the right and a water hazard followed by out-of-bounds on the left.
A draw hit to the hill in the middle of the fairway will run on over the crest to finish near the left of the fairway or maybe in the light rough. This sets up an attacking approach to the green with a short or mid iron.
Be cautious when playing the second shot from behind the hill, short of the 150-metre marker. A natural tendency for this shot to fly left can see the ball finishing in serious trouble left of the green.
The Eleventh is the easiest hole on the course, according to the card. The tee shot requires a short iron or mid iron, depending the position of the tee markers and the strength and direction of the wind.
Check the flag and surrounding tree tops for wind information. A substantial headwind is common, and generally requires one extra club from the tee.
On the right of the green there is a steep drop,so the safety play is to aim for the left edge of the green. A pulled shot will often bounce off the bank above the green and roll down to finish on the putting surface.
Here is another of The Stirling Golf Club’s elevated tees and a fine driving hole.
The fairway slopes left to right, so your drive needs to land on the higher left side to finish on the mown surface, but beware of the out-of-bounds following the left side of the fairway. The Twelfth green is tightly guarded, by large overhanging pine trees on the left.
To give yourself the best angle in, you want your drive to finish on the right-hand side of the fairway, or even in the right rough, below the bank defining the edge of the fairway. The overhanging pines will catch a lofted approach from too far left and a running approach has to thread a narrow gap to the green.
This is the shortest hole on the course, measuring 141 metres from the blue markers. It is downhill and usually played into a headwind that might not be apparent until you walk over the brow on the way to the green.
The tee shot requires either a short or a mid iron, allowing an extra club when the wind is blowing. The ground drops sharply behind and to the right of the green, so anything misdirected there will entail a difficult recovery shot. Hidden from view just short and left of the green is a not-too-ferocious bunker.
A tee shot directed towards the left of the green and intended to land over this bunker is a reasonable safety play. Alternatively, a shot directed at the green but landing 10 or 20 metres short is likely to kick on to the putting surface..
The tee shot is launched uphill from a long narrow tee set back in a corridor carved from the native bushland. Long drivers can hope to reach the green, although it is hidden from view beyond the crest of the hill, and carefully tended rough guards the approaches.
A drive that finishes more towards the left side of the fairway will provide a better angle for the wedge or short iron approach shot.
An approach landing in the rough above and to the right is likely to bounce down on to the green.
This can be a good safety play for the second shot, especially for the golfer with a tendency to pull when playing from a side-hill lie. Behind this green is a thick stand of small trees and shrubs, so do not over club.
This is the most difficult par three at The Stirling Golf Club, and rated number four on the card. Many a match has finished abruptly here, thanks to the two strokes given to a high-handicap opponent.
From the back markers, the tee shot requires a long iron or fairway wood. From the forward markers it will be a mid iron.
A tee shot that misses to the right will be caught by one of the bunkers or roll down the rough-covered slope.
A good strategy therefore is to aim the drive well left of the green and allow the slope to carry the ball down onto the putting surface. Behind the green is serious trouble, so beware of over clubbing.
For men, the Sixteenth is the only par five on the course. Low markers can aim right and expect their drive to clear the ridge 210 metres from the tee and roll well down the other side, leaving them a chance of reaching the green in two.
Average golfers should hit their drive to the left (aim for the large pine beyond the ridge). Drives up the middle often roll across to the right side of the fairway, where trees block the second shot.
Ideally, that second shot should finish on the right-hand side of the fairway, 90 to 100 metres from the green.
This leaves a pitch shot over the hidden bunker lying short of the green on the right-hand side. Alternatively, play a pitch and run through the gap to the left of the bunker.
Pin position is important on the Sixteenth, as this green is more than 35 metres long, with severe undulations. Unless the pin is in the easier central swale position, two putts are a good result.
The Seventeenth generally requires a mid to long iron off the tee, depending on where the markers are set and on the strength of the headwind, which can be substantial.
Timber cramps the tee shot down the right-hand side and a large deciduous tree guards the right edge of the green, so the preferred shot is a fade aimed at the left edge.
Tee shots flying long and left of the green will clean up players on the mens’ Eighteenth tee, before ending in serious difficulty in or behind the equipment shed.
The final hole is a par five for the ladies and the longest par four for the men (though rated number three on the card). The Eighteenth is yet another satisfying driving hole, the setting for official long driving contests during competition play and usually subject to a Gorilla side-bet in four ball matches.
For the average player to reach this green in regulation requires two exceptional shots. A small bunker and a steep slope protect the green on the left. The safest approach is therefore to aim towards the bank on the right of the green. This guards against a pull to the left or may benefit from a kick to the left off the bank. Most golfers should expect to be playing a pitch in to the green for their third shot, still with a chance to sink their putt for par.