Aston Hills Golf Club is situated just outside of Mount Barker – a short cruise down the freeway from the Adelaide CBD.
Despite being only a quick drive from town and circled by housing developments, the course maintains a country feel with plenty of furry, four-legged friends habituating the fairways.
Aston Hills boasts all the main features of a well-established golf course: a large carpark (which fills up on weekends), full-length range, chipping area, pro-shop and restaurant.
It lacks that final 10 percent of polish that an elite club has, but admittedly bunker edges trimmed with nail clippers offer more intimidation, rather than excitement, for most average golfers anyway.
The course is gently undulating, offering just enough elevation to make for some picturesque tee shots and cambered greens.
Tall gums line most fairways and make golfers think their way through some of the shorter Par 4s, as opposed to blasting their way through the layout.
Weekends, when most people obviously play their golf, do get busy, with many colourful shirt clad groups playing their monthly social club round on a Sunday.
While this can reduce availability, it does speak for Aston Hills’ popularity and their welcomeness in getting groups from anywhere and everywhere onto their course.
At the end of the day, if nobody is on your golf course, there’s probably a reason for it – so this should be considered an endearing feature, rather than a detraction.
Aston Hills delivers a tale of two nines with some interesting variation between front and back halves.
The only Par 5s are located on the front nine, contributing to the slightly reduced par 70 layout.
Additionally, bunkering, especially around the greens, is somewhat rare on your first trip back to the clubhouse, whereas on the back nine, greenside bunkering and trickier complexes feature more heavily.
The leveller here is length, with the front nine boasting a couple of brutes, such as the 406m Par 4 third.
Turn on to the back nine and the additional bunkering is combated by five of the Par 4s measuring south of 330m.
Sometimes, there is a fear that shorter Par 4s can detract from a course – the tenth measures a meagre 263m off the blue tees, followed closely by the 274m eleventh.
Surprisingly, though, these short Par 4s fit pleasantly into the flow of the course, and the high gums lining the fairways create more than enough risk to deter most from trying to drive them.
This results in five or six-irons off the tee, leaving genuine wedges for the approach and making pars stand out on the card.
A sprinkling of water and well-placed ponds help add to the defences and, overall, the collection of medium-length Par 5s, short and long Par 3s, and highly varied Par 4s will make any golfer use their full arsenal of tricks around this course.
Aston Hills boasts a range of memorable holes of the Par 3, 4 and 5 variety, making the selection of three quite a difficult task to complete.
Tight, dog-legging Par 4s add interest to the round, while short, downhill Par 3s are fun for golfers of any ability.
If nothing else, the variation in lengths and styles of holes is a feature of the course in itself.
The Par 5 fifth is the first of only two longer holes at Aston Hills, followed by the second and final one straight afterwards.
Players tee off onto a generous fairway, with only severely hooked or sliced shots finding the dense tree line.
The beauty of the fifth is the pressure it places on the second shot, with an awkwardly distanced gully sitting 50-70m short of the green.
If a full rip of the three wood doesn’t make it close to the green, your shot may well feed back down and make for an awkward third.
Take slightly too much club for a layup and a dry summer fairway could see your ball to run out into the ditch.
For most players, this hole will be a genuine three-shotter to an elevated and sloping green.
The ninth is one of the strongest offerings at Aston Hills, measuring 370m from tee to green.
The tee shot is pushed to the left-hand side of the fairway by tall gums, which block corner-cutters looking to play over the right-hand dogleg.
An approach from the left of the fairway will give the better line, but also require more club – something to make many a golfer nervous considering the water hazard hugging the right-hand side of the hole.
Any decent connection into the green will take the hazard out of play, but a hard left-to-right slice off the tee could see you dropping your second shot.
Be around the green for two and you’re every chance for an up and down par, or even a bogey – both respectable results on this tough hole.
The last hole at Aston Hills is a hard-left dogleg measuring an unassuming 298m.
Look beyond its short length and you’ll admire a hole that can be played in several different ways – an embodiment of the overall feel of the course as a whole.
A mid iron down to the corner will flirt with a drain if not struck pure, so many players will feel the need to take metal off the tee.
Spray your shot too far right and your uphill approach will be remarkably long, given the length of the hole.
If you are daring, a high, booming draw that cuts the corner will come close to finding the green, or one of the front bunkers guarding it, at the very least.
Be wary of finding the sand short of the green though, as a shot out of the teeth of your wedge will run the risk of shattering a clubhouse window and making the post round beer taste extra bitter.
Pace of play/tee time availability
Outside of traditional competition times, the course is open and available to all.
It will pay to book ahead for a Sunday round, as it’s a busy day for members and visitors alike.
As mentioned earlier, Aston Hills’ business is largely attributed to its willingness to welcome visitors, and large group bookings are likely to be offered a discount.
It is important not to be too scared off by the competition for peak time bookings, as pace of play is generally fine and moves smoothly as long as basic etiquette is observed.
How welcome are visitors?
Outside of member’s competition times, visitors are more than welcome and openly encouraged.
Just book well ahead if you’re going around on the weekend, and are in need of a certain slot.
Is there a dress code?
The dress code is pretty standard fair, like most mid-tier courses.
Neat shorts or pants and a collared shirt, sneakers and nothing too offensive in the logo department are required.
Oddly enough, neat and tidy jeans are acceptable, although we question how much enjoyment anyone can have golfing in denim – just hit up GolfBox and treat yourself, for goodness sake.
A full outline of the dress requirements is detailed below.
The following forms of dress are acceptable:
- Collared shirt or a shirt with a derivative collar which is a defined part of the shirt, which includes a ‘turtleneck’
- Tailored trousers or shorts
- Socks are to be worn with shorts
- Jeans (Neat and clean)
- Golf Shoes or sporting activity shoes that will not damage the course surfaces.
The following forms of dress are unacceptable:
- Shirts without any form of collar or are damaged and/or badly worn
- Track suit pants or shorts
- Work wear or work shoes which are dirty, damaged and/or badly worn
- Singlets/tank tops or shirts with excessively sized or any offensive or controversial slogans
- Beach wear, brief shorts or lycra style pants/shorts
- Jeans which are dirty or damaged. Styles with damage due to original design will be assessed on a case by case basis, however excessive or extensive holes or transparency will be refused.
- Thongs or ‘flip flops’
Are there practice facilities?
Aston Hills boasts the full range of practice facilities, including a chipping and putting area and a healthy driving range – practice balls can be purchased from the pro shop.
Hitting driver is fine here, but the range does hug the course a shade tightly and might make a few patrons nervous about wayward practice shots.
Nonetheless, Aston Hills has everything you need for a solid warm-up before hitting the first tee.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
A large restaurant overlooks the first tee and provides lunch service from 11am to 2.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as well as the occasional dinner.
Outside of these times you can still have a beer poured and there are several bar snacks on offer to cap off your round.
Price for 18 holes:
- Monday-Friday: Adults $42
- Saturday: Adults $42
- Sunday/Public Holidays: $42
- Juniors 17 and Under: $22
- Member’s guest: $30
Price for 9 holes:
- Monday-Friday: Adults $26
- Saturday: Adults $26
- Sunday/Public Holidays: $26
- Juniors 17 and Under: $19
- Member’s guest: $18
- Winter after 3pm: $26 (9 or 18 holes)
- Autumn/Spring after 3pm: $26 (9 or 18 holes)
- Summer after 4pm: $26 (9 or 18 holes)
Aston Hills Golf Club truly is a tale of two nines – the longer front nine contains two Par 5s and a scarcity of bunkers, while the back nine is free of Par 5s, is shorter, but is bunkered more heavily.
If you’re in the market for nine holes, use this information wisely to determine whether you go the front or back route.
What it lacks in length, the course makes up for in accessibility and country charm, albeit only a short trip from Adelaide and hugged by housing developments.
Aston Hills may lack the polish of a truly classy country course like Mount Compass, but its value, welcoming nature and all-round ability to tick all the boxes makes it a course well worth experiencing.
For more details about Aston Hills Golf Club, visit their website.
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