What if I told you there was a golf course in the south of Adelaide that offers you scenic views of the coastline, but doesn’t cost more than $30 to play?
You’d probably say I’m full of you know what, right? Wrong!
Marion Park Golf Club, located just half an hour’s drive from the CBD, offers exactly that.
Honestly, this publicly accessible nine-hole track is super impressive.
When pulling up in the car park outside the tiny clubhouse for the first time, I can’t say my expectations were all that high.
I’d had a look at the price of green fees on the course website before deciding to go and play, and figured at $26 for 18 holes the quality of the fairways and greens would reflect the bargain basement cost.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The first three holes have spectacular views over some of Adelaide’s most sought-after coastline – but you’re made to earn them by pushing your buggy up the steep slopes in order to reach the summit.
If you can afford it, cruising the course in a cart would make for a more leisurely experience – but the undulating terrain is by no means too exhaustive and can be enjoyed by golfers of all ages and fitness levels.
In the club’s own words, Marion Park was established in 1980 “by a group of southern suburb locals who wanted to play in club without the high costs and with a friendly and social atmosphere … and continues to provide all the benefits of larger golf club memberships but without the high cost commitment or lack of flexibility.”
It’s fair to say that mission statement and core values still rings true 40 years later.
This truly is a course for golfers of all abilities – and everyone is welcome.
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I was satisfied by the condition Marion Park is kept in.
The rolling fairways are lush and well-manicured, while the couch greens – which I’ve been told roll extremely fast in summer – are also in good nick. I counted only one that was a touch patchy.
As mentioned earlier, the opening hole takes you straight up a steep slope and sets you a challenge off the first tee, as the landing area is quite narrow – even a seemingly good shot could catch the slope and end up in the rough.
If you’ve just come from a long lunch at one of the many nearby Glenelg pubs, and aren’t in the best physical shape, that chicken parmigiana might well be sitting in your throat by the time you reach the green.
Not to worry, suck in a few deep breaths, enjoy the magnificent view and steel yourself for the remainder of the round.
Holes two and three comprise a Par 3 and Par 5 – neither of which are overly difficult, but with the stunning backdrop providing an endless distraction that’s probably a good thing.
The middle part of the round heads back down the hill, winding its way through a short Par 3 and three consecutive Par 4s – two of which are drivable for those who like to live life in the fast lane.
A second Par 5 – which is a rarity for a nine-hole layout – sets you heading back towards the clubhouse, while the final hole is another straightaway Par 4 that is also reachable in one big hit.
Measured at just 5284m long for 18 holes, as a Par 69 layout, there’s plenty of opportunities to crack out the boom stick and have a swipe, with the added comfort that an errant drive will likely find safety on an adjacent fairway.
This truly is a course to enjoy with your mates without having to worry if you’re hitting the ball a bit wayward.
With only nine holes to choose from, picking my favourite three at Marion Park Golf Club was a little challenging.
There weren’t really many holes that made me go ‘wow’, but there are some clear standouts as far as enjoyment levels go.
As I alluded to earlier, this opening hole is a great introduction for players visiting Marion Park Golf Club for the first time.
The fairway is undulating and tight – and also guarded by a left bunker – meaning you must place a premium on accuracy.
But if you’re thinking of pulling out an iron, think again – not only will your golfing buddies take the piss out of you for laying up, the length of the hole (374m) means you can kiss your chances of reaching the green in regulation goodbye.
Once you do make it onto the putting surface, be sure to stop for a minute and take in the beautiful view of the beach – it’s honestly one of the best sights on any golf course in Adelaide, and is worth every bit of the small fee you paid for your round.
The second Par 5 on the course stretches only 436m meaning longer hitters are right in the mix to hit the green in two, should they find the short grass with their tee shot.
While the hole itself is interesting enough – it runs over the hill, before doglegging slightly to the left – the views out over the ocean and nearby residential areas as you stroll down the fairway are an endearing quality.
The green isn’t massive and is surrounded by bunkers, meaning laying up and opting for a short iron, or wedge, into the dancefloor is a sound and safe play.
There are a number of ways to tackle this hole which, coupled with the nice scenery and challenging fairway undulations, makes it an enjoyable one.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – what’s not to love about a drivable Par 4?
Like Mawson Lakes Golf Club in Adelaide’s north, the final hole on the course is reachable with one well-struck tee shot, meaning you can end your round feeling like a king if you manage to lob one onto the putting surface, or like a dunce if you spray it and ruin your score.
The latter result will undoubtedly have you asking yourself: ‘why didn’t I lay up?!’ Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
The tee block and green are elevated, with the fairway residing in the valley below ready to catch your ball should you choose to play it safe with an iron.
At just 244m off the back tees, it’s a great hole to have a side bet with your buddies on whether you can land your drive on the green or not.
Be a boss, smoke that sucker, drain the eagle putt and walk off a few bucks richer – with bragging rights that will last a lifetime (Note: Actual results may vary).
Pace of play/tee time availability
Marion Park, like most nine-hole golf courses in Adelaide, experiences the bulk of its visitor traffic on the weekends, and after 4pm on weekdays.
During these times, you can expect things to be slower going than if you were to tee it up at midday from Monday-Friday.
The club does run competitions on Saturday mornings, but any time after that is fair game.
Unlike some of the higher-end Adelaide courses with bigger member numbers, Marion Park does not require you to book a tee time.
However, it’s still recommended to ring ahead to get a feel for how busy the course is before rocking up and getting stuck behind groups upon groups of old boys who are out and about for their midweek seniors’ bash.
Personally, I didn’t find pace of play to be an issue.
How welcome are visitors?
As a public course, Marion Park relies on visitor traffic to keep the doors open – so, naturally, players from scratch golfers to weekend hackers are more than welcome to come and play.
During my visit, the clubhouse attendant was friendly and happy to answer questions I had about competition times and got my round under way with minimal fuss.
There is no feeling of pretentiousness about this golf course – it really does feel like a place you can enjoy a round, chunk a few shots (fixing your divots as you go, obviously) and laugh at a few air swings without feeling like you’re being judged by nosey members.
Is there a dress code?
If there is a dress code at Marion Park, I didn’t see it in action – mind you, I did play my round midweek.
While the club website doesn’t explicitly outline what you need to wear on the course, the general standard is neat and tidy collared shirt with shorts/pants.
If you’re playing in the Saturday competition, a collared shirt is a must – but outside of that, you won’t get turned away for rocking up in a t-shirt.
In terms of footwear, any kind of closed shoes will do the job.
Just don’t wear thongs – number one, you’ll look like an idiot and number two, who honestly wears thongs on a golf course?
Are there practice facilities?
If you’re looking to warm up before your round, you’ll probably be disappointed by what’s on offer at Marion Park.
There is a no-frills putting green in front of the clubhouse where you can try and get a feel for the greens, but unfortunately, you’ll need to step up to the first tee cold as there is no driving range or hitting nets to speak of.
If there is one area the course could improve on, it’s the inclusion of some nets – while you can’t see where your ball is headed when hitting into them, you can at least loosen up a bit before staring down the challenging first fairway.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
The clubhouse is licenced to sell alcoholic beverages, so you and your posse can sink beers before, during or after your round – just be sure not to leave your empties scattered across the fairways.
There are also non-alcoholic drinks on offer, but in terms of food you won’t find much more than the odd chocolate bar to snack on.
If you want something more substantial after pounding your way around the course, it’s only a short 10-minute drive to Jetty Road in Glenelg where you can hit up the endless number of cafes and pubs to get your schnitter fix for the day.
If you’re looking for something closer, Marion Shopping Centre – with its bustling food court – will more than do the trick. You could even sneak in a post-round massage there.
Price for 18 holes:
- Monday: $12
- Tuesday-Friday: $23
- Weekends/Public Holidays: $26
- Under 18/Juniors: $17
Price for 9 holes:
- Monday: $12
- Tuesday-Friday: $18
- Weekends/Public Holidays: $21
- Under 18/Juniors: $12
If I could sum up Marion Park Golf Club in three words, they would be: views, valleys and value.
At the course’s highest point, players can gaze out over the coastline and forget all their troubles – pondering how they only paid $26 or less to wander the well-kept fairways for the afternoon.
While not overly long, each of the holes are undulating and require well-placed tee shots to shoot a low score – it’s challenging enough to keep even the single handicap golfer on their toes, but isn’t so intimidating that it deters the average player from returning for another round.
As far as nine-hole tracks go – when factoring in course condition, overall layout, difficulty, surrounding scenery and cost – Marion Park Golf Club is right up there as one of the best in Adelaide.
But don’t take my word for it: go and try it for yourself.
For more details about Marion Park Golf Course, visit their website.
Leave your own review in the comments section below!
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