Some weekends, Sunday rolls around and you need some fresh air after a few too many gins the night before – what better way to fix that hangover than a gentle round golf?
Or maybe, you might simply be a little time poor and have just enough time to sneak in a quick nine holes.
Either way: you want a course that’s easy to navigate, no fuss and has adjacent fairways waiting for your wayward tee shot.
Well, we may have just found the perfect spot for you.
Mawson Lakes Golf Club has been a solid northern suburbs performer since an overhaul in 2012.
Located a short drive from Adelaide’s CBD via Main North Road, it sits within the suburb’s sporting precinct, tucked amongst soccer fields, footy ovals, a creek and a constant flow of planes from the nearby Parafield airport.
The course comprises nine holes with dual tee blocks and a modest 5380m layout that does little to send shivers down the spine.
But sometimes in golf we need to boost the confidence or catch up with a friend, and Mawson Lakes provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
With a passionate members base and newly-employed loyalty cards, Mawson Lakes Golf Club is friendly and charming without being a visual glamour: a classic club for those who love a yarn and a bash while walking the fairways.
Weave through the four-wheel drives that have just deposited half an under 14s soccer side at one of the surrounding ovals (if you’re playing on Saturday or Sunday) and you’ll pull into a spacious car park.
To the left is a short driving range which is one step above a cow paddock in terms of condition, but nonetheless provides a warm up place – just remember to bring your old balls, as the club does not provide any to practice with.
Be sure to leave the two iron or driver in the bag when using the range or risk rocketing a stinger head-height across the third hole – a play that will likely see the family of one of the older members needing to enact their will.
Wander into the clubhouse and make your way to the bar where one of the members will collect your green fees and spin you a yarn about some AFL player he clearly doesn’t know the name of.
Humour him for a bit, then head to the putting green straight out from the clubhouse veranda.
There is an honesty box for green fees when the clubhouse isn’t manned, but someone will be present most of the time so you can tap your card to pay.
A pair of nets sit just to the left of the well-paved path that leads to the first hole, offering a final chance to grease the swing.
A surprise awaits on the first tee, a Par 3 of all things, to kick off the round.
Everything from a dirty fat shot to one out the teeth can still be resurrected for a par on what is a fairly gentle opening hole.
The remainder of the round moves through another Par 3, a healthy Par 5 and several, generally short Par 4s, with the exception of the hardest on the course, the eighth, stretching out to 401m on your first trip around the layout.
As easy as this may sound, the hole lengths will make you think, with some water hazards and out of bounds enough for many players to leave the head cover on their driver more than a couple of times.
Just be prepared for some patchy lies in the fairway and unpredictable ones in the rough.
The course can get a bit bare, muddy and hard when you stray too far away from the short grass, but remember what you’re paying for – for $20 or less, don’t expect Kooyonga-kept conditions.
Your journey culminates in a drivable finishing Par 4, but admittedly there’s little incentive to take a lash at it (apart from ego, of course).
Mark your card and head in for a beer.
Considering the nine-hole layout with little variation between front and back, options are scarce when selecting the best three on the course.
If settling upon a top three was a life and death scenario, you could mount a case for the second Par 3 and two of the Par 4s making the cut.
The healthiest of the two Par 3s, measuring 160 metres on the first trip around.
It will take a deceptive amount of club to get on the back tier if that’s where the pin resides, and a bunker short left will punish a poor strike.
If you’re overly shaky off the tee, maybe wait and let any cars pass by on the road running to the left.
It shouldn’t be in play, but when you’re off a handicap of 25 or more, there’s no limit to who, or what, can be in danger.
Par is a good score here; five is no anomaly either.
The second of back to back 283m Par 4s leaves you with a choice off the tee: take driver and leave yourself a bump and run in, or lay up with an iron just short of the waiting fairway bunker.
If you’re prone to go right with the big stick it’s a fairly safe play, although slice too far and your wedge game will be tested by a pesky pump shed in your line.
Left is bad, with a water hazard all too happy to force a reload.
Find the green in two and you’ll be left with a fairly flat, sluggish putt that may well result in a birdie.
Mawson Lakes closes with an enticing 257m Par 3, even less as the crow flies across the corner.
You won’t need to fly trees or hazards, just muster up a 240m straight drive and you’ll be up around the green complex.
Stray left and you’ll hammer the greenskeeper’s shed; go right and a straightforward approach from the eighth fairway offers little to no punishment.
Take iron straight down the chute and you’ll likely walk away with a better result than driver would have delivered.
Pace of play/tee time availability
Tee times are plentiful on Sundays when Mawson Lakes does most of its visitor business.
The club recommends holding off until 3.30pm on Saturdays with the members out in force, but ring ahead, they’ll likely get you on from around 2pm onwards.
Tuesday mornings and most of Wednesday are off limits with more members’ competitions.
Mawson Lakes sees healthy traffic but not enough that you’ll be held up too badly, if at all.
Slower groups step off to the side with relieving regularity here and acknowledge that wasting people’s time is a sure-fire way to see them never return.
How welcome are visitors?
Mawson Lakes Golf Club is extremely welcoming and provides a country feel with the old boys behind the bar and faux wood grain lined beer fridges.
The introduction of a visitors’ loyalty card shows a clear desire to entice the public to come by for a round, not push them away.
The Sunday crowd is often made up of blokes in that 20-40-year-old bracket who want a quick nine holes and a welcoming atmosphere, something Mawson Lakes provides in droves.
Is there a dress code?
The club asks only for neat, acceptable, non-offensive attire.
It does have a devoted membership base and they shouldn’t have to stare at a rude high vis singlet as they add up their points.
Avoid thongs, singlets and trackpants and you’ll find it hard to go wrong – mind you, I’ve seen people with track pants plenty enough to suggest you won’t get turned away for wearing them. At least not on Sundays.
Are there practice facilities?
A practice green sits straight in front of the clubhouse with ample room to practice a few chips.
Across the car park dwells a short range (150m or so) but without clubhouse range balls on offer it rarely sees use.
A pair of nets shoots off from the path to the first and are embraced by many players trying to find that sweet spot before the first swing of the afternoon.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
The clubhouse has a full bar, open for the loser to buy the first round for their smug opponent.
Some basic snacks like chips and chocolate bars are also available, but there’s no established kitchen or a-la-carte menu prepped for a sit-down meal.
A quick beer or two is all you’ll really need as the clubhouse doesn’t exactly reek of class and hospitality.
There is a TV for the footy though, one must admit, but be prepared for someone to give you a running commentary.
Price for 18 holes:
- Monday: $20
- Tuesday-Sunday: $22
- Juniors: $15
Price for 9 holes:
- Monday: $13
- Tuesday-Sunday: $15
- Juniors: $10
Mawson Lakes Golf Club is a quiet achiever in a sleepy area of the soon to be water-logged marshland in Adelaide’s north.
While it’s afloat, it offers a fantastic nine-hole layout for any casual Sunday golfer.
The conditioning is fair and greens are slow, but what you get is reflected in a very reasonable green fee.
The club has plenty of knockabout members and are clearly appreciative of the visitor income to help keep their course running.
If you want a tune up, relaxing social round or just to see something a bit different, Mawson Lakes is well worth a look.
For more details about Mawson Lakes Golf Club, visit their website.
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