Not all that long ago, Mount Compass Golf Course was the struggling Fleurieu Golf Club.
Falling out of condition, the mere existence of the course was unknown to many travelling by on the highway.
Fast forward to 2020 and new ownership and a Neil Crafter touch up has led to Mount Compass chiselling out top 100 honours in all of golf’s major publications.
Only an hour from Adelaide, the layout and conditioning are top notch, providing exceptional value for any punter looking for a weekend away from their home deck.
An early tee off will be rewarded with misty hills and curious kangaroos, leaving pilgrims wondering whether they have missed a turn and ended up on the Bellarine Peninsula.
By far the most satisfying element of this transformation is the ability of Mount Compass to stay humble.
There is no fuss when you arrive and check in, with the pro shop happy to sneak you on early if gaps in the field present.
But step onto the elevated first tee and you quickly come to realise that this course is worth making a fuss about.
Mount Compass Golf Course requires unwavering concentration with a full arsenal of defences at its disposal.
The course boasts over 80 refurbished bunkers with many capturing the links style with rugged and overgrown edges.
It’s a course where you’ll nearly plead for an errant shot to come to a sandy rest, as dense shrubbery can lead to some awkward lies and the legitimate chance of needing to take an unplayable.
Exercise enough will power to leave the big stick in the bag, and well-struck irons will set up comfortable approaches on several of Mount Compass’ shorter holes.
The design of the course is truly genius, with holes like the Par 4 third requiring multiple zaps with the rangefinder before you settle on a club.
Take driver and you’ll need to draw around the trees to avoid water.
Play an iron and the water will wait for you on the approach.
Short side yourself on many of the holes and prepare to duff your chip out of fear of finding hazards over the far side.
Another of Mount Compass’ pleasures is the variation the tees offer.
Play off the back and be prepared for long carries over swampy marsh. Play off the front and bring the bunkers into your landing zones.
But despite all of its challenges, Mount Compass has a remarkable ability to know when to pulse the accelerator and when to hit the brake.
After being faced with two or three tight holes, characterised by thick rough and drop offs into water hazards, you’ll be presented with an expansive double fairway, allowing players a chance to take a deep breath and a free swing.
The Par 3s aren’t without thought either, the shorter holes requiring an accurate wedge to avoid steep run offs, the longer requiring bullet like long irons that use the camber of the greens in order to hold.
Mount Compass is beautiful, challenging and undoubtedly damn good fun.
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Mount Compass uses the full kit bag to create several memorable holes that will have you booking your next round while you head to the car park.
Elevation, slopes, water and trees are combined beautifully to craft multiple unique holes routed through the dunes.
A 358 metre Par 4, this hole requires a tree hugging tee shot to avoid water to the right.
Don’t hug too tight though, as bunkers will claim anything straying to the left.
Play conservatively and a long carry over water will be needed to find any pin on the right-hand side of the green.
Land driver safely on the short grass and you’ll fancy putting one close if the pin is forgiving enough.
The Par 4 sixth will require thought, then commitment when standing over your ball, with numerous options at your disposal.
Fancy yourself a consistent driver and you’re encouraged to bite off a 150m-plus carry over marshland, setting up a flip with a wedge for your approach.
Shudder at the mere thought of a carry over water and play a long iron left of the trouble.
Just be prepared for another one into the green.
A longish Par 3 that requires a significant carry over water to get near any pin tucked in on the right.
If playing for safety is more your thing, a low iron shot from the elevated tee can traverse a sloped entry to the green and find the putting surface.
As appears to be the theme at Mount Compass, options are ever present, and low handicappers should be fancying their chance of a birdie, while hackers will be happy to play the angles and search for a well-earned par.
Pace of play/tee time availability
Despite a loyal member base, tee times are highly available with public access granted pretty much all of the time, including usually treasured Saturday morning slots.
The course runs smoothly with enough groups to provide a buzzing atmosphere, yet few enough that waits on the tee are rare.
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How welcome are visitors?
As mentioned above, Mount Compass is a course that embraces all comers.
A vibe of exclusivity is nowhere to be seen, with locals proud to showcase their asset that rivals the areas once dominant force of Links Lady Bay.
Jag an early tee off on a Sunday and it’s likely you’ll play the first few holes with the company of others that, after an early alarm, also wandered down the freeway to see what all the fuss is about.
Is there a dress code?
Mount Compass requires a respectful attire, with sneakers, neat shorts and a collared polo top more than sufficient.
You won’t be completely out of place with your full kit, but for a weekday social round I don’t know why you’d bother.
Are there practice facilities?
A slippery putting green sits near the first tee so you can eradicate those jitters prior to taking the plunge.
A lengthy range is also in action with everything up to and including driver having enough tarmac to work with. Range balls are available from the pro shop.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
The restaurant and bar are open Thursday to Sunday for lunch and Friday and Saturday nights for dinner.
A menu exceeding your standard ‘pub grub’ may well tempt you into making a day of it.
Takeaway options are also available if you want to make a quick departure without your stomach grumbling.
Price for 18 holes:
- Monday-Friday: $45 for individuals, $35 for pensioners, $15 for under 18
- Saturday-Sunday: $55 for individuals, $20 for under 18s
Corporate, Trade Day and Group rates available by prior arrangement – please contact the Clubhouse Office or Pro Shop to make bookings.
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At the risk of swooning over this course, but Mount Compass gets almost everything right in its pursuit to be a genuine player on the South Australian golfing stage.
The course is beautifully presented but maintains its rugged edge, melting into the surrounds as if it had been playing as is for decades.
High quality courses often come with a hefty price tag, but $50 is undeniably good value compared to the big four tracks in town.
Rather than close its doors and protect their asset, Mount Compass takes clear pride in what they’ve created and wants to share this with others.
All of this leaves Mount Compass Golf Course as one of the most enjoyable, accessible and memorable golfing experiences in South Australia.
For more details about Mount Compass Golf Course, visit their website.
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