In October 2020, some mates and I ventured down the Fleurieu Peninsula for a golfing weekend as part of a social club we are members of.
The plan was to play Mount Compass Golf Course on Saturday and Links Lady Bay on Sunday – a pairing worthy of top 100 in Australia honours.
To our dismay, Mount Compass was soon after cancelled on the itinerary (they weren’t able to accommodate a group the size of ours during the members’ morning competition) and replaced by New Terry Golf Resort.
The replacement course was met with confusion by me and others: as South Australian natives and dwellers of Adelaide, this was one course we had never heard of.
Allegedly big in the early 2000s, New Terry Golf Resort previously went by the name Wirrina Cove Golf Club.
Attached to a struggling resort (and extremely tired and dated at the time of writing), Google searches landed us on their website, with pictures of accommodation and the bar nobly trying to apply lipstick to a pig – with minimal success, I might add.
However, in time, we located the course tour and gallery on the resort’s homepage, and soon after hope for this track actually being half-decent started to simmer away inside.
Of all the pictures we saw before our arrival, those of the golf course did in fact do the real thing justice.
Views of rolling hills and turquoise blue water were not faked, as the scenes on the course were equally as impressive.
Despite its rarely talked about reputation, New Terry golf course boasts remarkable views and conditioning that leaves it snapping at the heels of Adelaide’s ‘second tier’ courses, such as West Beach Parks, North Adelaide or even West Lakes.
It is moderately long, likely contributing to a generously high slope rating, while being open and forgiving enough to keep wayward shots in play.
That applies, however, predominantly to the longer holes, with the one-shotters consistently over 150 metres and requiring water carries, providing some of the greatest challenges on the course.
Initially, we were skeptical: if we hadn’t heard of this course, surely it can’t be much good? Would it merely be a warm-up round for Links Lady Bay?
Surprisingly, the golf weekend concluded with our round at New Terry Hotel and Golf Resort being a memorable experience, whilst, admittedly, still playing second fiddle to Links Lady Bay.
The Par 70, 5697-metre New Terry golf course boasts reasonable length (but nothing on the 425m Par 4 12th at Links Lady Bay), likely contributing to a relatively high difficulty without being overly tight.
The length of 380-odd metre Par 4s is actually mitigated quite strongly by elevated tee-offs, with many drives gaining an extra 20 metres of hangtime due to the fairway being situated well below the tee block.
Many of the holes lower to the fairway before raising once more up to the green, leading to a remarkable feeling that you continue to tee off to lowered fairways and rarely need to do the opposite.
Its coastal location means wind can be an influencing factor too, but as mentioned earlier, adjacent fairways provide common bail out options, so a slice or hook mightn’t ruin your hole.
Bunkering is challenging yet fair, with some holes still containing punishing rough and dense scrub if your miss is particularly bad.
The conditioning is hard to fault; greens roll true and are consistent, bunkers are fluffy, fairways are cut short and rough is adequate.
It all lacks the polish of the two notable courses on the peninsula – Mount Compass and Links Lady Bay – but the $40 price tag is reflective of the attention to detail the course may overlook.
The rises and falls of the Par 4s and 5s offer enough variety to keep golfers guessing, but relatively wide and tame landing areas and inviting green complexes don’t elicit a great deal of fear off the tee block and on approach.
The true beast of New Terry is its Par 3s, ranging from 145-165 metres.
They don’t sound overly long, but with prevailing head winds seemingly the norm, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for extra club.
They require long carries, with a hole like the fourth providing no real option but to hit the green, unless you wish to make a double.
For reference, in a round of 87 here, I double bogeyed all four Par 3s.
There are also opportunities to attack, with the highly reachable 416 metre Par 5 16th a genuine two shotter.
The green is well uphill, but, yet again, an elevated tee will help most golfers get within long iron range for their second.
Ultimately, there is enough variety, length and challenge to give golfers many a conundrum to navigate throughout their round.
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The feature holes here combine several elements including elevation, water (both on course and in the distance) and drivability.
A Par 3 and two Par 4s take honours for the best three out there at New Terry.
The second is the perfect remedy to early worries raised by a rather weak first, giving pundits their first look at some of the common, redeeming features of New Terry Golf Resort.
Measuring an imposing 399 metres off the blues, fairway bunkers sprinkle the landing zone, rendering anything settling on the beach a huge task to extricate onto the green.
The raised tee will see your drive sailing down to the fairway below, your first taste of this regularly reoccurring pleasure over the following 16 holes.
The trek back up to a raised green requires an extra club, with thin and long shots forgivingly captured by a ‘cauldron’ style green complex, making the dance floor relatively easy to find from the shorter grass.
Take a mental picture, as this style of hole is the defining feature of New Terry.
The first of four Par 3s on course, the fourth is an imposing sight when standing at the tee.
To hit the green requires a relatively long carry over a gully and creek; left and right misses offer as little forgiveness as a miss short.
An extra club and a good strike is a must here, yet the green is narrow and wide, making it even more challenging to hit.
Make sure you get over the water and somewhere around the green safely, make a bogey at worst and you’ve probably beaten the majority of the field on one of the tougher Par 3s I’ve encountered.
Measuring 294 metres in length off the back, an aggressive line over trees will cut the corner and make the green – or, more likely, a greenside bunker – reachable with driver.
If safety is your play, an iron should find the short stuff as the fairway is wide and banked to the left-hand side.
A wayward slice with a five iron won’t find OB right, but a driver will, so if cutting the trees, ensure your fade doesn’t turn into a damaging slice.
Drive something to pitch range and your par isn’t guaranteed yet – a subtly sloping green will happily accept a three-putt and leave you walking away with a bogey.
Pace of play/tee time availability
No need to stress about finding a timeslot here, with availability completely open to all, unsurprising given the course makes up part of the modest resort.
We played Saturday and did book ahead given our party of eight, but walk-ups would just as easily have wandered onto the first at 10am with few others to fight with.
It pays to book if you are driving down from Adelaide’s CBD, but you should have no problems playing when it suits you best.
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How welcome are visitors?
Being part of a resort, the course is highly welcoming with everyone from seasoned campaigner to 40-handicap hackers accepted and ushered onto the course.
The track is quiet enough that families willing to part with a green fee and staying at the resort will be just as able to knock about the course and have some fun.
Is there a dress code?
It isn’t Regency Park Golf Course where anything goes, so high vis workwear may turn some heads, but anything from shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers through to Tiger’s Sunday Red won’t be out of place at New Terry.
Dress like a golfer, not like you’re going to the beach, and you’ll be just fine.
Are there practice facilities?
Yes, but don’t be expecting a 250m range and sprawling short game areas.
Near the clubhouse are two hitting nets and a practice green that allows for some chipping.
The practice bunker was poorly conditioned when we were there, but may be usable at other times of the year.
The nets had some stiff rope mesh and targets to capture your balls, but did damage a Callaway Chrome Soft fresh out of the packet I was using, so consider warming up with a lake ball or ‘Hot Dot’, not a premium nut.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
The beauty of playing golf at a resort course is the fully-stocked bar and restaurant just a stone’s throw from the 18th green.
With the course moving under Chinese ownership a couple of years back, you’re presented with the unique experience of a post-round Chinese banquet on offer in Heysen’s Restaurant.
When preparing to play a course barely an hour-and-a-half from Adelaide that you’ve never heard of, its easy to assume you haven’t heard of it because it’s not worth knowing about.
New Terry eviscerates this thinking, providing one of the most surprising golfing experiences I’ve had in recent years.
A quiet achiever, New Terry is well maintained, both challenging and forgiving, all the while providing occasional views of pure blue South Australia coastline.
If wandering down the Fleurieu Peninsula to play the likes of Mount Compass or Links Lady Bay, you’d be crazy not to fit a round in at New Terry as well.
It may even be worth a trip in itself, and if you give it a chance, you may just be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
For more details about New Terry Hotel and Golf Resort, visit their website.
Leave your own review in the comments section below!
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