South Australia’s self-proclaimed ‘most picturesque golf course’ comes out the gates with a concerningly low par of 67 and remarkably short 18-hole journey of just 4773 metres.
Vital statistics like these set off the gimmick alarm, but could The Stirling Golf Club prove us wrong and punch remarkably above its weight?
A concerning range of words spring to mind when reminiscing about this course: odd, short and confused.
The layout winds through dense Adelaide Hills foliage with rises and falls that are certainly easy on the eye, but do little to convince players of the lofty statements bandied around on its club website.
The car park and pro shop are neat and quaint, giving newcomers reason for optimism. However, after the short stroll to the first tee, many will start scratching their heads and return to this state of confusion all too regularly over the next four hours of their round.
The course is maintained well enough and anyone and everyone is welcome for a modest green fee, but the course’s routing leaves some incredibly weak holes, yet also some remarkably good ones sprinkled throughout.
If you’re looking for a classic meat and potatoes par 72, keep scrolling, but for a unique and scenic round with mates, The Stirling could well provide.
The Stirling is super short with a crazy low par of 67, which is underwhelming given its presentation and boasting as a bona fide quality course.
While there are several challenging and traditionally lengthy holes over the journey, the first, it has to be said, is not a great start.
An obscenely uphill 207m Par 4 causes the alarm bells to ring early, although the following stretch of holes are more conventional in nature.
Unfortunately, these frustratingly short Par 4s bob up on several occasions, leaving players surprised at how unsatisfying driving it through the green on a short four-shotter can be.
The scenery does offer some rolling hills and beautiful aesthetics, and one can only imagine the colour palette autumn leaves would bring.
But these tall, well-established trees also play the role of the villain, obscuring any views of distance valleys, leaving it a distant place-getter to other Adelaide courses like Mount Osmond Golf Club.
This being said, pleasant surprises will jump up, with water, bridges, downhill tee shots and raised greens creating holes of great character and beauty.
It’s just a shame the all too regular weaker ones are the norm, rather than the exception.
As a collective 18, The Stirling Golf Club doesn’t stack up against a swag of more consistent courses in the hills, let alone South Australia as a whole.
Despite this, some cracking holes do poke their head up and a blistering drive on one of these will still make for a happy memory.
An elevated tee provides the opportunity to get one down there long, but a seasonally wet or dry drain runs through the fairway towards the far end of the landing area.
Roll through here in summer, you’ll risk losing a ball if it’s wet.
As you walk to your ball and the green is exposed at the end of the fairway dog-legging to the right, you will uncover a picturesque, yet intimidating second shot.
A short iron should be all you need to reach the green, but a pond collects anything fired into the bank short of the green.
Find the dancefloor and you’ll thoroughly enjoy the trot over the footbridge to pick your line on a breaking green.
The 446m 16th boasts being the only Par 5 on the course.
A blind tee requires a drive slightly right of centre, but carry the first hill far enough and you can get out there a long, long way.
Take full advantage of the roll and you may only need a seven-iron for the approach, but go left into the water and dreams of an eagle will soon be dashed.
Missing the green long or left will make for shaky chips towards danger, so a lay-up may not be such a weak option after all.
Beware the fast, sloping green – putt true and make the most of a real birdie opportunity.
The course finishes strong with a wide, undulating Par 4 that has real claims to be considered the best on the course.
Tee off downhill and, depending on the kick, you’ll either plug against a mound or bounce down there a long way.
Your second shot will play slightly uphill towards the clubhouse and a green cut into the left sloping hill. Finish strongly and enjoy finding some flat land back at the pro-shop.
Pace of play/tee time availability
You’ll have little trouble securing a tee time so long as you avoid the traditional Saturday morning comp timeslot – this appears to be set aside for the members.
Sundays will see many a casual golfer grab a leisurely nine holes, so the course is unlikely to get busy enough to cause headaches.
How welcome are visitors?
The Stirling is a club fully embracing of the public and welcomes newcomers with open arms.
Booking ahead online is an option, but staff on course will more than likely find you a slot as long as you don’t turn up during peak times.
Is there a dress code?
Nothing appears to be specified by the club, but considering the course hosts competitions and a loyal member base, decent shorts, sandshoes and an untucked polo short wouldn’t be too much to ask.
It may be short in length, but this is still a quality course – and as such, you should dress appropriately.
Are there practice facilities?
Practice beforehand unless your weakness is the flat stick, as a practice green near the first tee is the extent of your options.
The course lacks a driving range, which is a letdown for those who like to hit some balls to warm up before their round.
Can I buy food/drinks after the round?
The Stirling clubhouse is perched overlooking the 18th green.
Opening hours outside of the weekend are scarce, but if you keep an eye out on the club’s social pages you may decide to hang around after a twilight bash to grab a meal and catch a band with the notoriously social locals.
There are few, if any, golf courses in Adelaide that host more live music acts than The Stirling.
Price for 18 holes:
- Public: $38
- Member’s guest: $33
Price for 9 holes:
- Public: $33
- Member’s guest: $28
- Green fees for 2 players cart hire: Weekdays $89, Weekends/Public Holidays $99
- Twilight golf for 2 players and cart hire after 3pm: Weekdays $50, Weekends/Public Holidays $50
The Stirling Golf Club is a ‘nearly, but not quite’ track that is likely a victim of its tight surrounds.
The collection of holes includes too many weak, odd or uninteresting layouts, yet golfers will still be pleasantly surprised by the odd gem that leaps out from the pack.
If you don’t like gimmicks on a golf course and need Par 5s on both the front and back nines, The Stirling is a course you should actively avoid – despite its eye-catching scenery.
If, however, a relaxed, cheap, stress-free round marks high in your book, consider The Stirling Golf Club for your next leisurely midweek or weekend round.
For more details about The Stirling Golf Club, visit their website.
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