Long Reef Golf Club – Long On Reward, Never Short Of Satisfaction

It is the first day of a new decade.

The annual Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks extravanza has again provided a spectacle hard to be matched by any city in the world, and this despite the controversy of allowing the $6.5m pyrotechnic show to go ahead when there is so many devestating and life-taking bushfires still raging out-of-control across the State of New South Wales.

On the first day of 2020, the effects of the bushfires is clearly noticeable with a smoke haze again hanging over Sydney.

I’ve been back in Australia for a number of weeks and along with long-time great friends Michael Court and Pat Carmody, we find our way to Long Reef Golf Club.

Sydney’s Long Reef GC on a clear day – Looks stunning against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean

This first year of a new decade will mark the 99th anniversary of the club that began as a 9-hole course in 1921 on former farming land owned up until 1912 by the Salvation Army before coming under the administration of the local Warringah Shire Council.

Since 1921, Long Reef has faced many issues the like that most golf clubs would never face including having the share the course during World War 11 with the Australian Army who used the course for artillery practice while one of the biggest issues was sand invasion off the ajoining Dee Why Beach.

I first began tackling Long Reef when I first began playing golf and that I have to admit was now some 40-years ago.

Long Reef Golf Club is located about 20 kilometers  from the heart of Australia’s greatest city on the famed northern beaches of Sydney.

Joining my on 1st January, 2020 were very good friends, Michael Court (Inside Golf – centre) and Pat Carmody

First-time visitors to Long Reef Golf Club would look on the course as a links course given it is surrounded by water on two sides.

But clearly remembering the definition of a links course as long time ago drummed into me by Gerry Ruddy, and the son of famed Irish-born course designer Pat Ruddy, a links course is that area (or the link) between the sea and the arable land.

So, let’s correct one misconception and Long Reef is not a links course.

But what Long Reef may lack in definition it easily makes up as it plays very much like a links course given its location by the ocean and being so open and exposed to the elements.

(View off the 3rd green at Long Reef Golf Club – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

And like many links gems, such as Royal Portrush, Portstewart, Ballybunion, Royal Aberdeen and Crail, Long Reef commands stunning views with Palm Beach visible to the north and Manly to the south.

Former five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson labelled the course laid out on the Long Reef headland as – “one of the best sites of any golf course in Sydney”.

History records Long Reef began as a 9-hole course and was expanded to 18 holes in 1927 by Dan Soutar, a Scottish-born professional who captured four Australian PGA Championships between 1905 and 1910.

Soutar’s other designs include other Sydney courses in Concord and Elanora.  He also designed the famed Sandbelt gem Kingston Heath for which he was paid the princely sum of £25 yet Dr. Alister McKenzie was paid ten times that to design Kingston Heath’s bunkers.

Long Reef was altered significantly after World War II but then remained virtually unchanged until the mid-’90s when Thomson’s design company installed pot bunkers and creative mounding to several holes that helped to toughen the layout and improve the overall golfing experience at Long Reef.

Looking back down the 5th hole and the distinctive Sydney beach front sight of the Norfolk pine trees in the distance . (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Long Reef offers a great test of golf and a golf course where you should get to use every club in your bag starting from the 477-meter par five first hole, where you must avoid a creek running right across the fairway about the 200-meter mark, to the last where standing on the tee you are reminded of

Thomson’s work in adding a number of bunkers you have to thread you way through.

Fortunately, one of the holes untouched by change is the short 315-meter par four, third hole.   It’s a classic dog-leg left but with a blind tee shot to a raised green and where local knowledge is clearly a big benefit.

On reaching the fourth tee the remaining 14 holes at Long Reef are laid out before you on a giant canvas with a mix of lush green fairways, golden sand bunkers and also a little water, and with the water coming well into play at four, five, six and seven.

Looking into the 7th green at Long Reef GC – Photo -www.golfbytourmiss.com

However, after the appetizer of the opening eight holes you tuck right into Long Reef’s main course commencing at the ninth where your back is to the clubhouse and the slightly uphill par five hole leads you right to the heart and joy of Long Reef.

The 10th is a tough uphill par three while the 335-meter par four, the 11th a downhill dog-leg right hole of some 374 meters while the slighly uphill 12th teases you with a great array of bunkering and mounds around the putting surface.

Reaching the short 138-meter 13th hole is another one of those joys in playing Long Reef and again a reminder to golf course designers that a par three doesn’t have to measure 200-meters to be challenging.

If there is a signature hole at Long Reef it would have to be the 415-meter downhill par four 16th, and the longest par four on the golf course.

Looking back down the ninth hole at Long Reef GC – Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com

 

The view from any of the tees is easily worth the green fee looking down as you do over nearby Dee Why Beach.

If you have time and if you are not holding up the group behind then a short walk from the 16th tee to the top of headland just meters behind you is a must.

The 17th hole is 15 meters shorter than 16 but a whole lot harder with the Pacific Ocean to the left and a whole lot of other trouble to the right but depending on the conditions at the time a good drive and an equally decent fairway wood or long iron should get you home in two.

That then leaves the last and as I mentioned earlier it’s a tee shot where you need to find the middle of the fairway or face a Peter Thomson experience at getting yourself out of one of his Open Championship like bunkers.

The sea spray making its presence felt at Long Reef GC – View from 12th green – Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com

The great aspect about Long Reef is not only its stunning location and being able to ‘open your shoulders’ unlike so many courses in Sydney but the superb year-round condition of this A-Grade course.  The lush kikuyu fairways are like carpet and so good that you could take a full-blooded iron shot and not leave a mark

There are some great golf courses in Sydney, as evident by the Australian Open host foursome of Royal Sydney, The Australian, The Lakes and New South Wales but for a golfing experience on a magnificently maintained course along with unparalleled views of many of Sydney’s stunning beaches Long Reef is never short on reward.



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