With its magnificent surf beaches, unspoilt national parks, and world-class shopping and dining, Noosa is a great place to visit at any time – even if golf’s not your game.
But if you’re the sort of traveller who packs his golf clubs as a matter of course, it’s the holiday destination of a lifetime.
Noosa Heads – one of Australia’s most popular tourist towns – is situated at the northern end of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, about a 90-minute drive from Brisbane. It’s world famous for its surf and laidback casual elegance. And, of course, for its sublime weather.
Just a couple of kilometres from the beaches and iconic Hastings Street – where high-class restaurants jostle with fashion boutiques for the attention of sun-bathed strollers – lies Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort.
It’s an oasis of serenity set amidst the tropical bushland of the Noosa hinterland – the brainchild of Noosa’s Starkey family, who spent 20 years carving a magnificent golf resort out of the forest, and surrounding it with a charming residential community of Tuscany-inspired villas.
You approach the resort by following a narrow, tree-lined avenue through a lush rainforest to be greeted by a classic European-inspired clubhouse.
On the right, as you enter the resort, is the Golf Shop where, apart from balls, clubs and golf equipment, you’ll find examples of fine sporting fashionwear – the sort of gear you’d normally expect to find in Melbourne or Sydney boutiques.
Tucked just out of sight is the Spa – a temple of peace and serenity which provides facilities and treatments to relax the senses and nurture the body, mind and spirit. Some guests make the trip to Noosa Springs with no other intent than to pamper themselves in this extraordinary place.
But for most of us, it’s the golf course that brings us here.
The par 72, 6180m course is a golfer’s delight. Designed by course architect Graham Papworth, it is regularly ranked among the top 100 Australian courses.
Golfers have the choice of walking a course which is generally flat, or riding in one of the resort’s 70 electric carts. The carts occupants are encouraged to download Noosa Springs’ new free app, which includes a flyover of each hole, and full GPS functionality.
Each December, the PGA of Australia swoops on Noosa Springs to host one of the Q School qualifying tournaments that determines who gets the chance to play on the Australasian Tour.
That doesn’t mean that Noosa Springs is a monster course, far from it.
It’s tight, to be sure, with fairways weaving their way through trees and between the 10 lakes which come into play on 12 of the holes, placing a real premium on accuracy and precision. The course is not particularly long, and players of varying degrees of skill will find it challenging, rewarding and enjoyable.
One of the signature holes is the par-five 15th. At 505m from the blue tees, it’s the longest hole on the course. But what makes it intriguing is the creek that runs across the fairway about 190m from the tee.
Players can, of course, lay up with a four iron or five iron, to a distance from where it’s quite possible to reach the green in three safe shots, and putt for a birdie.
But ego invariably comes into the choice of tee shot, and the challenge of pulling out a driver and trying to smash the ball across the hazard becomes almost irresistible – with sometimes unfortunate results.
Two holes later is the beautiful 17th – a comparatively short par four at 325m.
Water is obvious in front of the tee box and on the left; not so apparent on the right, where a line of trees and the natural slope of the land disguises a watery grave for any ball that is pushed or sliced.
The hole demands a long, straight drive, followed by a precise short iron to a large green protected by water on the left and bunkers on the right. Behind the green is a cluster of beautiful new homes – some still being built in a gated precinct known as The Oasis.
It is the very last offering of home sites in the Noosa Springs residential community – all with frontages to the golf course and a year’s free membership to the resort for the lucky owner – and only five remain unsold.
That leaves only the 18th hole to play – another par five, bordered on either side by thick, tropical forest, with bunkers strategically placed to catch anything but a really accurate drive.
Beyond the 18th green, and in front of the terraced clubhouse, are the practice facilities – a huge green, bunkers and a driving range where, most times, you’ll find teaching pro Peter Heiniger, one of Australia’s most highly regarded coaches, conducting classes.
Peter’s right hand man is Hamish Robertson, a Kiwi who competed on the Australian and New Zealand Tour before becoming a full-time teaching professional.
Hamish is still very handy on the course, though. In February he returned to play in the New Zealand PGA at Manawatu, and followed that up by winning the PGA Professionals Championship of Southeast Queensland at Sanctuary Cove in mid-May.
After a round, most golfers choose to visit the terrace bar for a cool drink, a coffee or a snack. Or they can dine at Noosa Spring’s acclaimed Relish restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch every day and dinner most nights.
Noosa Springs offers a range of discounts for visiting golfers and golfing groups. For example, groups of 12 or more golfers can play this superb layout for just $99, which includes an electric cart, and lunch.
There is also a range of stay and play packages that offer remarkable value, and during school holidays kids get to play free.
The accommodation at Noosa comprises one-bedroom and two-bedroom, self-contained apartments, situated only a short stroll from the clubhouse and Golf Shop. For added space and luxury, guests can lease one of a small number of rental villas in The Oasis precinct, a couple of hundred metres away.
Guests get unlimited use of Noosa Springs’ fitness centre, heated swimming pool, and access to the tennis courts, where expert coaching staff are available to help improve anybody’s game.
With its network of concrete paths, and because of the region’s tropical climate, golf is played all year round at Noosa Springs – even on those rare occasions when it rains.