Date: February 14, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Royal Adelaide has ‘wow’ factor


Tournament director Trevor Herden says the players are in love with Royal Adelaide as the countdown to the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open continues.

"The players are just saying 'wow','' Herden said. "They love it. These kinds of surfaces, that's all the players ask for week-by-week, and they've really got it this week.''

Royal Adelaide is celebrating its 125th year in 2017 and the sandbelt gem is in its pomp. Originally designed by its members, it was reworked in 1926 by the famous Scottish architect, Dr Alister Mackenzie, and then tweaked further by the Canadian Tom Doak in 2013. The course is generally rated in the top 50 in the world and the top 10 in Australia.

Golf Australia's Herden, who has previously run an Eisenhower Trophy here as well as various professional tournaments, calls it "one of Australia's gems''.

Despite difficult weather conditions, the club's staff have done an amazing job in presenting immaculate fairways and greens, with Herden arguing that the visiting LPGA Tour players will struggle to find a better venue in all of 2017.

"I'd have to say the quality of turf on the golf course is exceptional, it's unbelievable,'' he said. "They've had a very wet spring then a lot of heat in the last week, but they've done a remarkable job. It's an awesome tournament course. The variation of holes is really something, there's longs, shorts, there's tight holes. The width of fairways is unbelievable generous, so players who miss the fairway here, they've got to hit a very ordinary golf shot. In saying that, the greens are very small so coming out of bunkers will be tough and you need to place your tee shots.''

Royal Adelaide will play at 6115 metres this week, and par 73 for the professionals teeing it up from Thursday. Among the tougher challenges will be the 371-metre sixth hole, which plays into the prevailing southerly winds, and the 14th, also a par-four at 380 metres.

Herden said forecast strong winds on Saturday would see a slightly conservative approach with green speed. The putting surfaces are likely to be running at about 11 on the stimpmeter.

The players are playing the same routing that Royal Adelaide members play, and in many cases from the usual men's tees.  "We've retained the routing because of the history of the great tournaments we've had here, and it's always worked,'' said Herden. "Logistically it's challenging getting out to 10-tee, but it's do-able and that's all good."

The Grange train service that famously bisects the course, running straight past the clubhouse and the 18th green, is to be shut down from tomorrow and throughout the tournament for reasons of safety. The train, which runs half-hourly from the city to the western beaches, originally was the primary way for Royal Adelaide members to reach the course and play golf.

"There's so much history here, and we're so blessed to have this piece of ground,'' said Herden. "It's an awesome piece of land.''

Royal Adelaide has hosted one previous Women's Australian Open, in 1994 when Annika Sorenstam won. It has hosted the men's Open nine times, but not since 1998. The women's Open has come to the course as part of a three-year contract to hold the event in Adelaide's brilliant sandbelt courses, beginning at The Grange last year and continuing with Kooyonga Golf Club in 2018.