Sunday, 21 February 2016

Innisfail Golf Club

Innisfail Golf Club's 9th green and clubhouse
Last week I continued my slow quest to play all the golf courses of Far North Queensland, and nipped down to Innisfail for nine holes. I had wandered along a couple of the holes before, before Cyclone Larry hit in 2005 and took out the large trees along the 9th hole, but had never got around to playing.

The approach shot to Innisfail's first hole.
Innisfail is a parkland/garden style course, very flat and quite forgiving. I found the rough a little too nice - it's more of a shaggy fairway. I was hitting my driver very poorly, and really deserved some bad lies but I think I only had one. Most of the fairways have a healthy tree line, though it is planted out more as a parkland than as jungle, so a trip into the trees is often going to be a fairly easy recovery, even if just to knock the ball out onto the fairway.

The par 3 second
A more jungle-like planting does pop up once or twice around a watercourse that crosses a couple of holes including the par three second (photographed above). A well-struck shot will clear the creekline and you will find a large fairway area surrounding the green. I would have liked the green brought closer to the creek to bring it into play more, but it is a very nice looking hole as it is.

The third green
The par four third gently doglegs around a gentle tree line to a green with a lovely backdrop of dense vegetation. The fairway is wide and tempts a big swing off the tee. A good tee shot, which isn't what I did, would leave a short wedge to an unprotected green.

The fourth fairway on the right, the thirteenth on the left
Nine hole courses are played twice for a normal round of 18 holes. Most such courses will have separate sets of tees for the front and back nine, and Innisfail is no different in this respect. On the fourth hole, which doubles as the fourteenth, the designers decided to double up on the fairway so you have two fairways running side by side with a narrow and sparse tree line between them. This is just too tempting. How is someone like me meant to resist and play safe?

The fifth tee shot
The fifth is a long par four with a tee shot through a narrow opening in the trees along the creek. As with all the holes, the fairway is generous but lined with tall trees that can, and did, catch a wayward tee shot.

The sixth is the only par five on the course, a rightward doglegging hole crossing rail tracks along the way. Next is the short par three seventh, which I underclubbed, and a short par four for the eighth.

The tee shot on the ninth
As I noted above, the ninth was once lined with beautiful large conifers along its right hand side until Cyclone Larry hit. It really was one of the more picturesque holes around and their loss must have been heartbreaking to the greenkeeping staff and the members. I find myself regretting not having played this hole before then. The hole rises gently from the tee with a very gentle turn to the left to a green with a bunker at the front right. The tree line is fairly low and sparse, though this will change over the years ahead,

For a small country course with, I assume, a fairly small membership, Innisfail is a very nicely maintained course. Its forgiving nature would be well suited to holiday golfers or less adventurous regular golfers. I found myself thinking it had some nice holes, but needs to toughen up a bit. I am, however, biased toward a more natural jungle or woodland style course rather than a manicured parkland course.

I dropped in on a Monday to play, and was the only player on the course. The clubhouse, while staffed, wasn't actually open. On busier days, especially competition days, I can imagine the large deck, with its good view over the first tee and ninth green, is a lovely spot to crash with a drink after a round.

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