The Takeaway: Featuring a stout challenge and easy access to the heart of Sydney, The Lakes is a great club for city dwellers and for hosting large events. The front nine is sandy, the back nine is water laden, and the location echoes the sound of traffic throughout the round. The Lakes is one of the better courses in Sydney but doesn’t stack up to the impressive portfolio of courses in Melbourne. Grade B
Designer: Eric Apperly and Tom Howard in 1928/Robert von Hagge in 1968/Ogilvy and Clayton in 2007
Cost: Private $250 AUD - $400 AUD Click for membership information
Phone Number: +61 (02) 9669 1311
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Lakes Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Cnr King St & Vernon Ave, Eastlakes, New South Wales 2018 – AUSTRALIA
Accolades: Ranked 18th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus
What to Expect: Located a few miles east of the Sydney airport and with quick southerly access from downtown, The Lakes enjoys convenient access for its members and visitors alike. Host of the Australian Open seven times and the Australian PGA Championship three times, The Lakes is a championship test with the tale of two nines. The front nine is heavily laden in sand with a single water hazard on the opening hole while the back nine features water on several holes and gives justification to club name; The Lakes. The extensive bunkering renovation that Ogilvy and Clayton did in 2007 helps make the front nine more compelling that the natural terrain lends and being accurate off the tee is absolutely critical considering how difficult recovery is from the sand. The front nine finishes with a par three, which is uncommon but not unheard of, but interestingly the back nine also finishes with a par three; a combination I’ve never seen. The more interesting back nine has some unique hole designs in terms of hazard placement where wisdom conquers valor when deciding how much to execute each shot. Ultimately, The Lakes feels more like a course you’d find in Florida than one you’d find in Australia given the mostly flat terrain, heavy use of sand, and numerous water features. The layout is more interesting than the Open course at Moonah Lakes that was built specifically to host the Australian Open, plus with its large facilities and proximity to Sydney, it is the perfect site for a large event. The heavy traffic surrounding the course, including a road that runs through it, takes away from the ambiance of the experience as the noise is a constant reminder that you haven’t retreated from everyday life. In addition, it was a bit surprising to see the lakes and bush areas not cleaned up better as rubbish was commonplace. Lastly, many players walk during their round at The Lake but carts are available as well.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 549 Yard Par 5 – A famous par five in Sydney, the 14th is flanked on the left by water for the length of the hole while the right side is lined with trees. The biggest reward is offered by challenging the left side that has a fairway bunker adding some challenge to flirting with the water. A successful drive affords a flat lie and a chance to take a rip at the green in two straight over the water with a pair of bunkers behind the putting surface that will catch balls that come into the green hot. Players who want to layup on their second shot have a large crescent bunker at the end of the fairway that can be used as a benchmark to stay short of before attacking the flag from a 90 degree angle compared to players going for the green in two. On this line the green is 60 yards deep so you'll need your distance control dialed in. This is a great hole for match play or stroke play, and easily the best hole at The Lakes.
Best Par 3: 7th Hole – 175 Yards – Playing slightly uphill through a saddle in the dunes, the 7th is a quality one-shotter that invites players to attack the left side of the green. The right side of the putting surface is encircled by bunkers and is not the place you want to try and save par from if you hang one out or the wind shoves it that direction. The sandy surroundings and distant trees framing the holes is reminiscent of what you'd find on the Sandbelt.
Best Par 4: 16th Hole – 433 Yards – Characterized by the water that The Lakes embodies as its club's name, the 16th is all about accuracy if you want to succeed. The tee shot plays over a passage of water to a fairway that is partially obstructed from view due to the small rise beyond the crossing bridge. Beyond the landing zone the fairway takes a 45 degree turn right and skinnies up fast with water pinching in on each side of the short grass before the fairway feeds into the triangle shaped green with rounded edges and four bunkers neighboring it. This is unquestionably one of The Lakes most demanding and intimidating approach shots.
Best Par 5: 8th Hole – 550 Yards – The 8th hole is all about the cross bunkers and how you are going to deal with them. If you can't clear them off the tee then you should take a club that keeps you short of the bunkers as well as the water short and right of the cross bunker on the right side. The second shot has more cross bunkers to deal with, but the prudent play is to lay up just short of them and leave yourself a wedge shot into the green where the back third is the only portion safe from bunkers. Other than the distraction of the M1 racing by on your right, this is a splendid hole to enjoy.
Birdie Time: 13th Hole – 315 Yard Par 4 – The most enjoyable tee shot on the course is found here on the 13th where players get a rare opportunity to hit from an elevated tee that gives you the advantage you might need to reach this green with your drive. The fairway doglegs right to a green bunkerless green that slopes off the edges and comes to a point in the front third. Any tee shot that avoids the water on the right side of the fairway should yield an opportunity to hit one tight and card a birdie before taking on The Lakes' signature hole.
Bogey Beware: 3rd Hole – 486 Yard Par 4 – Wind is often rolling through The Lakes which makes this long par four even more difficult to contend with. Most members will play this hole with the strategy of a par five since reaching it in two won't happen except for long ballers. Waste areas frame both sides of the fairway which eliminates the opportunity to bail out on the drive somewhere, so you'll just have to man up on every shot on the 3rd; unfortunately most of the time it will be all five shots.