Golf in Western Australia

Dr. Nathan Belcher
7 min readJan 12, 2019

During my winter break, my wife and I took an 18-day trip through Western Australia. We flew into Perth from Singapore, rented a car, and drove over 4,000 kilometers to Broome. After visiting the coastal areas north of Perth for the first week we went inland to Karijini National Park, then proceeded back to the coast and ended in Broome. We flew from Broome back to Perth, visiting Rottnest Island for a few days. Because I love golf and knew there were some courses along the way, I brought my clubs. Here are some thoughts on each course I played, along with a representative picture.

Kalbarri Golf Club

  • Located in Kalbarri
  • Grass fairways with grass greens
  • The course is near the water in Kalbarri, so the day was windy — steady around 20 mph and gusting to over 30 mph. The front nine was nice because the course was a bit wider, which helped keep the ball in play with the wind factor. On one hole on the front, I made an eagle by driving over a green and making a 27-foot putt! The back nine was much narrower than the front nine, which the wind made play very difficult. I lost many golf balls on the back, but found a few to offset the losses. Overall, it was a good course and a fun start to golf in Australia.
  • The picture for Kalbarri Golf Club is a family of four emu; it was lovely to see Australian wildlife on the course. In addition to the emu, there were several families of kangaroo that lived on the course.

Boolbardie Country Club

  • Located in Denham
  • Sand and sparse grass fairways with sand greens
  • The course is near the water in Denham, so the day was extremely windy — steady at 25 mph and gusting to over 35 mph. There were nine holes on the course, carved into the hillside. Because of rugged nature of the course, I felt a spiritual connection to the founders of the game; this course hearkened back to the scrub-brush courses in Scotland. I also had a deep sense of appreciation for whoever built the course because they love the game of golf; I am glad to say that I played a round at “The Most Westerly Golf Course in Australia!”
  • The picture for Boolbardie Country Club is from the first tee, showing the ruggedness of the playing terrain. The water to the right side is a small bay; the water beyond the bay is the Indian Ocean. It was a beautiful place for a course.

Exmouth Golf Club

  • Located in Exmouth
  • Grass fairways with sand greens
  • The course was near the water in Exmouth, so the day extremely windy — steady at at least 25 mph and gusting to over 30 mph. I started too late to finish a full round of 18 holes, but I did manage to play holes 1 through 14 and hole 18. The shot of the round was a flushed 3-wood from the middle of the fairway on hole 18; I was downwind and hit the ball over the green, which was at least 275 yards away.
  • As I was playing the fifth hole, my wife Jessica appeared! She had taken a walk from our hostel room, reaching the golf course by accident. She had the drone, so she took some incredible footage of the kangaroos and me playing the course. The lighting was spectacular, as was the sunset!
  • The picture and video for Exmouth Golf Club represent the terrain and lighting at sunset, showing the beautiful colors of the course.

Mountain View Golf Club

  • Located in Tom Price near Karijini National Park
  • Rock fairways with sand greens
  • This was the roughest course I played on the trip because the course — except the sand greens — was dirt and rocks. This made hitting and finding each shot difficult; I was worried about damaging my clubs. There were turf teeing grounds for each hole, but for second (and third) shots I would find the closest grass clump and move my ball there. I only played 10 holes — 1 through 9 and 18 — due to the sunset, but it was still an interesting experience. I believe that members carry a small turf mat with them, allowing smoother shots from tee to green.
  • The picture for Mountain View Golf Club is a bunker guarding a green on a par-3; it is amusing to me that someone took the time to carve a bunker but leave it filled with the same dirt and rock as the rest of the course.

Port Hedland Golf Club

  • Located in Port Hedland
  • Grass fairways with sand greens
  • This was a nice return to grass fairways, with wide — but flat — playing corridors. As with the other courses, the difficulty came from the wind; although the wind was not as high as the earlier courses, the wind was still enough to drastically change the trajectory of a shot. The shot of the day was on the par-3 second hole; I hit a sand wedge to six feet! It was interesting to see the pitch mark of a ball landing on a sand green — there is no need for a repair tool! This was a good course with nice views of the surrounding area.
  • The picture for Port Hedland Golf Club shows the natural beauty of the area; I was on a tee box on the front nine, looking back at one of the greens.

Broome Golf Club

  • Located in Broome
  • Grass fairways with grass greens
  • This course was a return to a fully-grassed course, so I had to recalibrate my putting distances. Because I was used to the sand greens, my first couple of putts went at least 10 feet past the hole! The course was flat with no bunkers, so the creator of the course used elevated and undulating greens to make scoring more difficult. The maintenance crew kept the grass around the greens short, resulting in interesting shot options around the greens. Another aspect that raised the difficulty of the course was the wind; although the days were not as windy as other courses, there was enough wind to affect the flight of the ball.
  • The picture for Broome Golf Club is from the par-3 18th tee, looking at the clubhouse at the top of the ridge. The ridge is actually a large sand dune, so one side the clubhouse had a view of the course and the other side a view of Roebuck Bay.

Rottnest Island Country Club

  • Located in Rottnest Island
  • Grass fairways with grass greens
  • This course is a beautiful nine-hole course on Rottnest Island, featuring tight and flat fairways but undulating greens. I do not know who designed or updated the course, but the creator of the greens must have taken inspiration from other courses with multi-tiered and highly-sloping greens. There were no bunkers around the greens, with tightly-mown grass providing many options to recover; the combination interesting greens plus short grass around them made the pitching and putting enjoyable! If you ever visit Rottnest Island, I highly recommend a trip or two around the course — I went around four times and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.
  • The picture for Rottnest Island Country Club is the eighth hole, a short par-4. Someone created a large bunker in the middle of the fairway, with ridge protecting the right side of the green. The bunker sits about a 260-yard carry from the furthest tee box, so it is possible to drive the green from any teeing ground; however, it requires a high, controlled cut. The hole also plays into the typical summer breeze, making the carry further to drive the green. I appreciate that someone created the bunker and ridge, giving an otherwise-mundane hole some interesting character!

I greatly enjoyed my experience playing golf in Western Australia because it expanded my thoughts towards the game. In many parts of the world, too often “golf” means an expensive course — where you are forced to ride in a cart — with the expectation of luxury at every moment. Although there is room in the game of golf for the luxury experience, Western Australia reconnected me with a simpler version of the game — I used an honor box to pay my fee on five of the seven courses and walked on all seven courses. Due to the harsh nature of the landscape in many of the places — particularly in Denham at Boolbardie Country Club and in Tom Price at Mountain View Golf Club — it seemed that each course was constructed with care and love. From a rational perspective there should not be a place to play golf in these areas, yet someone loved the game enough to create a course for the enjoyment of all.

If you visit Western Australia and enjoy playing golf, I highly recommend playing a round at a local course. You will not find a luxury experience; however, you will find enjoyment during your round and reconnect with the soul of the game.



Dr. Nathan Belcher

Founder of "The Learning Engine" -- Helping people learn and grow through the principles of learning. W&M: B.S '08, M.A.Ed '10, U of SC: Ed.D. '17