Graham Marsh, a professional golfer renowned for his many wins on the Japan Golf Tour back in his touring days, parlayed that successful playing career into an equally impressive course design portfolio. One of his most recent projects eventuated when Horton Park Golf Club in Maroochydore was made to relocate to Bli Bli, close to the Sunshine Coast Airport, on a flat piece of flood prone land.
Given the flood-prone nature of the property, the land profile was raised considerably during construction and provided a blank canvas for Marsh to create a layout which has matured in a short space of time to appeal as a challenge for players of all standards. The generous expanse of land allowed Marsh to offer four tees options. With broad avenues of play on each hole complimenting heavily protected, raised green locations, water hazards and penal long championship tee sites, the course has a definite links feel. These qualities ensure this newcomer to the Sunshine Coast scene has something for everyone.
There are some attractive bunker complexes that are visually intimidating enough to have you consider alternative playing lines and club selection. The par 4 10th is a fine example – from the tips, the slight dogleg right hole stretches to 390 metres, but the hero route to the green is to take on the first of three bunkers framing the right edge of the fairway. Long ball wielders can carry the first bunker, but they are dicing with danger in the form of the two smaller concealed traps beyond. The safe playing line, being wide to the left of the sand, leaves a longer shot and far harder approach where a bunker short left of the green is particularly challenging.
The only hole devoid of bunkers is the 399-metre 18th hole, which ranks as the hardest hole at Maroochy River courtesy of its length and the only forced water carry on the course. It is a testing closer that seems to have been inspired by similar holes that regularly feature on the PGA Tour. With water all down the left side of the hole – and separated from the slight dogleg left fairway by a wide cut of rough – few players will willingly drive to the left half of the fairway. Shorter hitters will need to lay-up short of the water hazard, cutting the fairway off from the green that lies beyond, and rely on their wedge and putter to score.