The frequently travelled road between Adelaide and Victor Harbour features the gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula, the McLaren Vale wine region and countless tourist destinations. Just off this highway lies Mount Compass Golf Club, about 45 minutes’ drive south of the Adelaide CBD.
The 6,116-metre, Neil Crafter-designed par 72 course is a delight to play, and whilst Mount Compass is not widely known, it has progressed steadily upward in each of the last 4 bi-annual Golf Digest rankings. It is maintained by a relatively small green staff, but despite this, the conditioning of the course is excellent. Usually courses of this quality employ 2 or 3 times more staff and yet will not achieve the presentation excellence of Mount Compass.
The course has a very natural sense to the holes and utilises the flowing terrain beautifully. The greens are creatively varied in size and are nuanced to enable much variation in pin placement – always the sign of a designer that plays and has a significant understanding of the game.
Presented with such an amazing sand base, Crafter encountered the almost perfect blank canvas with which to express his creativity in designing bunkers at Mount Compass. Of the 89 bunkers littered across the property, most are clearly reminiscent of links in Great Britain. Edging of natural roughness abounds. Perhaps the best examples being the considerable trap behind the 6th green and to the right of the 1st fairway.
In keeping with the Northern Hemisphere links theme, strategically hidden pot bunkers are also a feature, deep with copious sand at the bases, a sideways escape is usually all that can be achieved from one of these coffins!
Holes worthy of mention amongst a very solid bunch are the par 4 6th very short but with a daunting expanse of wasteland that must be carried. The bending Par 5 10th can be accessed in 2 blows by the bold and accurate but can be played in multiple fashions to suit one’s appetite for aggression. Most will agree the 173-metre par 3 12th is the most memorable, the slightly raised green requires water carry the whole way. Those less practised or a bit apprehensive can bail out to the left and will rely on deft short game skills to secure a coveted par.