The Grange is Adelaide golfing royalty featuring two acclaimed 18-hole championship courses. The West Course has undergone a restoration at the hands of Michael Clayton, the project completed in 2008. The younger sibling East Course received an overhaul courtesy of Greg Norman, completed in 2012 the new East receives high praise and is now closer in quality to the older West course. In 2019 the club hosted The Australian Ladies Open. Co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour, the tournament attracted a world class field and secured valuable television coverage worldwide.
In 1926, an elite cluster of three clubs were recognised as the Adelaide Sand belt: Glenelg, Kooyonga and of course Royal Adelaide comprised this imposing trio. A group of enthusiastic golfers, mainly of blue-collar backgrounds, collaborated to develop The Grange and to add the final piece of Adelaide’s ‘big four’.
Fast forward to the 1950’s and on the back of strong member numbers, the club capitalised on its success by engaging Victorian designer Vern Morcom to oversee significant changes to the layout. His main brief was to add some more complexity to the course, which he achieved over almost a decade by building 18 new tees, 17 new greens and re-routing and shaping many areas of new fairway. During this time, the club secured a neighbouring piece of land which became the East Course in 1967, Morcom this time having a blank canvas to express his talents.
The Grange began a storied championship hosting era in 1976, hosting The West Lakes Classic which attracted all of Australia’s best players from that era. Making the trip from the US were Bruce Crampton, David Graham, and Bruce Devlin. Other notables included Graham Marsh, Billy Dunk, Jack Newton and the defending champion, Bob Shearer. Teeing off late on the first day, a 3rd year trainee professional from Queensland with broad shoulders and a mop of blonde hair accompanied Bruce Crampton to the first tee. Obviously unaffected by being paired with arguably Australia’s best player at that time, Greg Norman announced himself on the world stage with an outstanding 64. He went on to record his maiden victory that weekend sparking an electrifying career in the game. Not to be outdone, in 1978 another bold Queenslander in Wayne Grady recorded his first tournament victory at The Grange. He and Norman would go on to win major championships in the USPGA and Open Championships.
In comparison to the other ‘big four’ venues, The Grange courses possess more of a parkland aspect, with many holes across both courses gaining definition from rows of established pines. The fractionally better West course possesses a cluster of notable par 4s to complete the round – the 17th especially memorable as it cleverly follows the movement of the terrain. Sweeping through an opening in the pines initially to the right and then marginally uphill, it requires your full attention. The extensive course redesign by noted Australian designer Michael Clayton in 2008, featured significant changes primarily to greens and bunkers, although the odd shifted tee and target has helped improve the experience. His trademark encroaching tree eradication has, as always, improved the visual and playing surface quality.
From humble beginnings, The Grange is pure quality these days and you would be hard pressed not to play both courses when visiting the city of churches.