If ever a place lives up to its hype then Bonville Golf Resort is it. Found 15 minutes south of Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales north coast, this inland beauty is one of the most majestic courses I’ve seen in more than 25 years in golf. Evident upon arrival, as seen from the view overlooking the 18th green, is the severe undulation of the fairways. It’s an imposing yet inviting prospect for the avid golfer, and a challenge you’ll eagerly pursue.
With an Augusta National-like feel echoing through several holes—particularly the stunning par three 17th—you’ll feel like a major winner playing from idyllic white sand bunkers and enticing green fairways. But, what’s most impressive about this 6084-metre heavily tree-lined course is its rare blend of aesthetics, challenge and fairness.
The consistency of the layout is one of its strongest features, with towering flooded gums aligning the fairways as if guiding you home to each hole.
The start to your round—a 380-metre par four with a gentle dogleg right and creek running through the fairway on your way to an elevated green—is a wonderful showcase of what awaits you over the next four hours.
Looking back on a good day’s golf can be most rewarding, and the same can be said when standing on any of Bonville’s smooth Bermuda greens. Some of the views are simply superb, and offer a different aspect to the scene from where you just came.
But for those hard-headed golfers less interested in nature’s beauty than a golfing challenge, your desires will not go wanting at Bonville. Despite its average length by today’s standards, it is a real shotmaker’s layout, asking for draws and fades off the tee (and into the greens) for those wanting a head-to-head challenge. The steep undulations on many fairways will take a bit of getting used to for most, and are a welcome addition to the round.
Having said that, Bonville is one of the fairest courses you’ll find, rewarding good shots but always offering bailout areas for the more conservative player. Rarely does luck, or a lack of it, play a part in where your ball finishes. Good shots are not punished here—a notion more course designers should heed. After all, golf is to be enjoyed and courses should want you to return. Believe me, after a round here, you’ll be back.
In a way, this track is all things to all people. Take the 404-metre par four 12th, arguably the finest hole and rated the most difficult. A severe dogleg right, which from an elevated tee requires a strong left-to-right drive that can shorten your approach significantly. In fact, the difference can be as much as hitting a short iron or a hybrid into a tame green guarded by a bunker left, and deceptive water right. In essence, this course lives by the saying, ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’.
Another favourite among visitors is the 357-metre par four 15th, one of the most picturesque holes on the course. Framed by flooded gums, the fairway offers brilliant views to a water-protected green. These views alter dramatically depending on where your tee shot lands, meaning each time you play Bonville, you’ll enjoy a different experience.
Similar descriptions could be applied for each hole, such is the overall character of this course.
Of course, there are other important aspects to a golfing holiday. The dining experience can be the deciding factor in the choice of a getaway destination. And it is here that Bonville’s Flooded Gums Restaurant complements the feel and atmosphere of its surrounding beauty.
Executive Chef Darren Ryan has implemented a menu that showcases the Coast’s freshest produce along with his brilliant culinary skills. Even for extended stays at Bonville Golf Resort, I would doubt that you would dine offsite with the variety of this menu.
Some of the mouth-watering dishes include farmed saltwater barramundi, dill and finger lime beurre blanc, grilled scallions and micro herbs; or breaded veal rib, garlic custard, roast heirloom tomato salad and parmesan crisps. For dessert, the chocolate delice, served with salty sweet popcorn and a rich creamy buttermilk ice cream is perfection.
Apart from the outstanding food on offer, there is an absorbing wine list with over 350 labels to choose from, thanks to the efforts of Luke Collard, head sommelier of Jonah’s and consulting sommelier to Flooded Gums. Enjoy all this while you relive the memories of your day’s play overlooking the 18th green as the ghostly white flooded gums illuminate the way.
From golf operations to restaurant staff, the genuinely friendly team at Bonville help make your experience pleasant and relaxing—nothing is too much trouble here.
The recently refurbished 30 accommodation ‘suites’ will further enhance your stay. The resort’s rooms overlook the first hole and offer a comfortable night sleep for all golfers, couples and groups alike. The executive rooms include a king size bed, 40” flat screen LCD TV’s with Foxtel Channels, ensuite with spa and views fronting the golf course.
Bonville is a complete golfing experience that can be shared by golf groups, couples, men, women and families. Players of all levels of golfing ability will enjoy Bonville.
Aesthetically, there is no more beautiful course in Australia, with an abundance of native flora and fauna, including koalas and some rather cheeky kookaburras (that appear to be trained to laugh at errant shots!).
Bonville offers a wow-factor unlike any other. It really is as good as they say.