The Palmer Coolum Resort (formerly Hyatt Regency Resort) on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was the long-time home to the season ending Australian PGA Championship. With its famous “cut parties”, where those not good enough to complete 72 holes ran amok, this was easily the most popular resort course in Australia. Robert Trent Jones Jnr worked his magic initially in 1988 and oversaw a re-design in 2008 that sadly came about as a result of the beachside holes No’s 4-8 being claimed for residential land sale. The course was then acquired by Clive Palmer, and sadly experienced a decline in quality (and the strange presence of large-scale dinosaurs – an unusual fascination of the new owner).
Thankfully the stunning 72 par, 6,137 metre course has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts in very recent times with the Golf Digest panel seeing fit to restore the course to Top 100 status. It has returned to must-play status as part of a Sunshine Coast golf trip.
During its heyday, the fine layout was graced by the game’s best, including major winners Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day, Y.E. Yang, Greg Norman and Darren Clarke. Perhaps the finest stretch of golf ever played at Coolum belongs to one of our purest ever ball strikers in Peter Lonard who fashioned 76 consecutive bogey-less holes in the 2006 Australian PGA Championship only to lose to a dramatic holed bunker shot by eventual victor Nick O’Hern at the treacherous par 4 18th on the 4th hole of sudden death. Play the course and you’ll be astounded at this mind-bending accomplishment!
Coolum has contrasting landscapes, from lakeside holes to manicured fairways that weave their way through native bushland. It dishes up the usual resort golf thrills and challenges, with plenty of water, lush tropical foliage and a focus on eye-catching features and design.
As far as signature holes go, Coolum has 2. The downhill par 3 11th which plays alongside a lake to a bean-shaped green, hugging the water on the right with accompanying bail out swales to the left that make it fairly simple to ease a chip shot into the abyss you sought to avoid from the tee. The other is the aforementioned par 4 18th. Very similar to the Players Championship TPC Sawgrass finishing hole, it heads left around a lake for its entire length and punishes those who flinch too far from the water with their tee shot.