If you are visiting Nelson Bay on holidays and are looking for a game of golf whilst you're here, there are a number of excellent courses to choose from around the area. As the region has an abundance of native wildlife, you will also get more than what you bargained for when you play a round or two. Golfers in the area often see koalas walking on the greens, kangaroos on the fairways, echidnas skirting over tees and snakes sunbaking on the rough. Nelson Bay Golf Club, for example, has so many kangaroos that they run kangaroo tours!
For serious golfers, you will find some challenging holes in the area, with a Top 20 course in Australia located within half an hour from Nelson Bay. Keep reading for golf courses within the region that are located within 30 minutes from the bay - because who wants to spend their holidays driving, when they could be golfing?
The view from the club house at Nelson Bay Golf Club
Nelson Bay Golf Club is centrally located on Dowling Street, just near the Nelson Bay town centre (and easily accessible from Mantra Aqua, if you're looking for a handy place to stay close-by). It is a popular course with locals and visitors alike, with over 75,000 rounds played in the 2017 - 2018 financial year. It has 27 holes and costs $45 for 18 holes ($50 on the weekends), at the time of writing. The golf course layout has some challenges, with an impressive tropical, landscaped area between holes 5 and 6, where tall Gymea Lilies poke up through the ferns.
When you have finished, the Nelson Bay Clubhouse is an impressive sight, with a brand new, modern facility that was only built in August 2017 after a fire burnt down the previous building. At a cost of $10 million dollars, the new building stands proudly overlooking the course and is a highlight of any visit to this scenic golf course. See here for details. For a full article on the course and Bluewater Grill for lunch, see here.
Horizons Golf Resort is an 18 hole golf club located at Salamander Bay, just 10 minutes from Nelson Bay town centre. It was awarded Port Stephens Most Beautiful Course by 2018 GOLF Course Guide, due to its waterways and scenery. Locals enjoy playing this course, as it is an easy golf course to play with a good layout. It isn't just locals who enjoy this course, look out for koalas who also call this course their home! The cost of golf is $60 for 18 holes (weekend rates), at the time of writing.
This golf course is also well known for its FootGolf competitions (playing golf using soccer balls!), with the Asia Cup held in 2019. They also have Stay & Play packages, with partnerships with local resorts. See here for details.
Aerial shot of Horizons Golf Resort. Image: Horizons Facebook
This impressive golf club is located near the Newcastle town of Fern Bay, just over 30 minutes from Nelson Bay. It is ranked 20th in Australia and the highest ranked on this list. It has 18 holes, a modern clubhouse, an exciting layout and it costs $99 for visitors to play the course, if you book online (golf carts are $45 extra).
Newcastle is a true championship course, based on undulating sand dunes like those in Great Britain and Ireland - except with gum trees lining the fairways and kangaroos on the course! The Newcastle Golf Club's 5th hole is a favourite with the members and it was also featured by renowned golfing journalist Tom Ramsey in his book, The Best 18 Holes in Australia. If that's not all, the 6th hole is ranked in the top 500 golf holes in the world! See here for details.
Experience the beauty at Newcastle Golf Club. Image: Newcastle Golf Club Facebook
Tanilba Bay Golf Club is an easy-walking 18 hole golf course that is located on the Tilgerry Peninsula, 30 minutes from Nelson Bay. This regional course is good for the golfer on a budget, as it costs $29 for 18 holes and they also have Half Price Thursdays and Twilight Golf for $15. See here for details.
Pacific Dunes Golf Club
Pacific Dunes Golf Club is located 30 minutes from Nelson Bay in the Port Stephens suburb of Medowie. This 18 hole golf course is the newest in the area, currently ranked at number 53 from Golf Digest and number 26 from the Golf Australia Top 100 Public Access Course listing. There is an estate of new homes built around it, with land for sale, as well as a restaurant on site called the Greenhouse Eatery. Prices start from $68 for 18 holes, during a week day - however Twilight Golf is also available. See here for details.
Pacific Dunes from above. Image; Pacific Dunes Facebook
At the time of writing (December, 2019), you can purchase a 3 Play Pass for $189 and play at Nelson Bay Golf Course, Newcastle Golf Club and Pacific Dunes Golf Club. This is great value, worth $253! The pass has a 6 month expiry date from the date of purchase, meaning you can play the courses at your own leisure. See the Pro Shops at any of these clubs for more details.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those clubs and spend your day around the beautiful Port Stephens and Hunter regions this weekend. It is the perfect way to spend a holiday - only if you play well of course...and don't lose any balls!
Image: Pacific Dunes website (offer current, as of December 2019)