Nullarbor Links

Monday, 6th December 2010 by

When people talk about playing a long golf course, they usually talk in terms of a six or seven thousand yards, that may take around four hours to play. Along the Eyre Highway on the Nullarbor Plain in Australia, however, people can boast of a course that may take a few days to play. Opened in August 2009, the Nullarbor Links are spread out over 848 miles (1,365 km).

The course is composed of seven holes at various existing golf courses in Western and South Australia, plus eleven holes specially constructed at various roadhouses along the highway. For 60 Australian dollars, you can buy a scorecard and start play at either end (Kalgoorlie on the west end or Ceduna on the east end), getting your card stamped as you progressively play your way through the holes. The ultimate reward? A certificate stating that you have played the longest golf course in the world.

Nullarbor Plain, Australia

We start off the course from the east end with holes 1 and 2 at Ceduna Golf Course. Already, one gets an impression of the dry, sparse conditions of the Nullarbor Links – and these two holes are part of an existing course!

Things get even drier as the links visit the third hole at Penong, a village that relies on windmill pumps to generate water. Here are the tees:

The course then enters the heart of the Nullarbor and visits holes constructed at the various roadhouses along the way. The fifth hole (Dingo’s Den) at Nullarbor Motel is the longest of the links at 585 yards (538 m), with the tee right behind the blanched motel and the green consisting of the lone patch of vegetation at the top of the picture.

The roadhouse holes consist of synthetic tees and greens with natural desert landscape in between. At Border Village, one actually tees off from the parking lot next to a giant kangaroo.

Crossing into Western Australia, golfers will travel through the Eucla Pass to get to the eighth hole, abruptly dropping to near sea level and the expansive Roe Plains below, re-emerging at the oasis of Madura, where at 136 yards (125 m), the shortest hole on the course can be found.

The long par-4 eleventh hole is at Caiguna, most famous for being at the eastern end of the ’90-Mile Straight’, the longest straight stretch of road on earth.

The twelfth hole at Balladonia is called ‘Skylab’, and for good reason. In July 1979, the space station re-entered the atmosphere here and fell in chunks all around the area, some of which are on display at the motel.

The course comes back to civilisation on holes 14 and 15 at Norseman Golf Club, which is positively dwarfed by the massive dry Lake Cowan next door. The sixteenth hole at Kambalda is called ‘Silver Lake’ after nearby Lake Lefroy, a 212 sq mile (550 sq km) salt flat that is popular among land sailors and has been the site of numerous land speed record attempts.

The course ends (or begins) with two holes at Kalgoorlie Golf Club, where Street View gives you a glimpse of the clubhouse and one of the fairways.

You can visit the Nullarbor Links website to view more photos, explore the stories behind all 18 holes, and figure out just how to go about playing them all! (The course record, by the way? 78.)