On par with best in state
The Willunga Golf Course is one of the prettiest in the state with views of vines, hills and the coast but the greatest drawcard is its hospitality both on and off the course.
You know you’re playing on a country golf course when you share the fairway with an occasional kangaroo or koala, especially when the latter also shares your water bottle on a hot day.
For Peter Bickley, who runs the Willunga Golf Course Pro Shop, the impromptu interaction between locals epitomises the club’s culture.
“We’re a friendly bunch, and a welcoming club,” he says. “We’re a public course owned by the City of Onkaparinga and our goal is to encourage play from all walks of life, so we’re open to all abilities, all ages, and not exclusive in any way.”
Twelve-year-old Isabelle already feels part of the club saying she enjoys being amongst nature and that the “people are so nice”.
Isabelle might be the youngest golfer Peter teaches, but she is certainly not the least experienced.
“I’m teaching a bloke who’s taking up golf for retirement,” he says. “It’s giving me a real kick to teach him new skills even though we both agree golf would be easy if it wasn’t for the ball.
“But the good thing about golf is that anyone can play.”
Peter’s son Cameron concurs. “I’ve held a golf club from the time I could walk — it’s what happens when your Dad is a professional golfer.” At 16, Cameron has been playing golf for 12 years and competing for six, and is already a strong ambassador for his home course.
With lush fairways and picturesque surrounds, the Willunga Golf Course is a prized lifestyle asset for the region.
“It’s such a beautiful setting overlooking vines and hills, with plenty of ancient gums and water hazards to keep you on your toes, and the wildlife here is sensational,” Peter says. “And it’s easy to get around the 18-hole course. There’s plenty of room so we don’t have a problem with slow play and there’s always good social interaction both on the course and off.”
Peter says the 19th hole [the club house] is a social hub for members, casual players and visitors. The annual calendar includes social days, open days, and fundraisers, including the Melbourne Cup luncheon and the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association’s golf day, with both events donating proceeds to local charities.
“The charity changes every year so funds are spread across the district,” Peter explains. “Supporting this community is an important part of the club.”
The Willunga Golf Course is available at all times except Saturdays before 1pm. Junior and senior are welcome. Facilities include a large practice putting green, practice nets, a driving range, golf carts, a pro shop, café, and clinics.
EMBRACED BY NATURE:
Junior Golfer Cameron Bickley says his home course is one of the best in the state; ancient gums frame manicured fairways; Pro Golfer Peter Bickley shares his love of the sport with players of all ages; resident koalas add to the country experience; Kath Layton and Heather Zinnoegger support the club’s annual Melbourne Cup community fundraiser.