It stands as one of the great testaments to the collaboration of Peter Thomson, Michael Wolveridge and Ross Perrett. The TWP design at Hope Island brought a sense of Old World links to the bright lights and eternal sunshine of the Gold Coast and for the past 26 years has retained its original routing. But that is about to change.
The Gallery at Links Hope Island – a new, 46-lot residential precinct that opened last November – has necessitated some changes to the layout that promise to invigorate what is a perennial favourite of golfers who make a regular Gold Coast pilgrimage.
The passing of Thomson last June makes Hope Island’s connection to its past ever more treasured and is why Wolveridge was lured out of retirement to once again work with Perrett and Warren Duncan.
In essence, the new residential lots will see the lake that has housed the driving range play back towards the clubhouse as a par 3 of 140 metres to a peninsular green to become the new ninth hole, with the old ninth in time converted to a driving range of some 280 metres. With the owner’s desire to maintain two nines each with a par of 36 for a total par of 72, the 191-metre par-3 third will be lengthened into a 320-metre par 4. Wolveridge is insistent both holes will retain all the hallmarks of the original design.
“That’s not difficult as long as you use the same architect,” Wolveridge tells New Zealand Golf Digest. Construction is expected to commence by late May, with the spare par 3 at the back of the 12th hole ensuring the course retains 18 holes throughout. “It’s a bit like a painting, really. Even if you’re nearly on your deathbed you should be able to alter a nice painting and keep it with the same hand and feeling.”
With an exciting announcement in the offing regarding a new tournament at Hope Island possibly as early as next January, the conversion of the par-4 ninth into a par 3 over water will deliver a spectacular finish to the front nine. It will play as short as 80 metres from the forward tees, but it is the change at the third hole that most excites Wolveridge.
“It’s a bit like a painting, really. Even if you’re nearly on your deathbed you should be able to alter a nice painting and keep it with the same hand and feeling.” – Mike Wolveridge
“We had to have the par 3 across the lake so it was a rather simple exercise to lengthen the third,” he explains. “The third green is a super set-up. That would have done nicely for a par 5 so a short par 4, which is one of the naughtiest, lovely pieces of artwork you could ever do if you get it right, it will suit itself well. That will be a tough little bugger of a hole. A driver and a sand iron, but you can have all kinds of problems with that green.”
Describing the original site as “a ghastly piece of land”, Wolveridge retains great affection for Hope Island not just because of what it represents in terms of his association with Thomson and Perrett but for those they worked with and the legacy they left behind.
“We took our time and we did it well,” Wolveridge said of the $20 million project, four times what golf courses were being built for in the United States at the time. “We got to work with a lovely man by the name of Geoffrey Burchill, who was the engineer behind the whole Hope Island masterplan, and we had very good engineers every step of the way. I’ve done a couple of hundred courses over the years and one of the nicer ones undoubtedly was Hope Island.”
Open Doors, Open Mind
‘Private Property’. ‘Keep Out’.
The signs were scattered throughout Hope Island upon its opening, the message crystal clear. An equity membership model adopted shortly after the turn of the century further restricted access to the club to only a select few able to afford it and emphasised the notion that visitors were not welcome.
Almost 20 years later and Links Hope Island has adopted a vastly different mantra: ‘Everybody, every day’.
It will take time to re-educate those in surrounding suburbs that people of all ages are welcome at Links Hope Island, but a number of initiatives are already attracting a demographic rarely seen at the facility in years gone by. Full membership has grown by about 100 since the transition from equity membership to an annual subscription model under owners Golden Horse Group, five-day membership is at capacity and a twilight membership that allows golfers to play after 2pm for $1,500
a year has not only proven popular but filled tee-times that may otherwise have gone unused.
Nominated for Club of the Year at the Queensland Golf Industry Awards in March, Hope Island has increased the number of annual rounds by 10 per cent in the past four years and is expanding its reach in continually innovative ways. This month the Easter Family Fun Day will welcome families for the third straight year while the Food Truck Festival held in February drew close to 5,000 people, many of who may never have visited Hope Island before.
“Our Food Truck Festival engaged with 27,000 people through the Facebook event that we created,” explains Links Hope Island general manager, Tracey-Lea Tiley. “Of those 27,000 people, 60 per cent were females aged between 35 and 44. That’s a highly desirable demographic for golf clubs.
“We’ve introduced a ‘Next Generation’ membership that we hope will keep our juniors attached to the club after they turn 18 and we offer a $59 ‘Back Nine and Brekky’. That enables those who haven’t got the time to play 18 to tee off before 7.30am three days a week and continue to enjoy what the club offers.
“People want to interact with the facility in different ways and we’re ready for where golf wants to take us.”
But as it looks to the future, Links Hope Island will always retain a deep connection to its proud history. When the club embarked on a $1.2 million refurbishment of its clubhouse, they were conscious to pay homage to its past by naming its new boardroom, the Thomson Room.
And when the new holes open for play later this year those in attendance will reflect fondly as they embrace the exciting new chapters in front of them.
Links Hope Island
Where: Hope Island Rd, Hope Island QLD 4212
Phone: +61 7 5530 9000
E-mail: [email protected]