Located just a five minute drive from the coast of Western Australia , Lake Karrinyup Country Club boasts beauty and history in equal measure. With 75 species of birds on site and kangaroos bounding along the fairways, nature mixes seamlessly with a formidable layout, which is set to pose yet another firm test this week in Perth.
Lake Karrinyup was founded in 1928 and boasts a course originally designed by Alex Russell, business partner of acclaimed architect Dr Alister McKenzie, co-designer of Augusta National. Wildlife has always abounded throughout the course’s existence and makes it one of the most visually striking venues on tour, particularly when drenched in the sunshine typical to the region. The course has hosted a number of renowned tournaments, including the Australian Open and the Johnnie Walker Classic, as well as the more recent ISPS HANDA Perth International.
To get the lowdown on what to expect this week, europeantour.com turned to a man in the know. Jack Wilson, who currently plays on the PGA Tour of Australia and the Asian Tour, will be making his sixth appearance at Lake Karrinyup and offered up his insights on the key features. Wilson has also played in 11 European Tour events, as well as competing on the Challenge Tour and PGA Tour Canada.
Perhaps some of the course’s biggest defences are its striking steepness and undulations. Wide fairways allow for some margin of error on one of Australia’s hilliest courses, although sweeping winds coming in from the Indian Ocean must also be factored in to shot choice.
Each of the Super 6 holes that will be used in the Sunday match play are located on the back nine and will throw up a variety of different challenges. From the short par three 12th to the steep drive required on the par four 18th, every hole promises an exacting test in the heat of match play.
“I really think there are some great feature holes that are excellent for viewing,” said Wilson. “If you’re out in this side of the world it’s a great course to spectate on. There are so many holes here that could be on the best courses in the world. We’re really lucky to play it.
“I love the format, too. We’re moving in the right direction with match play. I love tennis and the idea of having that one-on-one combat is pretty special. That’s as big a motivation as any to get to Sunday and be in the top 24. From there everything levels out a bit, even if you’re coming up against the best players in the field, you feel like you’ve got a chance. I’d back myself head-to-head in that mental grind and that’s what match play is all about.”
Wilson on…elevation changes
“It’s an interesting one, because I probably struggled with it in the early days of playing here. This will be my sixth time, so now I’m standing on the tee thinking, ‘ok, so this goes hard down the left’ or you know that it might run out a bit. The seventh is a par five and it runs down a lot, so you start at the left and just use the slope. The second has a blind tee shot over a hill, but every time I step up there I just aim at a certain tree.
“With the approaches, you’ve got notes you’ve made over previous years and we’re so lucky with the yardage books we’ve got. The numbers are so accurate. As long as you’re diligent and keeping track of where you are you have a chance.”
Wilson on...the greens
“The greens are fantastic. I played the front nine on Monday and the surfaces are superb. They’re pretty undulating, with some subtle and quite severe breaks. I like that, because you really have to think about where you’re going to miss it and the leave you’re going to have on the green. You can easily hit it short-sided and have an impossible chip. I like that, because you need to start using your imagination. If you get too complacent, you’ll drop shots around here for sure.”
Wilson on…the kangaroos
“I’ve grown up with wildlife, particularly kangaroos and koalas, so it’s normal for us. When I was in Canada, bears, squirrels and deer were pretty normal for those guys. This place is a really special setting. I played a practice round here with Jason Dufner a few years ago and he was blown away by the kangaroos. He was getting pretty close and I was saying, ‘mate, you might want to watch out, he’s a big boy, he might ruffle you up!’ It’s great to share this experience with other players from all over the world. They get to see how lovely this country is and how lucky we are.”