Royal Canberra rejigged for Canberra Classic after fairway fiasco
Royal Canberra have avoided a pre-tournament poisoning disaster with the ALPG happy with the composite course they've put together for the upcoming Canberra Classic.
There were concerns the tournament would be cancelled due to the state of some of Royal's fairways after they poisoned the couch grass to remove it.
Canberra Classic winner Jiyai Shin will be playing on a rejigged Royal Canberra set up when she returns to defend her title.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos
But the amount of couch was larger than expected and that, combined with the exceptionally hot Canberra summer, has left the fairways looking patchy.
While they were still perfectly playable, the club was concerned with how they would look on TVs around the world.
Luckily, the club has 27 holes on their Yarralumla course, which means they've been able to avoid the worst of the damage and piece together 18 holes for the women to play on.
"We're looking forward to it. We're disappointed some of the holes won't be up to scratch, but the course set up as it is I think will be terrific for the girls and the members are still looking forward to watching and being part of the event," Royal Canberra president Damian Farrell said on Monday.
"The nine holes out the back are in really good nick and it's a beautiful aspect because you look across the Brindabella Mountains."
Instead of playing holes 1-18 like they have in the past, they'll use the opening four holes, then jump to the ninth, the 13th then 16 through to 27.
It takes them out over to what they call the Brindabella course, because of the mountain views out there.
While it's not part of the redeveloped championship course, they're still top-quality holes.
To help the players get about and avoid long walks, Royal Canberra will set up a shuttle bus from the clubhouse to the 13th.
ALPG chief executive Karen Lunn said they had no reservations in playing the tournament.
"They want to showcase Royal Canberra. We all know what a great golf course it is, it's just a shame that it won't be in it's tip-top condition," she said.
"But we all know with golf courses it's hardly an exact science and with the extreme weather that they've had there over the last couple of weeks hasn't helped either.
"The course is very playable, the greens are absolutely superb. We don't have any reservations."
Farrell said Royal Canberra's committee would meet to decide what grass to sow to ensure there's no repeat.
His long-term goal was to bring the Women's Australian Open back to the club, having hosted it in 2013 as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.
"I'd still like to one day have the Open back here and by that stage we'll hopefully have an even better course," Farrell said.
Lunn was also keen to lock in the Canberra Classic on a long-term deal.
Currently, it's a year-by-year proposition.
Reigning champion Jiyai Shin is set to return, along with Laura Davies, while Federal Amateur Open winner Grace Kim is also in the field.
"We'd love nothing better than to lock in a three-year agreement with [ActewAGL] and with government because it makes getting other sponsors so much easier," Lunn said.
"We really think the event's got legs and we're coming back this year, and hopefully we'll be coming back well into the future."
March 1-3: $150,000 Canberra Classic at Royal Canberra Golf Club.
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