Red or dead

Adelaide delivers the perfect four-ball of golf and wine

By Matt Cleary 11/02/2019

We’re under the verandah of the clubhouse at Royal Adelaide Golf Club, overlooking the first fairway and 18th green. And we are enjoying a bottle of Clarendon Hills Bakers Gully Syrah which, according to its maker, “opens with big aromas of smoked meat, coffee and humidor to balance the black cherry background”, while “round, plush tannins ornately integrate with hints of brown spice for an unforgettably complex Syrah”.

Not claiming expertise, me. But this drop is velvet.

As is Royal Adelaide GC, which we’ve just played as part of the ‘Four Reds’ experience, a fine initiative by South Australia Tourism and travel company Golf Explorer to showcase the super-fine wines of the region and pit golfers against Adelaide’s four most exclusive courses. After each round, players enjoy a premium bottle of ‘matched’ red wine coupled with hot and cold seasonal fare served tapas-style on a tasting plate. And for an après-golf experience of luxurious, relaxed ambience, it’s very hard to think of anything that could top it.

Famous British surgeon turned golf course architect Dr Alistair MacKenzie visited Royal Adelaide in 1926, and said: “One finds a most delightful combination of sand dunes and fir trees, a most unusual combination even at the best seaside courses. No seaside courses I have seen possess such magnificent sand craters as those at Royal Adelaide.”

It’s since been re-designed by esteemed course creators Mike Clayton and Tom Doak. And if you’re a golfer you should really play it. It’s manicured, interesting, challenging – and a lot of fun.So are the other courses on this little rotation: Kooyonga, Glenelg and the Grange. They all sit comfortably in Australia’s top 50-rated courses, and they all come with a matching bottle of premium wine. As you sit there supping on the velvet and enjoying kangaroo chops and tangy hummus, you think: wow, Adelaide has it going on. Yes, Adelaide. Consider:

•It boasts golf courses of a quality equal to those in Melbourne’s Sandbelt. Take a good-sized divot from the chunky red clay and you’ve got yourself a world-class bunker complex.

•It’s a 20-minute drive from the middle of town to golf, the beach, the hills – just about everything that’s good. Not forgetting the world-class gastro-pubs of North Adelaide.

•Outside a few hot months of summer (Adelaide’s The Advertiser’s Christmas weather forecast one year was “Just really hot”), it boasts a temperate, even Mediterranean climate. Rainfall is moderate. Not especially windy. Still and chill in winter. Golf conditions: just about perfect.

•It produces the world’s best wine.You’ll have heard of the wines, of course. In the fertile flatlands, hills and valleys of Adelaide’s rural outer skirts lie some of the world’s most famous wine regions. Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Coonawarra host labels like Penfolds, Henschke and Peter Lehmann. Adelaide is Grape Land. And it is Golf Land.

Whoever suggested that never the twain shall meet, in this case, was really spectacularly wrong. Four Reds’ guests can tailor their own itineraries, but it’s hard to top the ‘Vintage Experience’, which includes six nights at the Pullman Adelaide, private transfers, four rounds of golf, special post-round food and wine experience at each club, and a full day private wine tour to the Barossa Valley, including exclusive access to three wineries.

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