A long walk spoiled: the 850-mile golf course

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The Independent Online

With a distinct lack of greenery, and an average of 50 miles between holes, the Nullarbor Links may not appeal to every golfer. But those fed up of swinging their clubs in suburbia may relish the challenge of the world's longest course, which will open later this year in the Australian Outback.

The par-72 course straddles the inhospitable, sparsely populated Nullarbor Plain, stretching 850 miles from the gold-mining centre of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to the fishing town of Ceduna on the South Australian coast.

Most visitors traverse the Nullarbor – named for its lack of trees – at speed, but locals hope the new golf course may persuade them to linger.

Eighteen holes will be sited at small towns and roadhouses along the Eyre Highway, which snakes across the dramatic desert plain. Each hole will have a synthetic green and tee, along with a rugged, natural terrain fairway.

Construction will be completed next month, and an inaugural tournament is scheduled for October. The project manager, Alf Caputo, said yesterday that golfers from England, China and Japan had already shown interest. Mr Caputo said the course was unique.

"There's some absolutely amazing scenery out there. One of the holes is right smack bang in the middle of a sheep station. This is the real Australia," he said.

A round of golf is expected to take a minimum of four days, with scorecards stamped after each hole has been played. Some established courses have loaned a hole, but most have been purpose-built.

The project was dreamed up by Bob Bongiorno, who used to manage a roadhouse on the Eyre Highway. He said that while trying to think of ways to persuade travellers to take their time, he had met a couple who were stopping for games of golf along the way. "I thought, why not build a giant golf course and try to slow everyone down?" he told a Sydney newspaper.

As for the 19th hole – well, there will be 18 of them, with an opportunity for a drink at every stop.

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