Review of Golf in Australia’s Garden State

Golf around Melbourne, Australia

The garden state of Victoria is the spiritual home of golf in Australia with some of the country’s best golf courses. One of them, the Metropolitan Golf Club, will host the World Cup of Golf this November. This event will see some of the world’s top golfers play for their country from 21-25 November, on one of the finest championship courses in Australasia. This is the perfect opportunity to see some of the world’s great golfers on a great course – so why not pack your clubs and extend your stay to include rounds on some of the best golf courses in the country.

There are many public and private courses located close to the city, and you’ll be impressed by how well maintained these courses are. From resort-style layouts through to challenging suburban courses, many have public access and cater for all handicaps and levels of experience.

Sandbelt

The famous ‘sandbelt’ region of Melbourne is where the climate, landscape and rich history create a golfing destination like no other. It boasts a fabulous group of courses that typify the golden age of golf architecture and all courses are located within a short distance of each other. The sandy loam soil in the area has allowed for layouts which have incredible green complexes, and fairways that are firm and vibrant all year round.

The jewel in the crown is Royal Melbourne, Australia’s number one course and the city’s golfing showpiece. Royal Melbourne boasts two 18-hole courses, East and West, with the West Course regularly voted the best golf course in Australia. The Alister Mackenzie design· incorporates the two classic 18-hole layouts featuring deep rough, strategically placed bunkers and fast, true greens.

Brighton Golf Course has all the hallmarks of the sandbelt – meaning bunkers lacing almost every green – with none of the intimidation of the better known courses, and a green fee that caters to any level of play. Brighton is a true test of Sandbelt golf, with a short, tricky front nine leading to a longer more challenging inward nine. With great drainage you will enjoy fantastic fairways all year round with a large number of native trees and bird-life to add to the experience.

Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club was designed by Greg Norman and is a homage to the Great White Shark himself. Golf Australia named it the best publicly accessible course in Melbourne, making Sanctuary Lakes an ideal stop for almost anyone looking for a rewarding day of golf. It has all the fittings of a championship-level course, including a full driving range.

Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is located just to the south-east of Melbourne and is a popular tourist destination well-known for its beaches and wineries. It also happens to be golfing heaven and is being developed as Australias home of golf. With over 15 courses located within 30 minutes of each other, the peninsula’s natural coastal topography is perfect for links­style layouts and includes challenging courses designed by golfing greats such as Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Robert Trent Jones, and Tom Doak.

While some new courses are being built there are also some iconic courses such as Moonah Links Golf Club, housing the Australian Golf Union Headquarters and Australian Golf Museum. The Open course was specifically designed for the Australian Open and has hosted the event with more planned for the future. The course sits within the rolling hills of the peninsula, between the rugged back beaches and calm blues waters of Port Phillip Bay. It is located beside one of Victoria’s most popular award winning tourism attractions, the Peninsula Hot Springs, and neighbouring The Cups Estate winery. Guests of Peppers Moonah Links Resort can experience the very best that the Mornington Peninsula has to offer, and the resort provides stylish accommodation with a range of suites that overlook the golf course.

You can also head to The Dunes, a Scottish style links layout which embraces the natural features of the location. Players can battle with wind and other elements, with the course winding through valleys and across gentle hills.

Other notable courses in the area include the three courses at The National Golf Club, Eagle Ridge Golf Course, the RACV Cape Schanck Resort, and the scenic Flinders Golf Club which looks out to the ocean giving players a superb view of Bass Straight. If Mornington Peninsula has not satisfied your golf cravings, you can cross the bay by car ferry and visit some of the amazing courses at Bellarine Peninsula.

Bellarine Peninsula

The beautiful Bellarine Peninsula has seen a rapid growth of golf course development in recent years and boasts coastal landscapes with courses set in behind the sand dunes. The region features a dozen courses, all easily reached from local accommodation. Victoria’s second largest city Geelong, is the gateway to the region and offers hotels, restaurants, department stores, and accommodation for every budget. Queenscliff is also a great place to visit with its grand Victorian hotels, antique stores and restaurants.

Golfers can play the well-established Barwon Heads course, which is constantly rated as one of Australia’s best. While not especially long, the course tests golfers of all standards with cleverly positioned hazards, subtle slopes and greens, and an open setting. It’s historical clubhouse provides recently refurbished accommodation with rooms overlooking the course and the spectacular coastline.

Queenscliff Golf Club is another ‘must-play’ course. Located on Swan Island, the base is pure sand which makes it playable in all weather. In summer conditions the greens will be watered and the fast running fairways will provide a true links experience.

Yarra Valley

Famous for its natural beauty and wineries, restaurants and weekend retreats, the Yarra Valley is a region golfers may never want to leave.

Just 40 minutes north-east of Melbourne is the beautifully manicured St John’s Golf Course and Henley Course at the Heritage Golf and Country Club. This integrated golf resort offers a hotel, spa retreat, bars and restaurants. St John’s is one of only two Jack Nicklaus designed signature courses in Australia. Sculptured bunkers, lakes and undulating greens offer a fantastic challenge, while the second course at the club, the Henley, provides another 36 holes of superb golf.

The Eastern Golf Club was designed by Greg Norman, and is Victoria’s newest golf course. The club was relocated after the sale of its prime land in Doncaster, and found a new home at Yering in the heart of the Yarra Valley. Eastern is now on the doorstep of some of the state’s best wineries, eateries and tourism experiences, while being just 45 minutes from central Melbourne. The 27 holes offer several course combinations and along with the nine-hole par 3 course, it is recognised as an exceptional layout. The club has worked hard to be a family friendly attraction with a variety of activities other than golf for visitors young and old.

Eastern Golf clubs on-site Yering Gorge Cottages offer private accomodation and guests are welcome to play at the member only course on the banks of the Yarra River. Each cottage comes with its own golf buggy. The Cottages are surrounded by 12 kilometres of walking trails, where abundant native wildlife including swamp wallabies, grey kangaroos and echidnas can be found.

The Murray Courses

Forming the border between Victoria and New South Wales, the Murray River is home to paddle-steamers, rich pioneer history and a host of spectacular resort golf courses.

A favourable climate and conditions allow year-round golf in the region, and many of the Murray’s courses are as famous for the food and entertainment offered at their large clubhouses as they are for the challenging golf. Many also have on-course accommodation, so you can roll straight out of bed and onto the first tee.

Peter Thomson designed several courses in the region. Some are on the banks of the beautiful river and have fairways lined with river red gum trees making it a truly Australian setting for golf.

Along the Murray you can test yourself at all-season  courses including Cobram Barooga, Coomealla, Murray Downs, Rich River, Tocumwal and Yarrawonga. Then finish your round at one of the many famous Murray wineries.

The Murray River region was recently named the Australian Golf Industry Council’s top golfing destination. All up there are more than 20 courses in the region to choose from, boasting affordable green fees and accommodation that caters well for larger groups. Several of the courses have more than 18 holes, and driving ranges attached.

Melbourne is a wonderful destination – a cosmopolitan city where you can immerse yourself in world class culture, entertainment and hospitality. Visitors willing to venture beyond the city will find an enticing mix of top-quality golf experiences along with relaxation, heritage and exceptional food and wine.

Visit www.WorldCupOfGolf.com and www.visitvictoria.com for more information.

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