13th Beach (Creek Course)

13th-Beach-Creek-Course

The second course at 13th Beach Golf Links, the Creek Course, was designed by Tony Cashmore in conjunction with 6-time major championship winner Sir Nick Faldo and is a worthy and wonderful compliment to the Beach Course. It was opened for play in 2004.

The Creek Course has languidly rolling couch fairways and substantial vertically faced bunkers that rarely let you escape without appropriate penalty. Thankfully is has medium sized, firm putting surfaces that add intrigue with hollows, chasms and bumps that stimulate your creativity with short game.  There are plenty of examples of greenside bunkering that cuts into, and helps mould, the slopes of the putting surfaces. This mirrors the best traditions of Melbourne’s Sandbelt – much admired by Faldo and a cornerstone of his design philosophy.

The native couch fairways are over sewn with fescue grass. This provides both an excellent, green playing surface year-round, and a quick transition back to couch dominance once the warmth of spring is apparent. Beyond the fairways there is generally a wide zone of maintained short rough prior to either long pasture grasses or the residential areas which thankfully do not encroach adversely. There are some quirky elements too, like the ‘square cut’ tees, the creek itself and the creative use of a few remaining pines in hole strategy.

Despite this course not being as blessed genetically as its colossal coastal dune sibling and therefore being consigned to live in the shadow of The Beach Course, The Creek Course is still a fabulous track. Its main points of difference are established lakes, complemented by strategic ponds and creeks nipping at the heels of the landing areas. The long holes and the average length Par 4s are the standout features of the course. Coupled with nicely contoured greens, this provides enough variation from its more recognizable sibling, but both should be played to savour the full 13th Beach experience.

13th Beach (Beach Course)

13th-Beach-Golf-Beach-Course

13th Beach is a 36-hole development that stretches for two miles along Barwon Heads’ famous surfing beach. Designed by Tony Cashmore, and opened in 2001, it is built on a former asparagus farm and features two diverse and spectacular courses.

The older of the two, the Beach Course, starts by taking golfers in a loop away from the shore and through low-lying farming pastures, before turning seaward at the 5th and heading deep into the rugged sandhills for most of the remaining holes. The 5th tee is the beginning of what 13th Beach has become famous for – glorious links terrain. Rolling through a series of dramatic and natural golf holes that look and feel like they were there long before a golf development was planned, it is here that ongoing business is procured, seen to by the dunes, and a convincing series of holes within the substantial valley terrain thick of coastal vegetation.

These sublime short holes are simply magnificent, all are encased by jumbled sand areas and provide a thorough examination of your iron play. The 16th can prove to be the most problematic, despite measuring a mere 90 metres. So exposed is the minute target to gusty breezes, that as you are buffeted on the tee, your mind can convince you how futile it can be to try to strike the green in regulation. With continued variation in length and direction, the long 7th and the medium length 12th that features a green squashed into an amphitheatre sand dune hollow, are certainly memorable. The Par 5 11th plays along a precarious ridge, soon after a classic short 4 awaits at No 13 and the angled 17th is unforgiving if wayward.

Some courses that are links in nature and exposed to frequently harsh coastal winds are designed without sufficient width in the landing areas and feature greens far too small and undulating. Tony Cashmore succeeded in avoiding these penal pitfalls and created a highly regarded and fair test at 13th Beach.

Perhaps these features were the catalyst for a collaboration between several major golfing bodies. 13th Beach has played host to The Victorian Open since 2013, which in more recent years has become a revolutionary tournament that combines European Tour Men and LPGA women on the same course, at the same time, for the same prize money.

Barwon Heads Golf Club

Barwon-Heads-Golf-Course

The Barwon Heads Golf Club was founded in 1907 and moved to its present site on the Bellarine Peninsula in 1921. Designed by the then Professional at Royal Melbourne, Victor East, it is a fabulous links course, shaped originally with horse and plough.

Situated only metres from Victoria’s roaring Surf Coast, with the frequently snarly weather conditions, Barwon Heads is a course reminiscent of famed Irish or Scottish links. The salt breeze blowing over the natural contours of the course and its immaculate greens will have you swear you’re on one of the UK’s elite courses. The undulating terrain, in harmony with the natural features of the land will ensure that you will remember quality time spent at Barwon Heads.

Being a coastal layout with often challenging breezes, you can expect great variation in how the course plays on different days. A combination of varied tee positions, devilishly placed bunkers and hazards, along with beautifully subtle green shapes, the course presents a considerable contest for any player despite not possessing modern length.

The opening stanza of 6 holes feature classic links characteristics. Exposed to the elements, the remaining 12 holes meander through unforgiving coastal tea-tree shrubbery. Being close to the ocean, the earlier holes are outstanding, in particular, the right turning 3rd with its diagonally placed fairway that features a wind-affected carry over harsh wasteland. It can be futile to try to tackle the hole with an overly aggressive line over the wasteland, just to achieve a shorter second to the hillock perched green. The stunning Barwon Coast is viewed from the next two tees, whereas No 6 directs you back in the direction of the stately old Clubhouse. The green on this hole is reminiscent of a UK links experience as it is protected by multiple rough mounds. The course starts to bare its teeth on the remaining journey, becoming more daunting from the tee with potential irregular bounces into damaging rough sectors. Members at Barwon Heads are most proud of the iconic par 3 13th. Barely a postage stamp sized green that features uncompromising undulation, it is fabulous as a bunker-less target and proof that a short to medium length par 3 has a place on every course.

Barwon Heads makes a mockery of the notion that technological advances have diminished the challenge presented on older links courses. If you encounter it on a calm day armed with the latest and greatest of gear, you might be lulled into believing it is there for the taking – too short, too open. However, very rarely will you be blessed with such a day. In all likelihood, the breeze will be up and the vagaries and charm of links golf will see you fighting for a respectable card.

The links at Barwon Heads regularly rates in Australia’s top golf courses and is a mainstay in the top 10 rated public access courses in the country. This is classic ‘old school’ and if you love to play the game in its purest form amongst relatively treeless terrain, don’t miss the opportunity presented here!

Package Details

  • 2 nights’ accommodation at Barwon Heads Golf Club, or similar
  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Hotel Sorrento, or similar
  • Breakfast included each morning
  • 1 game of golf at Barwon Heads Golf Club
  • 1 game of golf at 13th Beach (Beach course)
  • 1 game of golf at 13th Beach (Creek course)
  • 1 game of golf at St Andrews Beach
  • 1 game of golf at The Dunes
  • 1 game of golf at Moonah Links (Open or Legends)
  • Ferry across Port Phillip Bay between Bellarine & Mornington Peninsulas
  • Self-drive rental vehicle (option available for private transfers with driver)

 From A$1,447.00 per person twin share

Spyglass Hill

Spyglass-Hill-17th-Hole

Is there a more stirring start to a round than the first five holes at Spyglass Hill?

Another absolute gem in Carmel, albeit somewhat in the shadow of its sister course Pebble Beach, which has been described as the Greatest Meeting of Land and Sea. Perhaps then, Spyglass Hill should be dubbed the Greatest Meeting of Sand and Trees!

Perennially categorized as one of the toughest courses in the US, Spyglass Hill will challenge and thrill you. Designed in 1966 by famed architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., this incredible golfing landscape is tucked into the unique snow-white sand dunes and majestic Monterey Pines of Pebble Beach. Jones Sr. saw a chance to build his own sandy Pine Valley – this one with an exceptional ocean view – for the first five holes, before sending the rest of the course quietly into nature while traversing rolling hummocks and valleys – a lot like Augusta. The defining takeaway at Spyglass Hill is how starkly the first five holes juxtapose the rest of your round. Sweeping ocean views with holes darting though a daring dunescape, give way to the understated natural beauty and brawn of the Del Monte Forest.

Spyglass Hill has been a tournament course since birth. In 1967, Spyglass Hill joined the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am rotation. Mr Crosby was so confident in the championship-calibre of Spyglass Hill that he bet none other than Jack Nicklaus that he wouldn’t break par in his first round there. (Nicklaus shot a 2-under 70 and has a framed $5 bill signed from Crosby to commemorate the occasion). Many agree it is the best course yet to have hosted a Major, some would argue having hosted a US Amateur Championship, it has therefore indeed hosted at golf’s highest level.

The Par 4, 370-yard 4th hole is Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s favourite par-4 he ever designed. One cannot help but admire the wild green sunken between sand dunes. The putting surface is just 10 yards wide at its most forgiving, but some 55 yards deep. As the course transitions from links to soaring majestic pine framed holes, the man who created the modern versions of No. 11 and No. 16 at Augusta National by adding water hazards and beefed up putting surfaces brought that same aesthetic to the back 9 of this masterpiece. It’s hard to identify signature holes amongst this section, for they are all magnificent … but for The Golf Travel Agency team, the closing 3 consecutive Par 4s are memorable for their challenge and beauty.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble-Beach-Golf-Links

Not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one too, with 9 holes perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf – the 4th through 10th plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble’s 6th through 8th are golf’s real Amen Corner. Any golfer, regardless of their experience and skill level, will be tested rigorously in this famed stretch of holes.

Jack Nicklaus has stated on many occasions that if he had only one round of golf left it would be played at this most iconic of American courses. Perennially ranked in the Top 10 in the US and practically always ranked No 1 in public access, a golfing visit to Carmel must include a round at Pebble Beach, accompanied by a luxurious stay at the famed Pebble Beach Lodge. As a golfer, the tradition of staying at The Lodge while overlooking the most famous finishing hole in the game is a proud rite of passage.

Pebble has hosted multiple US Opens and created many memorable moments, such as Jack Nicklaus’ incredible 1 iron shot in 1972 that collected the flag and finished inches from the hole at No 17 on the way to his 3rd of 4 US Open triumphs. The same hole saw Tom Watson’s dramatic chip in from gnarly green side rough in the 1982 US Open, the momentum gained from this outrageously good shot propelling him to a last hole birdie and a 2-shot victory over Nicklaus himself. In more recent times, in perhaps the greatest stretch of Championship golf ever played, a young Tiger Woods decimated the field with a 15-stroke victory at Pebble. The Open in 2019 saw Gary Woodland produce magic of his own at 17 with a deft chip (played from the putting surface) from one side of the green to the other to help secure victory from Brooks Koepka.

Not unlike a pilgrimage to The Masters at Augusta National, Pebble Beach is the equivalent bucket list of golf playing experiences.