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!

Moonah Links – Legends Course

Moonah-Links-Legends-Golf-Course

The Moonah Links Legends Course is a tribute to champion golfers and each hole is named after a Legend of the game. It is an immensely enjoyable course with friendly fairways and firm and true greens set in a captivating, sandy landscape. The variety of holes is what makes The Legends Course so much fun from the 1st tee shot to the final putt on 18. The on-site Peppers Moonah Links Resort is one of the options that The Golf Travel Agency recommend for Mornington Peninsula golf holidays and offers first class accommodation, restaurant and spa with consistently excellent service.

Moonah Links – Open Course

Moonah-Links-Open-Golf-Course

The Moonah Links Golf Resort was built to be ‘The Home of Australian Golf’ and its Open course was conceived and constructed to host the national Open – which it did in 2003 & 2005. At 6,829m off the tips, The Open course is comfortably the longest highly-ranked golf course in Australia, but there are (thankfully) many other sets of tees from which to tackle this vast course. Length is not its only defence either, as the ever-present wind here varies greatly in direction and strength and affects the demands of each hole. Play The Open course at Moonah Links if you want a real taste of modern Championship golf.

The National Golf Club – Moonah Course

The-National-Golf-Club-Moonah-Course

The Moonah course at the National Golf Club was designed by Greg Norman and represents some of his best work. The Moonah is a vastly different test to its sister, The Old Course, as it is located in front of the stunning clubhouse among the rolling dunes of the The Cups region rather than on the wooded hillside behind it. It is a stern challenge (especially from the black tees at 6,600m) despite wide fairways and semi-rough. The greens typically have multiple sections to them – just make sure you hit the right section to two-putt the hole!

Sorrento Golf Club

Sorrento-Golf-Club

Sorrento Golf Club, like its neighbour – Portsea, is another of the Mornington Peninsula’s somewhat hidden golfing gems. It is a members’ club but opportunities exist for visitors to enjoy the immaculately presented course year-round. Sorrento is an undulating, well bunkered course whose wide fairways are often framed by densely wooded plantations. At times, it has almost a parkland feel to its layout, but the tight, firm, sand-based turf beneath your feet remind you of the course’s links character and heritage.

Portsea Golf Club

Portsea-Golf-Club

Located at the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula, Portsea Golf Club can sometimes be overlooked in comparison to its more illustrious neighbours. But make no mistake, the course is worthy of inclusion in any Mornington Peninsula golf holiday itinerary. Portsea boasts a wonderful array of holes, ocean views, perfect playing conditions and a members-club charm that will make you glad you made the effort to play it. The course is complemented by a striking, modern clubhouse and is also the home for the Mercure Portsea offering boutique accommodation.

St Andrews Beach Golf Course

St Andrews Beach

Designed by Tom Doak and Michael Clayton, St Andrews Beach opened to great acclaim in 2006. It is a links-style course that winds its way through dunes and valleys and features some spectacular holes – the 2nd and 3rd are instant classics. There are the rugged, strategic bunkers, elevated tee positions and quirky architectural nuances of a great links golf course throughout. The clubhouse is simple and unpretentious, but the golf course is why you’re here and St Andrews Beach does not disappoint.

The Dunes Golf Links

The-Dunes-Golf-Links

“Links golf is real golf; The Dunes is real golf”. The Dunes Golf Links consistently ranks as The Mornington Peninsula and indeed Victoria’s top ranked, publicly accessible golf course. The success and enduring popularity of The Dunes is testament to its superb layout and conditioning. It manages to provide a serious challenge for the low marker without being a monster for the high handicapper. The Dunes’ excellence is credited with inspiring the renaissance towards links golf in Australia and it has at least one very famous fan – “I love all the peninsula courses but The Dunes stands out. A funky layout that is so much fun to play.” (Jason Day)