Richard Clapton released that great track, Down in the Lucky Country, 43 years ago. But it’s a message that still rings true today.
We’re all well aware that the coronavirus has effectively wiped out most international travel for the time being. But there are still plenty of positives to take from our current situation, especially when you consider how wonderful our own backyard is.
We, as Australian golfers, are spoilt for choice when it comes to domestic golf – from the great world-class courses in our capital cities to the gems to be found in regional areas right across the nation.
So let’s not dwell on the fact we can’t travel overseas at the moment. Let’s celebrate the fact we’re living in one of the finest golfing nations in the world and use this time as an opportunity to discover – or rediscover – some of our best local destinations.
The following story is dedicated to showcasing some of Australia’s finest golf getaways and tours for 2021. Enjoy.
VICTORIA GOLF CLUB
Regularly ranked in the Top-100 golf courses in the world, the Victoria Golf Club is one of the truly wonderful experiences that visitors can easily enjoy.
The club was founded back in 1903 and moved to the current Cheltenham site, across the road from the famed Royal Melbourne Golf Club back in 1927. With almost 100 years at the site, and as with its Sandbelt peers, the course has hosted the very best players in the world.
The club has also produced great players including arguably Australia’s best ever golfer, Peter Thomson, who joined the club as a 16-year-old in 1946 and remained a member until his passing in 2018 – a photograph at his statute near the 10th tee is a memory to keep. 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was 15 when he joined and 2018 US Amateur champion Gabi Ruffels joined as an 11-year-old – and both remain members. You might even bump into them at the club.
The course was laid out by two members who did a remarkable job – and the doyen of golf architecture Alister MacKenzie assisted them with some insights while he was in Melbourne working at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The course typifies the wonderful MacKenzie bunkering.
In 2018, the Club undertook an industry-leading renovation of the course which entailed the replacement of each and every green on the course. It was a fantastic project and both members and visitors alike are effusive in their praise with comments that they are now amongst the best surfaces in the country.
While the surfaces are world-class, the design is comparable with a wonderful array of challenging yet eminently playable holes. Holes 11 through 16 will play a significant role in determining your score. Holes 11, 12 and 13 are all par-4s requiring accuracy and placement off the tee followed by an approach shot to the ‘right spot’ on the green to hopefully allow the player to make a putt.
The 14th hole is a tricky uphill par-3 requiring the most precise of tee shots – missing the green will make par unlikely. The 15th is perhaps the most interesting – anything from a driver to a 6-iron – and, again, reaching the green in regulation is essential for par. The 16th typically plays as one of the hardest holes during tournaments and a long iron with careful placement is required to make three.
Green fees: Contact the club for details.
Address: Park Road, Cheltenham, Victroria.
Contact: (03) 9584 1733.
Accommodation: The clubhouse is regarded as one of the best in Australia and includes 15 twin-share accommodation rooms and the contribution of houseguests to the ‘fabric’ of the club is significant with some having visited for more than 50 consecutive years.
The hospitality experiences offered by the club are exceptional and the awe of first-time guests ensures that they become regular visitors to the club.
The club is ideally situated to be a base for a Melbourne Sandbelt experience.
A recent overseas house guest noted: “I have been fortunate enough to play many of the great courses of the world, but yet to come across a better mix of course and hospitality as I experienced last week at Victoria Golf Club.”
Victoria GC hopes that you, too, love the experience of playing here in the Melbourne Sandbelt.
PLAY AND STAY PACKAGES
Two nights’ twin-share accommodation, including unlimited golf and all meals, starts from $720 per person midweek and from $820 on weekends. Please call for availability.
BONVILLE GOLF RESORT
Bonville Golf Resort, which many golf writers refer to as “Australia’s Augusta”, has always been focused on providing an “overall experience” to those that visit.
To limit numbers on the property and further enhance the guest experience, Bonville has recently altered its operation and now only allows very limited social play, on Mondays and Tuesdays only.
To play the course at any other time, there are all-inclusive packages on offer. These newly created, stay, play and dine packages encourage guests to focus on a getaway from their day to day lives.
“Our focus has always been on the overall experience that guests have at Bonville. This incorporates friendly customer service, high quality food and beverage offering, a great night’s sleep and the golf course itself” said General Manager, Brad Daymond.
Bonville’s 18-hole, par-72 undulating layout follows the natural contours of the property and gives golfers of all levels the chance to experience something a little different than their home courses. The individual nature of the holes carved through the forest, combined with the elevation changes, natural waterways and beautiful gardens create a superbly unique golfing experience.
Green fees: Contact the Pro Shop on (02) 6653 4544.
Address: North Bonville Road, Bonville, NSW.
Contact: (02) 6653 4002.
Accommodation: Bonville features 30 well-appointed accommodation rooms, including 17 Resort Rooms, eight Executive Spa Rooms and five Executive View Rooms – all overlooking the picturesque 1st fairway. Here, you will enjoy the peace and serenity that Bonville is famed for firsthand.
PLAY AND STAY PACKAGES
Bonville’s all-new stay, play and dine packages include 18 holes of golf, including luxury electric cart hire boasting Visage GPS, ball washers, USB charging ports and comfortable seating, together with onsite overnight accommodation, a three-course à la carte dinner and an à la carte breakfast in the multi award-winning Flooded Gums restaurant. Secure your 2021 Bonville experience from $370 per person mid-week. Call (02) 6653 4002 or email email@example.com to enquire.
GOLF SOUTH COAST
The Golf South Coast in NSW is creating widespread attention within the Australian golfing community, from single-figure handicappers to casual golfers who are looking to experience some of the region’s best courses.
The stretch of pristine coastline is home to the highly revered Hilltop championship course at Mollymook, Club Catalina in Batemans Bay with the Harley Kruse-designed 15th hole and the Narooma Golf Club, which is renowned for its 3rd hole, named “Hogan Hole” after Aussie actor Paul Hogan’s famous TV commercial.
PGA Professional and Mollymook’s manager, Barry West said the formation of Golf South Coast NSW provides individuals, groups and social clubs with a destination to explore the spectacular South Coast of NSW.
“By creating this trail of first-class venues, golfers can be assured they are playing some of the best regional courses in Australia. These clubs regularly host large corporate and PGA Professional events,” West said.
Mollymook Golf Club boasts two stunning golf courses: the nine-hole Beachside Course and 18-hole Hilltop Course. Club Catalina, meanwhile, is located in the heart of Bateman’s Bay and presents a 27-hole championship course. Then there’s Narooma Golf Club, which was ranked 18th in Australia’s Top-100 Public Access Courses for 2021 by Golf Australia magazine.
All three locations are open to visitors year-round, are within easy drive to each other and are between two to three and a half hours from Sydney and Canberra.
The Carter Group, featuring 14 golfers, recently completed the “South Coast Golf Trail” and said: “The group enjoys Catalina as a whole, being able to play it in a variety of ways, with its 27-hole layout and it provides a great challenge.
“Narooma is also a standout course. We loved playing there with its ocean view holes. Our favourite hole among the boys was Hogan’s Hole, rolling down through to forest covered holes. The 11th, was another standout hole for our group.
“Mollymook was a recent inclusion to this trip. A beautiful and challenging course that the group loves to play. We can really see how it’s rated so well.”
Contact Golf South Coast to enquire about its South Coast Golf Trail in 2021.
HORIZONS GOLF RESORT & SEASIDE HOLIDAY RESORT
If you are playing golf in Port Stephens, Horizons is a must play. This 18-hole championship course is open to the public seven days a week, with visitors able to join any of the club’s competitions.
Horizons is surrounded by beautiful bushland and features intricate waterways, stunning fairways, some of the best greens in NSW and a wonderful range of wildlife including koalas, kangaroos and black swans.
The open-air driving range, practice chipping, putting greens and clubhouse café is open through the week, with a drinks cart service on busier days. The professional Pro Shop staff go out of their way to ensure you have a great experience at Horizons. Hire buggies, branded club sets and a fleet of Yamaha golf carts are also available.
Seaside Holiday Resort is located in Fingal Bay, an easy 15-minute drive from Horizons. This property offers 54 two-bedroom & six three-bedroom self-contained units – including six easy access wheelchair accessible units – that can sleep up to six guests. There is an outdoor pool, BBQ and kids play areas on site, with the Fingal Surf Club and Salt restaurant just across the road. Ideal for groups and families alike.
Both Horizons and Seaside Holiday Resort are located close to a wide selection of restaurants, beaches and other fantastic Port Stephens activities, making it a great location for a golf trip away with friends or with the family. Transfer services can also be arranged.
GOLF AT HORIZONS
Green fees: $49 weekdays; $69 weekends (18 holes). Twilight golf $25.
Address: 5 Horizons Drive, Salamander Bay, New South Wales.
Contact: (02) 4982 0474.
STAY AT SEASIDE HOLIDAY RESORT
Address: 48 Marine Drive, Fingal Bay, New South Wales.
Contact: De-Anne on (02) 4981 1533.
PLAY AND STAY PACKAGES
One night stay at Seaside Holiday Resort and 18 holes golf with cart at Horizons for two players is $300. See more one- and two-night packages online or contact the club for a tailored play and stay quote: www.horizons.com.au/stayandplay-seaside