For 100 years, the Great Ocean Road has been the gateway to one of the most iconic and beautiful coastlines in Australia, perhaps the world. And if you want to take in these breathtaking sights, we suggest you take your golf clubs with you.
Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is famous as a spectacular touring route that boasts some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world. Home to quaint seaside towns, white sandy beaches, rainforests, bushland and an abundance of native wildlife – the Great Ocean Road is not just a beautiful driving destination, but the ideal location to experience the great outdoors.
Many, for example, choose to venture along the Great Ocean Walk, from Apollo Bay to the magnificent 12 Apostles, which weaves through beautiful parks, deserted beaches and rugged coastline. Others, find their own way to soak in the amazing natural attractions and also reserve time to play some of the wonderful golf courses along the route between Torquay – about 80 minutes’ drive from Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge – and west to Port Fairy.
THE SANDS TORQUAY
The Sands Torquay is aiming to re-establish itself as one of the premier golf courses in the region after the resort and golf course were sold in February last year to former Morgan and Stanley executive Jack Dahan.
The sale came after several years of decline under the previous owners – a group of Chinese companies – who ultimately went into administration in July 2020 before receivers sold the property.
Investment in the Stuart Appleby and International Management Group-designed layout has begun and significant improvement is already noticeable.
Bunkering at The Sands is a real and significant feature, not just for the number of them but also the deception of distance created by the placement of many of the sandy hazards. While some bunkers have been filled since the course opened in 2004, you will do well to go through a round here without getting some sand in your shoes.
RACV TORQUAY RESORT
Perched within the backdrop of the Torquay and Jan Juc beaches, RACV Torquay Resort is set on an expansive course with spectacular ocean views and direct beach access.
The 18-hole links-style layout was extensively redesigned by Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Clayton in 2013 and features wide couch fairways, fescue roughs, wetlands and ocean views.
Firm conditions and the ever-present wind, which goes hand-in-hand with its coastal location, encourage the links-style ground game and Ogilvy/Clayton’s creation takes this into account. For example, the simple bunkering is relatively small but in many cases the surrounds are contoured to feed balls into the sand. The greens feature subtle slopes and are receptive to running shots, especially played from the correct side of the fairway.
Four holes on the front nine are played around a large salt marsh that has been created to help with drainage and improve the look of the layout.
ANGLESEA GOLF CLUB
Located at the eastern gateway to the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea is a picturesque seaside town that really swells in population during the summer months.
One of the favourite attractions for tourists is the Anglesea course – a wonderful par-73 layout, which is also home to hundreds of Eastern Grey kangaroos (you can even book a family tour of the course to view the kangaroos).
For golfers the real attraction is the Vern Morcom-designed layout, which features gum tree-lined fairways and bunkering that looks remarkably similar to those found on Melbourne’s famous Sandbelt courses.
RIGHT: Anglesea features Sandbelt style bunkering on the other side of Victoria. PHOTO: Brendan James.
There are more than 40 bunkers scattered around the course and they have been well positioned to add to the challenge of the design that twists and turns across the undulating terrain.
Your score can really be made or broken on the front nine. There are three par-5s and a short par-4 that present birdie opportunities for better players but stern tests occur in between.
The most difficult par-3 at Anglesea is the 176-metre uphill 6th hole, where good scoring over the opening five holes can come to a halt with poor club selection or a mis-hit here. A narrow opening between the front bunkers allows you to run a tee shot onto the green, which slopes markedly from right to left.
The par-5 8th hole is a definite birdie chance for most players. At 461 metres, the hole doglegs sharply left and plunges downhill before rising again on approach to the green. There are two definite playing lines en route to the green. Longer hitters can drive over the tree line down the left side, while other players can stick to the right but they need to avoid a sandy wasteland and a fairway bunker.
LORNE COUNTRY CLUB
With its fresh sea air, white beaches and relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, Lorne has been attracting holiday makers for more than a century.
Whether you’re staying overnight or just passing through, take time out to wander down Lorne’s main shopping strip, which features boutiques, cellars, fine cafes and restaurants.
Lorne Country Club, which opened for play in 1968, is perched high above the town and affords spectacular views across Louttit Bay and the Southern Ocean from the clubhouse and various parts of course.
The nine-hole layout – which is home to an array of native fauna, including kangaroos, kookaburras and koalas – weaves its way up and down as well as across the hillside beneath the clubhouse and there are few, if any, genuine flat lies thus adding to the challenge of hitting straight shots into the small greens.
Lorne’s most memorable hole opens the round. The 480-metre par-5 climbs to the top of a small rise and the best driving line over the crest is marked for your convenience. Once over the hill, the fairway sweeps down and to the right bringing the green, and the ocean off in the distance, into view.
Lorne boasts three very different par-3s adding to the fun of a round here. The uphill 143-metre 2nd is a gem, with a terraced green that lies diagonally – short right to long left – to your tee shot with a crater-like bunker cut into the hill short and halfway along the putting surface. The preferred miss here is definitely to the right of the putting surface, otherwise a tough up-and-down will follow.
The 124-metre 5th hole is likely to yield as many bogeys and double bogeys as it does birdies. Played from an elevated tee, the kidney-shaped green is separated from its heavily treed surrounds by a bunker left and a much larger, sprawling sandy hazard to the right. It is a great short hole, especially when the wind is strong off the water from the left.