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.
PORT FAIRY GOLF CLUB
While the Warrnambool course offers the occasional glimpse of the sea, the links layout at Port Fairy – just 20 minutes’ drive to the west – takes you so close to the water you can feel the spray on your face some days.
Port Fairy’s natural setting encapsulates all the endearing qualities of the great links layouts of Britain and Ireland with wild windswept holes rolling between and over sand dunes.
Port Fairy would not be out of place on the east coast of Scotland or along an isolated beach in north-western Ireland. Instead, it is 300 kilometres west of Melbourne on a stretch of coastline seemingly purpose built by Mother Nature to be home to a links course.
Routed along rows of rolling unspoilt sand dunes, Port Fairy is a classic links where no two days on course are the same, thanks to the wind, but the golf is fun, not brutal.
Golf has been played on the present site since 1963, even though the Port Fairy Golf Club was first founded in 1901. It was a nine-hole layout for more than 20 years before expanding to 18 holes in 1985. In 2000, the club commissioned Mike Clayton to oversee any further changes to the layout and he has been advising them ever since.
The improvement in the design and quality of the playing surfaces at Port Fairy during the past two decades has seen it rise to become one of Australia’s finest layouts. In January this year, it was No.28 in Golf Australia magazine’s Top-100 Courses ranking.
It is easy to see why golfers from near and far have been inspired to make the journey to this relatively remote par-72 by the sea. The golf aside, there are awesome views of the Southern Ocean from several holes and between June and October it is possible to see whales breaching just offshore.
The front nine holes have been laid among the dunes furthest from the beach and run predominantly east and west. The one exception is the 122-metre par-3 8th that is played to the north and is easily affected by the prevailing south westerly winds blowing high struck tee shots to the right of the green and two deep bunkers.
Port Fairy’s most exciting holes are incorporated into the stretch from the par-3 11th to par-4 16th. The ocean comes into view for the first time as you walk onto the tee of the 465-metre par-5 12th. It is a straightforward three-shotter with out-of-bounds on the beach to the right of the fairway and tall Marram grass rough to the left. The key here is not to be distracted by the view and keep your shots low out of the wind.
The toughest of Port Fairy’s holes is the 408-metre par-4 14th where, again, out-of-bounds lines the right of the fairway. When the wind is blowing hard off the sea from the right it might be necessary to hit your drive out over the boundary fence to allow the wind to bring back into the middle of the fairway. The second shot here is breathtaking. It doesn’t get much better than having to play any number of clubs (depending on the wind strength) from a downhill lie to a small green set against a Southern Ocean backdrop.
A spectacular redesign of the 178-metre par-3 15th in 2006 changed the direction of the hole to run along the coastline and it has proven to be a masterstroke. The 15th has now become the hardest par-3 on the course and is widely regarded as one of the best one-shot holes in Victoria.
Generally, the playing conditions here are firm and fast and being able to control your ball close to the ground and out of the wind is vital for good scoring – just like playing the revered links courses of Great Britain and Ireland.
WHERE TO STAY
ALLOGGIO & GREAT OCEAN ROAD HOLIDAYS
Alloggio’ in Italian means accommodation, and that’s what they do.
Alloggio is the leading consolidator of short-term holiday accommodation in Australia, including along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
If you are looking for Great Ocean Road accommodation, look no further. Alloggio’s reach extends the length of the road from holiday homes in Torquay, to little beach shacks in Anglesea, sprawling luxury family homes in Aireys Inlet and cosmopolitan apartments in Lorne. Then there are warm fireplaces in Wye River to salty, sun drenched balconies in Apollo Bay – every possible taste and budget is covered.
Great Ocean Road Holidays professionally manage more than 600 holiday home accommodation rentals in Aireys Inlet, Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Fairhaven, Wye River and more. They have operated for more than 40 years and guarantee the best price and even better service.
Some properties include:
Multiple pavilions combine beautifully to provide intimate spaces within a home of enormous proportions, boasting uninterrupted views to Lorne and out to the Southern Ocean.
The four-bedroom, three-bathroom residence (pictured above) has been meticulously crafted using handpicked material and recycled timber. Featuring stone bench tops, floor to ceiling glass, exposed beams and ornate tiling the residence has been completed to a standard seldom seen. An open kitchen, living, dining space, open onto the spacious ocean facing deck.
Nestled within the Otway forests, hidden high on a ridge with spectacular views as far as the eye can see, this Tony Hobba-designed property (pictured above) will take your breath away. Providing rarefied seclusion yet located only minutes from Aireys Inlet surf, shops and cafes, Narriyu is as much a luxurious exclusive retreat as it is a beach house.
The Pole House
The Pole House is widely known as the most photographed house on the Great Ocean Road.
Suspended 40 metres above Fairhaven Beach, the Pole House is one of Australia’s most iconic homes. Recently renovated, the Pole House now adds a luxurious modern setting to a holiday experience. Picture yourself waking to the sound of crashing waves, opening your eyes to find yourself suspended above the most spectacular coastline in the country.
Located in the idyllic coastal village of Peterborough, at the mouth of the Curdies River on the Great Ocean Road, Peterborough House is the perfect destination for your next golf getaway.
The newly refurbished motel accommodation has a range of light and spacious rooms that take advantage of the beautiful gardens. You can enjoy the perfect balance of relaxation and access to the area’s stunning sites, coastal walks, beaches and, of course, the cliff-top golf course.
All guests have laundry facility access, as well as access to the enclosed, expansive garden and beautiful pavilion, the perfect spot for a morning coffee, afternoon reading session or post-round beverage.
WHERE TO PLAY
THE SANDS, TORQUAY
Green fees: $60 (18 holes, off-peak times), $70 (peak times)
RACV TORQUAY RESORT
Green fees: $74 (18 holes, off-peak times), $85 (peak times). Discounts for RACV members.
Green fee: $60 (18 holes, weekdays), $65 (weekends).
Green fee: $35 (18 holes).
APOLLO BAY GC
Green fee: $25 (all day ticket).
Green fee: $20 (all day ticket), $60 (weekly ticket).
Phone: (03) 5598 5245
WARRNAMBOOL GOLF CLUB
Green fee: $49 (18 holes), $15 (juniors under 18).
PORT FAIRY GOLF LINKS
Green fee: $59 (18 holes, Sunday to Friday), $69 (Saturday).