The star of arguably the most underrated course on the Melbourne Sandbelt has started to rise.
The Melbourne Sandbelt is world renowned for the quality of its courses with the likes of Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Commonwealth, Huntingdale, Yarra Yarra, Victoria, Huntingdale and Woodlands all regularly lauded by experts as “great”.
For years, Spring Valley was rarely mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned list of courses, but more recently it has emerged from the shadow of its more famous neighbours to grab a share of the limelight. The secret is out … Spring Valley quite rightly deserves its place alongside the stars of the Sandbelt as it offers quality design, terrific playing surfaces and, ultimately, it’s as much fun to play as any other course in Melbourne.
All of this should hardly be surprising given its pedigree.
The early days of the Spring Valley Golf Club are not dissimilar to many clubs that now call the Sandbelt home. The club began its existence outside the Sandbelt and, like the founding members of several nearby courses, the fledgling Spring Valley turned to Vern Morcom to create its course.
The first rumblings to move from its first site in Dandenong began in 1947. The club, then known as the Forest Hills public course, began looking for land in the Sandbelt and within two years a site was found. Work on clearing what was part native scrub and part market garden began in January 1949 and two and a half years later Morcom’s creation was ready for play.
While the routing has remained the same over the years, all of the holes were initially redesigned by Mike Clayton in 2011, while the design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead (OCCM) remain consultants to the layout.
“If there is one observation to be made of the Melbourne Sandbelt courses as a collective it is that they all boast a wonderful collection of par-3s. Spring Valley is no different.”
In the 18-hole redesign, Clayton revamped Morcom’s bunkering, new greens were built and tees repositioned to reward strategically good play, which is now one of the strengths of the layout.
The 377-metre opening hole is a good medium length par-4 turning from left-to-right. Most players will want to play down the left half of the fairway, but this presents a longer, more difficult second shot into the green, where the Morcom-style of bunkering becomes immediately apparent.
There will be times during your round at Spring Valley when you will inevitably find yourself comparing holes you’re playing with more noted ones at Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne. This is hardly surprising given the prolific amount of construction and design work the Morcoms – both Vern, and his father, Mick – did throughout the Sandbelt whilst still maintaining their jobs as curators at the ‘Heath’ and ‘Royal’ respectively.
For example, the design of the 386-metre par-4 2nd encourages the same strategy that is needed to play the classic 17th hole of the West course at Royal Melbourne. The dogleg left calls for a right-to-left tee shot to be shaped around the fairway traps on the inside corner of the dogleg. Skirting the edge of the bunkers will leave a shorter and more direct approach to the green, past the bunkers that protect the right half of the putting surface.
If there is one observation to be made of the Melbourne Sandbelt courses as a collective it is that they all boast a wonderful collection of par-3s. Spring Valley is no different.
The 155-metre 5th hole is a superb one-shotter where the angle of the green, across the line of your tee shot, makes it a tough one to hit in regulation. Ideally, the tee shot needs to turn slightly from right-to-left to fly up the length of the green, to try and avoid the bunker cut into the right, back edge of the putting surface.
One of the best short par-3s in the Sandbelt opens the back nine. The 134-metre 10th has been criticised by some as being too severe because of the shape and size of the putting surface as well as the severity of the deep bunkers that ring the green. But there are far more penal par-3s to be found elsewhere and this offering, for such a short hole, simply rewards the player, who hits a good tee shot, with a birdie chance. The bad tee shot likely makes bogey.
Spring Valley offers a grandstand finish to a round with the 377-metre par-4 18th, which finishes in full view of the magnificent modern clubhouse. A crop of bunkers, separating the 18th fairway with the adjoining 11th fairway to the right, is best avoided with a drive into the left half of cut portion. The second shot is uphill to a large green featuring three bunkers short and left and another trap to the right. They are majestic hazards that would not be out of place on any of the more famous Sandbelt layouts.
In the 2018 ranking of Australia’s Top-100 Courses, Spring Valley claimed No.42 spot in the list. The year-on-year improvement being made, through minor tweaks to the design and maintaining of its high standard of presentation, suggests it won’t be long before Spring Valley is pushing for higher honours.
LOCATION: 619 Heatherton Rd, Clayton South, Victoria.
CONTACT: (07) 9562 3811
DESIGNERS: Vern Morcom (1948), Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Michael Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (2011 and ongoing)
SLOPE RATINGS: MEN: 128 (blue tees), 124 (white), 116 (green). WOMEN: 131 (red).
PLAYING SURFACES: Santa Ana couch (fairways and tees), bentgrass and poa annua (greens).
GREEN FEES: $110 (Visitors, 18 holes, weekdays), $130 (weekends). Typically there is limited availability for visitors on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. $75 (member’s guest).
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: David Phillips.
PGA PROFESSIONALS: Martin Joyce, Anthony Smith, Daniel Griffin, Elissa Orr.
MEMBERSHIP: There are seven membership categories currently being offered at Spring Valley, including the top level full seven-day membership ($4,156), six-day membership ($3,517) as well as an Under-30 membership, which is a sliding scale subscription six- and seven-day playing rights. Junior memberships are also offered with full playing rights and no entrance fee ($615).
PRACTICE FACILITIES: Spring Valley is synonymous with the name Home of Elite Golf as it is the base facility for VIS and Golf Victoria’s Elite Players Program, under the tutelage of Marty Joyce Golf Academy. Marty Joyce is one of Australia’s most renowned golf coaches and is currently the head coach of VIS and Golf Australia’s National Coach
The players under the VIS and Golf Victoria’s program regularly train at Spring Valley’s Heatherton Range or can be seen practicing on the short game hole area or putting green area. They also train regularly by playing on the golf course.
Top players in the state are enjoying the same facility for members of Spring Valley Golf Club.
In all, Spring Valley has two driving ranges, a complete 19th hole short game area, a large putting green next to the clubhouse and a Titleist National Fitting Centre is centrally located next to the Heatherton Driving Range.
CORPORATE GOLF: Spring Valley provides the ideal opportunity to spend quality time with your clients in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere at a professionally and expertly-run event tailored to your specific requirements.
Monday and Fridays are the preferred day for corporate groups, although Tuesdays and Sunday afternoons are available on request.