Golf in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne is unrivalled in Australia for both quality and quantity. Sitting just over 30 minutes from the CBD, on the edge of the famous Sandbelt, The Sandhurst Club offers two of the most recent championship additions to the city’s golfing spoils.

Built on former cow pastures, both the older North (2004) course and more recent Champions (2008) are the work of five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson and long-time design partner Ross Perrett. In addition to the two par-72 courses, featuring expansive bunkering, rolling fairways and views of the Dandenong Ranges, Sandhurst is an
all-inclusive residential community boasting world-class facilities. It’s no wonder the PGA of Australia has called Sandhurst home for more than 10 years.

The North course bares all the hallmarks of a Thomson design, with the layout transporting players to the linksland of Scotland through its looks and required style of play. While the seaside location is lacking, the peaceful mostly undeveloped surrounds and lack of houses lining the majority of fairways give the North its own unique and enjoyable feel.

Named after the diminutive Norman von Nida, the par-3 11th is the shortest hole on the Champions Course. PHOTO: Brendan James

The fairways are generous and wide on the North, with many of the par-4s and 5s sharing mown portions with other holes, making them look almost unmissable from the tee. As always with a Thomson design, however, placement is crucial for the best scoring chances.

Being a long hitter, as always, has its advantages on the older of Sandhurst’s courses, with many of the fairway bunkers open to being carried, particularly from the forward tees, by the stronger player and the rolling fairways propelling the ball forward.

Having played the North course first during my recent visit, standing on the 1st tee of the Champions course the differences in design and required strategy were instantly obvious.

In keeping with the Scottish feel, almost all the greens on the North are receptive to an approach played along the ground and when faced with a chip or pitch the style of approach is left to a player’s imagination. The one exception coming at the par-5 9th hole named “Bluidy Burn”, which requires golfers to negotiate a Scottish-style burn cutting through the fairway just short of the green.

Names are a constant feature at Sandhurst with each hole bearing a unique moniker, with the names on the Champions course paying homage to former winners of the Australian PGA Championship, while the North’s describe the hole or its surrounds.

The final approach to the North Course’s par-5 11th with its double green shared with the 17th hole. PHOTO: Brendan James

The North’s par-3 3rd hole, “Wall”, features one of the most apt names bestowed upon a golf hole. Once again evoking thoughts of golf’s homeland and some of its most recognised layouts with a 1.6-metre wall bordering the entire left and back of the otherwise hazardless par-3’s green. Unlike at North Berwick where the famous wall surrounding the 13th green must be hit over, the L-shaped stone wall simply frames the 181-metre hole’s putting surface.

Despite lacking bunkers the 3rd is a tough challenge when the regularly strong winds are up, something I discovered for myself, having been intimidated by the thought of finding the wrong side of the title feature and taking the coward’s way out, hitting my approach well right of the pin and being forced to scramble for a par.

Unlike the front side, where long wild grass presents the biggest penalty for a missed fairway, the North’s back nine sees the property’s ancient Red River gums come noticeably into play for the first time. With Thomson and Perrett’s stretch of holes from the par-4 10th to the 12th the most enjoyable collection of holes on the course for mine.

The 375-metre 10th uses two large trees to the right, bunkers left and folds in the fairway to deceive players from the tee, making a relatively straightforward tee shot look far more difficult. As with most of the North’s par-4s the fairway narrows the further away from the tee and a dense stand of trees to the right make for a difficult approach shot.

Good club selection and accuracy are needed om the Champions’ par-3 16th hole. PHOTO: Brendan James

“Purgatory”, the par-5 next, is so named for the two large bunkers found in the middle of the fairway. The right wind conditions allow stronger players to challenge the traps and attack the 497-metre hole, but beware a less than ideal strike will often find the sand and make securing par a difficult prospect with five more bunkers dotted throughout the hole.

Similar in distance to the 10th at 391-metres, the par-4 12th rounds out the trio and offers a very different challenge from the preceding two holes. Finding the fairway is crucial at 12 and challenging the right fairway trap will yield the best chance at attacking the green, which is set horizontally to the fairway and drops off to the right and beyond, meaning a pin point mid-iron is required to set-up a birdie chance.

Having played the North course first during my recent visit, standing on the 1st tee of the Champions course the differences in design and required strategy were instantly obvious.

Tighter fairways, which pinch in around the typical driving distances, mean more planning and strategy is required from the tee, with fairway woods and hybrids from the tee for the conservative player a more common occurrence than on the North course.

Thomson and Perrett don’t take the driver from the aggressive player’s hands by any means, but if you opt for the big stick be sure to hit it well and on target with large, well placed fairway bunkers as well as long rough waiting on most holes for errant drives.

The property’s Red River gums are also more prevalent on the Champions course and present more of a hazard lining many of the fairways. As do houses, which are easily seen beyond the green barrier on many holes.

Similarly to the North, the Champions’ early holes are consistent with the overall style of the course before an outlier is presented by the architects, in the form of the par-5 5th and
par-3 6th holes.

Bunkers are in plentiful supply on the North Course. PHOTO: Brendan James.

Named after Jim Ferrier, the par-5 requires distance and accuracy from the tee. Once you have found the fairway the second shot is all-important. A layup short of the second cluster of fairway bunkers is the prudent play, with the 487-metre hole played uphill and the green hidden from view for much of the journey.

The 6th hole, like the 3rd on the North, is without any bunkers. The main challenge of the 195-metre hole coming courtesy of its lack of defining features making judging distance difficult, with a few Red River gums front right and back left the only landmarks.

Miss the green here and the surrounding humps and hollows send the ball off in a variety of directions, meaning par is once again a good score, as it is on all the par-3s at Sandhurst, with the short 11th, named somewhat appropriately after Norman Von Nida, the pick of the par-3s on the Champions course.

Only 137-metres from the plates, with deep bunkers right and left, the 11th plays slightly uphill and over an expansive sandy wasteland, with the almost ever present wind making club selection difficult, thanks in part to the stand of trees behind the green that can leave the flag limp despite a stiff wind.

The Champions course features a slightly stronger finish than the North, with Thomson and Perrett rewarding the aggressive player with short irons and wedges into many of the closing holes while also giving the shorter, more conservative player a chance to run the ball up onto the green. Most noticeably at the brutally long 423-metre final hole, which offers a final view of the distant Dandenong ranges and a typically friendly large green that like all the Champions’ surfaces features subtle rather than dramatic breaks.

Sandhurst’s contrasting layouts present fairly different challenges and reward varied aspects of the game, with the North’s required shot making and premium placed on creativity around the greens giving it a slight edge in my opinion. Although, the strategy required and history lesson about the greats of Australian golf mean the trip around the Champions course is an enjoyable one.

As Sandhurst enters its 14th year the club isn’t resting on its laurels. Ongoing improvements, such as the Matrix bunker work completed on the North in 2017 and slated for the Champions in the future, signal that one of Melbourne’s newest additions will only continue to improve.



LOCATION: 75 Sandhurst Boulevard, Sandhurst, VIC, 3977.

CONTACT: (03) 8787 7011.


DESIGNERS: Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett (2004, North), (2008, Champions).

SLOPE RATINGS: North: 139 (black), 138 (blue), 137 (white) and 129 (red). Champions: 144 (black), 131 (blue), 128 (white) and 132 (red).

PLAYING SURFACES: Legend couch fairways, G2 Creeping bentgrass greens.

GREEN FEES: Sandhurst is a private club but access is available to visitors Sunday to Friday and bookings can be made through the club’s online booking system.

PGA PROFESSIONALS: Nick Bielawski, Christian Hamilton, Yoyo Han and David Thomas (PGA Centre for Learning and Performance).


MEMBERSHIP: Sandhurst offers three membership three levels: Platinum (requires a purchase or lease of shares), Gold and Silver. With sub-categories of seven-, six- and five-day course access available. Family, Intermediate and Junior memberships are also available, with the membership year running March through February and prorated rates available.

RECIPROCAL CLUBS: In addition to arrangements with Bayview GC (NSW), Blackwood GC (SA), Mission Hills Resort (China), Glenmarie Resort (Malaysia) and Tropicana Resort (Malaysia), the club is also part of the Bay Golf Arrangement and is an Affiliate Club of Pacific Links, giving members access to the group’s facilities around the world.

FACILITIES: Combining 36-holes of championship golf, the PGA Centre for Learning and Performance and outstanding practice facilities, Sandhurst’s golf offering is complimented by its sports centre with a basketball court, heated pool, tennis courts and state-of-the-art gym.

EVENTS: With an experienced team, two golf courses, world-class facilities and various room hire options Sandhurst is the perfect place to host a corporate golf event, charity day, wedding, kid’s party or conference.