With nearly 30 percent of Australian golf courses being of the nine-hole variety, you don’t have to venture too far to find one that offers plenty of fun without burning a hole in your pocket.
Norfolk Island GC
Historic Norfolk Island is an external Australian territory in the Pacific Ocean about two-and-a-half hours’ flying time northeast of Sydney, making it one of this country’s most isolated communities.
The Norfolk Island course, which dates back to 1913, is located within the oldest of 11 penal sites around Australia that have been classed as World Heritage Site. Located on the south-east coastline of the island, walking the wide fairways here is a visual and golfing splendour.
The sparsely treed layout winds its way across the easy-walking terrain, which hugs every bump, hollow and crease in the landscape crafted by Mother Nature.
There is no better example of this wonderfully natural course architecture than what you will find on the 152-metre par-3 4th hole. The tee is perched above one end of a small boomerang-shaped beach, while the green is slightly obscured behind the cliff at the other end of the beach. It is a daunting tee shot. The putting surface is small and bunkerless. But a steep downslope from the top of the cliff to the right propels balls onto, or across, the green.
Green fee: $27 (nine holes).
Apollo Bay GC
Apollo Bay is found two-and-a-half hours southwest of Melbourne along the Great
The 4,223-metre course (par-64) is set on relatively flat terrain – but it features sweeping sea views and is made challenging by ever-shifting winds. The scenic layout comprises four par-3s and five par-4 holes.
Green fees: $25 (day pass).
Aussie Golf Ranch
Designed by Ross Watson in 2007, Saltwater Creek at Aussie Golf Ranch is located on Phillip Island and provides its guests with an enjoyable, links-like test.
The well-maintained fairways and true-rolling bentgrass greens are superb, while the 17 pot-style bunkers and coastal winds combine to enhance the challenge of any round.
Guests can stay onsite at Aussie Golf Ranch and utilise the Two-Club Pitch & Putt course and the Aussie Bush Mini Golf Course.
Aussie Golf Ranch also hosts the annual Victorian Open Pitch & Putt Championship, which was this year played in mid-October.
Green fees: $20 (nine holes), $30 (day pass, midweek).
Barwon Heads GC – Par-3 Course
In addition to its highly-ranked 18-hole layout, Barwon Heads features an excellent nine-hole, par-3 course that aims to provide “more relaxed” conditions for its members and guests.
First-timers and experienced heads alike will enjoy the dramatic greens of the course, which were originally laid out in 1961 and redesigned by Crafter and Mogford Golf Strategies in recent times.
Green fees: $10 (nine holes).
Set against the foothills of the Otway Ranges, 90 minutes’ drive southwest of Melbourne, Birregurra boasts nine well-maintained holes with scenic views of the Barwon River Flats.
In fact, the view of the surrounding farmland from the elevated 2nd tee of the par-3, known as ‘Niagara’, is worth the green fee alone. Sitting 40 metres below, the green is thankfully bunkerless as it is challenge enough to get your tee shot onto the putting surface.
Green fees: $20 (day pass).
Since opening in 1970, Burnley has offered its guests nine enjoyable holes just five kilometres east of Melbourne’s CBD.
The council-operated course features six par-4s and three par-3s, each boasting well-maintained couch fairways and bentgrass greens.
One of the real highlights comes during the final stretch. The drivable, par-4 8th hole measures just 225 metres from the tips and presents an excellent birdie or eagle chance.
Conversely, the par-3 9th hole stretches to 182 metres and features an undulated,
well-guarded putting surface. Many good rounds have been undone by this testing one-shotter.
Green fees: $21 (nine holes).
With beautiful views of Western Port Bay and Hann’s Inlet, the current nine-hole layout at Cerberus dates back to 1946 – but it has only been open to the public since 1999.
The par-72 was previously reserved for use by defence force personnel, their families and their invited guests, making Cerberus a Mornington Peninsula hidden gem.
Today, members and visitors alike are greeted with tree-lined kikuyu fairways and bentgrass/Poa annua greens. Dual tees create 18 marginally different holes, with the 5,840-metre layout boasting numerous memorable offerings.
The 507-metre 7th hole is one of those. The putting surface, which is reachable in two solid blows, has Western Port Bay and the distant Dandenong Ranges as a backdrop while the tee box lies adjacent to the base’s cemetery.
Green fees: $15 (nine holes).
Cheltenham will celebrate its 90th anniversary next year and continues to provide an enjoyable and scenic challenge in the heart of the Melbourne Sandbelt.
The nine-hole layout is carpeted with Santa Ana couch fairways and poa annua greens,
many of which are guarded by large, Sandbelt-style bunkering.
The 152-metre 4th hole is considered by many to be the signature hole at Cheltenham, where the view from the highest point of the property is truly memorable. The tee is protected from westerly and northerly winds by the surrounding trees and gusty easterlies swirl around the tee, making it hard to predict the ball flight of your tee shot.
Green fees: $25 (nine holes).
Eastern GC – Shark Waters
Since opening in 2017, Shark Waters at Eastern Golf Club has offered members and guests nine par-3s of varying difficulty.
The Greg Norman-designed course features Grand Prix couch fairways and T1 bentgrass greens to match the main, 27-hole course, allowing players the ability to get the best out of their play or practice. So, too, does the figure-eight design flow of the course, which requires golfers to shape shots both left and right.
The 4th and 5th holes measure 120 metres and 102 metres respectively and provide club-selection dilemmas.
Eastern Golf Club has created a Shark Waters golf membership category for those golfers who are starting their golfing journey or those who are unable to play the full course but still want to stay involved in the game.
Green fees: Contact the club for details.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Millionaires’ club, it is safe to say this is not an extravagant golfing retreat but has hosted prominent businessman, politicians and even royalty in its 106-year history.
Of all the courses featured here, this is the most private and requires an invite from a member to play. If you do ever get the chance, you’ll love the experience of this hidden Sandbelt gem. Few holes are better than the opener though. The short downhill par-4 affords players a view of Port Philip Bay in the distance as the fairway descends to the bunkered green.
Green fees: N/A.
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