The rest of the golfing world is starting to discover what we have known for a long time – Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula is among the best golf holiday destinations this country has to offer.
The name really says it all. The Sands, Torquay. The developers of this fine golf course didn’t miss the mark when they bestowed the name upon this layout.
As the name suggests, this course features plenty of sand – in fact there are more than 100 bunkers scattered across the landscape between the 1st tee and the 18th green. And this is marginally less than what was in the ground when the Stuart Appleby-designed layout opened for play in 2004.
There is little doubt Appleby’s design team – which included veteran course designer Brit Stenson from International Management Group Design – was influenced by the bunker work of Dr Alister MacKenzie and his associate Alex Russell in the Melbourne Sandbelt during the 1920s. Appleby, for one, has described the bunkering in the Sandbelt as the best in the world so it should come as no surprise that his first foray into course design would see him try and emulate the best.
The designers did a pretty good job in creating some wonderful bunkering schemes that not only intimidate players visually but also deceive you on the distance remaining on some shots.
"As the name suggests, this course features plenty of sand – in fact there are more than 100 bunkers ..."
The front nine – set among a growing residential development – offers fairways zigzagging between bunkers or wetlands or both. But it is the back nine that will really excite the first-time player as more undulating topography comes into play.
From the championship markers, the 435-metre 11th is the longest and most brutal par-4 on the course. Despite being played downwind on most days, this two-shotter is played uphill past a small grouping of Moonah trees before the fairway splits into two as part of the natural slope and the ideal location for some bunkers. The approach is uphill to a green where only the top of the flag is visible. There is no tougher shot to be found on the course.
The best par-3 at The Sands is its shortest – the 148-metre 13th. The green is perched high above the tee on a ridge and you have to trust your club selection, as most of the green cannot be seen, despite sloping markedly from back to front.
The 400-metre par-4 14th is one of the most beautiful holes at The Sands. Laid out on land that was formerly part of the Torquay rubbish tip, there are seven bunkers ready to halt your progress along this fairway, which is set on the edge of a ridge and features a steep slope down off its right edge. The putting surface is also set carefully on a sideslope, with mis-hits right or long of the green finding inevitable trouble.
WHERE TO STAY
BARWON HEADS RENTAL PROPERTIES
If you have a golfing foursome or two, who want to stay in a house while visiting the Bellarine Peninsula, here are two great options almost tailor-made for visiting golfers.
Black Swan @ Barwon is a five-bedroom house that can accommodate up to eight guests. Situated in a quiet court in the exclusive Seabank Estate you will find this luxury home caters for all your holiday needs.
There is a large decked area with a full outdoor kitchen, a three hole synthetic putting green in the backyard, open plan dining and living area with large LCD TV and Foxtel.
Check out www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/16150877 for more details.
Corymbia @ Barwon is a luxury five-bedroom home also found in the exclusive Seabank Estate and can be configured to accommodate two families, three couples or a group of golfers.
A four-hole synthetic putting green and the outdoor kitchen, large decked area and giant outdoor chess set might just become the most popular gathering nightspot after a day on the course.
Check out www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/22192652 for more details.
BARWON HEADS RESORT
Located on the Thirteenth Beach Golf Links Estate, Barwon Heads Resort has a total of 60 rooms with a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. The resort is perfect for the short or long break and a lovely way to unwind and relax, access the two championship golf courses, the surf beach or onsite pool and gym. The resort has a wide range of packages to suit your needs.
For more information, visit www.13thbeachgolf/cms/accommodation
PEPPERS THE SANDS RESORT
Peppers The Sands Resort, Torquay offers a premium golf resort accommodation experience, just moments from the beautiful beaches of Torquay.
The 112 rooms feature spacious layouts with private balconies or terrace, tasteful furnishings and flat screen TV’s. Suites offer separate lounge and dining spaces. Providing unique points of difference in each of the hotel’s guest rooms redefines the experience as truly individual.
The on-site restaurant and bar provides gourmet dining in a stylish yet casual atmosphere.
Peppers offers a Winter Stay and Play package including accommodation, 18 holes of golf for two people in a shared motorised cart, full hot breakfast, WIFI & parking.
For details visit www.thesandstorquay.com
BARWON HEADS GOLF CLUB
Golfers have been making use of the accommodation facilities within the iconic Barwon Heads Clubhouse since 1924.
There are 19 ensuite rooms available in single, twin or double bedding configuration and a variety of packages available that incorporate your stay with golf. The club has a Winter Escape package during June, July and August, which offers accommodation, breakfast and complimentary golf for up to two guests – Sunday to Thursday inclusive – from $255 (standard room) per night.
For more information, visit www.barwonheads.golf