The 13th edition of the biennial matches between the Internationals and the United States returns to Royal Melbourne in December. If you’re planning to be there, make sure to take your gear and sample 14 of the best layouts in the sandbelt.
The 2018 host of the World Cup of Golf has a worldwide reputation for presenting five-star quality playing surfaces.
Carpet-like couch fairways lead to large, fast bentgrass greens that are hand-mown to the edges of the greenside bunkers and add significantly to the challenge Metropolitan presents.
There are 96 bunkers lining the journey from 1st tee to 18th green, with most holes lined by huge stands of Australian native trees, providing a golfing oasis in the middle of suburbia.
Green fee: Upon application.
How to play: Limited tee times are available for interstate guests who are members of a golf club.
With so many world-class courses in such a small area, there will occasionally be a layout that is sadly overlooked for greater applause.
Woodlands unfortunately falls into that category, despite being ranked the No.16 course in the country by Golf Australia magazine in 2018.
Woodlands is contained within a small parcel of land – by comparison to many of its Sandbelt neighbours – so it is not an overtly long layout from the tips. But it doesn’t need to be.
Its quality short par-4s and smallish greens demand precise approaches and accuracy from the tee, not to mention a short game devoid of nerves.
Green fee: $165 (manager-introduced local and interstate guests).
How to play: Contact the club to apply for a tee time.
SPRING VALLEY GC
For years, Spring Valley was rarely mentioned in the same breath as the famed courses of the Melbourne Sandbelt. But in recent years, it has stepped out of the shadow of its more famous neighbours to grab a share of the limelight.
And why shouldn’t it. Spring Valley boasts well-designed strategic holes, and good bunkering, which make this a great course to play.
Vern Morcom created the course, which opened in 1949. 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.
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 layout’s strengths.
Spring Valley reached an all-time high rank of No.42 spot in Golf Australia’s Top-100 in 2018 and expectations are it will push higher in 2020.
Green fee: $180 (weekdays); $200 (Sunday).
How to play: Visitors who are not the guest of a member can request a tee time by contacting the club.
Ranfurlie was Mike Clayton’s first 18-hole design and opened for play in 2002.
Clayton’s finished product has found a regular place in Golf Australia’s Top-100 ranking, based on the strategic aspects of the design and consistently good presentation.
The layout certainly impressed leading American designer Tom Doak, who visited the course a few years ago.
RIGHT: Ranfurlie GC. PHOTO: Brendan James.
“The site is very open and windswept, and the contours are very broad,” Doak said. “I would venture to say it is not the sort of property which any young designer would want to stake his reputation upon.
“Considering that, it is really a remarkably good course. The greens and bunker construction is very well done, and in many cases insists that you play the approach from one side of the fairway over the other. I really like how they ramped the greens up from the front to allow a running approach.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Green fee: $75.
How to play: Restricted visitor tee times are available five days a week.
HOW TO GET TO THE CUP
If you are interested in attending the 2019 Presidents Cup then contact GOLFSelect who has been appointed as a Licensed Travel Operator for the event.
GOLFSelect can offer you guaranteed ticket and accommodation packages as well as arranging access to a number of the famous Melbourne Sandbelt courses whilst you are in town.
Call its Presidents Cup hotline on (03)9563 6776 or visit www.golfselect.com.au
WHERE TO STAY
The Brighton Savoy has been a long-standing Bayside icon since 1967, with award-winning facilities including a full-service function and conference centre with hotel accommodation, making it one of the finest hotels Brighton has on offer.
The hotel (pictured) features the best of contemporary design with unparalleled customer service and an attention to detail only a four-star hotel can provide.
Located just 15 minutes’ drive from Royal Melbourne, is the area’s only full-service boutique hotel and is located directly on the beach front. Spoil your senses around the clock; from a high-quality dining experience to comfortable bedding for optimal sleeping conditions.
To book or check availability, visit www.brightonsavoy.com.au
The Dingley Hotel is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Royal Melbourne. The motel offers corporate, sporting and leisure travellers modern and up-to-date rooms.
There are 57 rooms comprising of standard queen rooms, standard twin and king rooms as well as executive spa suites.
The hotel also boasts a fully-renovated bistro with a lounge bar, ample dining spaces and an all-weather alfresco area.
To book or check availability, visit www.dingleyhotel.com.au
BEST WESTERN PLUSBUCKINGHAM INTERNATIONAL
Stay at this boutique motel in Highett, just a short distance from Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
The Buckingham has a fantastic Stay and Play package (from $229 per person), including a one-night stay in a standard room, fully cooked buffet breakfast and a round of golf at Woodland Golf Club (limited time slots available).
Relax in comfort in a standard, family or executive room, which boast plenty of excellent features.
To book or check availability, visit www.thebuckingham.com.au