The Bellarine, a short drive from melbourne, is crying out for you and a mini-bus-full of mates to test its layouts, consume its wines and feast on its fine food.
Because, know this: Bellarine Tourism wants you down there ... Which means you, golf tourist, have power. They’re selling the Bellarine and you should buy it on your own terms. Ring the tourist people, tell them you want the itinerary they give the journos. Ask about packages. The more mates you bring down, the better value. Ask for a price – what can they do for $100 per head, per day? Or $200? Whatever. The tourism mob employs people whose job it is to suggest places to play, stay and suck on a truffle.
The accommodation? The two-bedroom, self-contained joint I stayed in at the Barwon Heads Resort at Thirteenth Beach ‒ owned by former Brownlow medal-winning Blues and Swans Genius of Handball Greg “Diesel” Williams ‒ would suit all of your post-round eating requirements. Peppers – who employ a lot of people who know what makes a hotel good – have rooms abutting The Sands at Torquay. There are B ‘n’ Bs, holiday parks and budget options. (Though I’ll be staying at Diesel’s place; Peppers at a pinch.)
The weather? You’ll get everything. Standing on the 15th tee of the Beach Course at Thirteenth Beach, with a gale-force guns-of-Navarone-westerly paring back our lips like we’re astronauts in a G-force testing machine, with the temperature heart-beating between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, Cats doctor Brett looks into the distance and muses without irony, “Might rain.” (Didn’t, though the other locals murmured agreement.)
A day after, on the second green of The Sands, it does rain; drenchingly so, for three full minutes. Then it stops and the sun comes out and the westerly picks up and blow-dries us warm. It’s enigmatic weather.
Favourite course? Couldn’t separate the three I played. They all have their own character and tests and they’re all choice fun, even when your scorecard is looking ragged. And that’s the definition of a good track: did you have fun and do you yearn to go back? Answer is yes. (Mind you, I’m more addicted to golf than Alice Cooper, and the game saved his life.) It’s the power of top golf courses; they offer situations you didn’t have the ability to combat until you found that you did.
Now, sure – Victoria Tourism (visitvictoria.com) shouted me the flight, accommodation, delicious food, fine wine, flash hire car, green fees, and Leura Park Estate gave me a bottle of pinot gris they serve in Qantas Business Class. Sure, they did that.
But, honestly, I’d be spruiking the Bellarine anyway. It’s a brilliant place to play golf and trip about. And you should go down there with a dozen mates, hire a mini-bus and each day have a designated driver, and trip around and taste wines and eat delicious meals, and play some of the world’s best golf.
Because, y’know – how good’s that?
– Matt Cleary