Settlers Run bears all the hallmarks of Greg Norman’s design hand, which might explain why it has become a regular in Golf Australia's Top-100 Courses ranking.
Throughout his playing career Greg Norman drew huge crowds to tournaments eager to witness his incredible ball-striking. His presence in an event, confidently striding the fairways, made him one of the game’s biggest-ever drawcards.
He brings those same high qualities to the game as a golf course designer.
Like the man himself, Norman’s burgeoning portfolio of layouts throughout the country, and the world, make their presence felt by being charismatic, strategic and visually striking.
This is undoubtedly why Golf Australia’s Top-100 Courses ranking features 11 layouts crafted by Norman’s design company. Among his list of acclaimed courses is Settlers Run Golf & Country Club, located near Cranbourne about 50 minutes’ drive south-east of Melbourne’s CBD.
Settlers Run bears all the hallmarks of Norman’s design hand, with the bunkering being one of the memorable features of the layout.
He has continued his homage to the Dr Alister MacKenzie-style of bunkering prominent throughout the nearby Melbourne Sandbelt.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Settlers Run course was how much the land rises and falls throughout the 18 holes. There are several high points throughout the round – the 2nd tee being arguably the highest – where you can look over the golf course and see the Melbourne city skyline off in the distance.
While much of the surrounding area is relatively flat, the rolling terrain – punctuated with several natural watercourses – for this project was obviously hand-picked because it offers such variety in terms of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, which fits in well with the Norman design philosophy.
As one might expect from a course designed by one of the best drivers of the ball the game
has seen, Settlers Run boasts some fantastic driving holes.
There is a run of five par-4s from the long 3rd hole that allows you to use the longest club in the bag without too much trepidation. The 3rd is arguably the best of the quintet with a downhill fairway adding a few more valuable metres to the tee shot. However, this extra length can easily bring into play a lone fairway trap on the right edge of the fairway. The long approach to a narrow green must be pinpoint accurate with deep bunkers lining the right side of the deep putting surface.
The next four holes offer good scoring opportunities if you can stay out of the bunkers, particularly those beside the 4th green, as well as the water hazards right of the 5th hole and left of the 6th fairway.
Another impressive aspect of the Settlers Run course is the variety of its par-3s, of which there are only three. The short holes head towards different points of the compass, meaning they will never play the same on any given day. The best of the one-shotters is the shortest of the trio, the 149-metre 11th hole. The tee shot is played across a gully to a huge green that is flanked to the left by an equally large scheme of rough-lined bunkers. The bunker work here is the finest on the golf course. A row of tall pines to the right of the green frames the hole beautifully.
Address: Setters Run, Botanic Ridge, Victoria.
Contact: (03) 9785 6072 (pro shop); www.settlersrungcc.com.au
Designers: Greg Norman, Bob Harrison & Harley Kruse (2007).
Green fees: $69 (weekdays), $89 (weekends) *Green fee specials also available via club website.
Golf Australia magazine Top-100 Courses history: No.56 (2012); No.63 (2014); No.61 (2016).
Ranking judges’ comments:
“I played at Setters Run four or five years ago and the condition of the course was certainly not as good as I expected. So I was pleased to find the presentation of the course has improved significantly since then. Couldn’t fault the fairways or the greens.” – Lucas Andrews (2016)
“The bunkering was a highlight for me. They are beautifully shaped, visually intimidating but very playable, which I think is the hallmark of a good design.” – Alex Chapman (2016).