The sandbelt region of Melbourne boasts a fabulous group of golf courses that epitomise the golden age of golf architecture. These highly ranked layouts are built on land in the southeast suburbs ideal for golf and conveniently located within a short distance of each other.
Soil and climate
A rich vein of sandy loam subsoil in the region provides the rare opportunity to construct incredible green complexes defended by bunkers with quite heavy lips, while the fairways are covered with a base grass of couch noted for its firmness and year-round vibrancy. Also, the temperate climate around Melbourne is perfect for producing bent grass putting surfaces.
All sandbelt clubs are private clubs, but if you are a member of an international golf club that has reciprocal membership, then it is possible to play on some of these courses. Golf tour operators can also access some of the private sandbelt courses, provided players meet the clubs' requirements.
Royal Melbourne (East and West), Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Victoria, Commonwealth, Huntingdale, Yarra Yarra and Peninsula (North and South) are all championship venues designed by acclaimed architects.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Cheltenham Road, Black Rock
Ph 03 9599 0500
West course length: 6077 metres, par 72
East course length: 6007 metres, par 71
The West Course was designed by the legendary Dr Alister Mackenzie and features all the elements of strategic design that make the game both challenging and enjoyable for both professionals and amateurs. A classic example of Mackenzie's work is the 10th hole measuring less than 300 metres. A cavernous bunker set into the hill defends the green and dictates club selection. Players have a range of options available on what is a wonderful example of risk-reward golf. Alex Russell designed the East Course. The 18th hole has determined the winner of many big tournaments and matches. It is rightfully considered one of the finest finishing holes in golf. A composite course combining 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East is used to host Major events. This format is used so that play is contained in the main paddock and no roads are crossed over. The Composite has long been rated in the top 10 courses of world golf.
Kingston Road, Cheltenham
Ph 03 8558 2700
Course length: 6352 metres, par: 72
The number 2 ranked course in the nation and for good reason. Designed by Dan Soutar but the influence of Dr Mackenzie should not be understated. Strategic bunkering and wicked green contours are standout features. While native vegetation forms a natural boundary for each hole. During a visit to Melbourne, Mackenzie advised the club to shorten the 15th hole from a blind par 4 into an uphill par 3 with a steep tilt from back to front. The 15th is now considered a work of genius. The blind approach shot on the 17th hole adds even more to the challenge especially at such a critical stage of the round.
The Metropolitan Golf Club
Golf Road, South Oakleigh
Ph 03 9570 3774
Course length: 6469 metres, par: 72
'Metro' is the nearest of the sandbelt clubs to the CBD and has hosted seven Australian Opens, the last in 1997. At the turn of the century Metro also staged the only WGC match play championship played outside the USA. Widely acclaimed for years as having the best fairway turf in the country, playing surfaces are always in tip-top shape. The course is more than 100 years old and has regularly undergone subtle design changes, the latest being four years ago under the guidance of Mike Clayton.