Australia has a ton of amazing courses. New South Wales, Royal Melbourne, Cape Wickham, Kingston Heath, Barnbougle, Royal Adelaide, the list is long and glorious. Australia is a long haul from Los Angeles so if I was ever to go there, I would definitely try and play as many of the top flight courses as I could.
However, a recent video by Erik Anders Lang reminded me of the great tracks on the Mornington Peninsula and I decided this week to do a deep dive into them to come up with a dream itinerary to the Mornington Peninsula.
The folks at Golf Mornington Peninsula put together the Mornington Peninsula Golf Trail which I used as inspiration for a dream trip to Australia. Come with me, won't you, as I rattle through this underground Aussie golf hotspot!
1) St Andrews Beach
There looks like there are a lot of great golf courses on the way from Melbourne International Airport but my first stop has to be the course that first sparked my interested in the Peninsula several years ago, St Andrew's Beach. The course was designed by Tom Doak and has been the darling of the Top 100 Reviewers for years. Apparently this is one of Daok's favorite courses and after watching this video, I can see why:
The outrageous bunkers, the land movement, and perhaps most importantly, the kangaroos! I have always wanted to play golf surrounded by kangaroos and SAB looks like it would fulfill my dream in spades.
From the reviews, it sounds like you get a lot of flavors with this course, between big dunes to wide open spaces and since variety is the spice of life, spice me up! Plus SAB is pretty reasonably priced coming out on the top end at $62 USD (2020 prices) which is even more reason to visit the course.
SAB also has stay and play options in villas which look pretty sweet to me: https://standrewsbeachgolf.com.au/accommodation/ After the round I might have to amble over to the St Andrews Beach Brewery for some pints and for a great start to my Australian adventure! https://standrewsbeachbrewery.com.au/
2) The Dunes Golf Links
Ahhh the Dunes, what a gorgeous looking course! 2 to be exact, with 27 holes of fun on the offing the Dunes course seems to provide anything a public golfer could want in Australia. While the club does have a waiting list to become a member, as far as I can determine it is a true daily fee facility with the top rate coming in at about $64 USD (as of 2020).
The Dunes course was created by Tony Cashmore who I was wholly unaware of but has apparently designed over 30 courses in Australia and beyond including the 13th Beach course (which has also been on my radar). Well Tony, it looks like you have done a fantastic job with this course!
The fairways look tight and firm, the greens look like they are in amazing shape and I can feel the sea breeze coming through my monitor just checking out this video:
It reminded Lang of Rustic Canyon, one of my favorite tracks here in SoCal and I can't say I disagree. The shot shapes, the flow of the land seems very Rustic-y, which is a high compliment.
One of the things I have been noticing lately about great daily fee places that are located in more remote areas is that they are building onsite lodging (looking at you Wild Horse) and the Dunes is building some great looking lodging!
So you get a great public course and get to stay there, sounds like a win-win to me!
3) The National (Moonah)
The National is one of the most intriguing private courses in Australia. To me, it is a "private course for all" with over 3,200 members but they seem to be able to accommodate them all with 4 golf courses that are part of the club. While The National is private, many Australian courses adhere to the UK model by offering limited public play and if given the chance, sign me up for the Moonah course.
The routing from the above map looks crazy but fun. Kind of an out-and-back in the shape of a hook? The Moonah course was designed by Greg Norman and I haven't had a chance to play any courses designed by him but according to online reviews, this is one of his best designs.
For me the 14th hole really takes the cake with a drive over scrub to a rumpled fairway all the while going downhill to a green surrounded by scary bunkers and scrub in the back. Looks like a blast!
Apparently there is a composite course that the members play once a month that takes you over 6 holes from each of the three courses on the MP. Now that sounds like a really fun day!
4) Flinders Golf Club
At a top rate of $44 USD, Flinders may be the cheapest golf course on this list but it has something going for it that no other golf course on the MP has, Alister MacKenzie. One of the best architects in the world consulted on this course when he was working on Royal Melbourne and the fourth hole, The Coffin, was directly designed by him.
There are plenty of reasons to play Flinders other than this hole of course. The holes named Pine Gap, Fairly Dell and Aunt Sally all look top notch and this seems like a really welcoming club.
This club is the oldest one in Victoria and I can dare say I never heard of Flinders before writing this article but it is definitely on my must play list when I visit the MP! They also have a pretty killer stay and play package as well: https://www.flindersgolfclub.com.au/cms/visitors-and-social-groups/stay-play-options/
5) Portsea Golf Club
It is only fitting that I finish my Mornington Peninsula golf adventure by playing the course at the very tip, Portsea. Portsea looks like a rollicking good time and my favorite hole (from afar) would have to be the 10th, Little Devil.
A par 4 at only 279 yards but uphill, a TON of trouble to the left and once you gain the green you have an awesome elevated view of the surrounding countryside. I think I could play this hole every day and twice on Sundays.
The greens fees are very reasonable as well (topping out at $62 USD in 2020) and the course also offers some great stay and play packages. https://www.portseagolf.com.au/cms/stay-play/
From online reviews, the course seems to have a lot of undulating fairways, winds and quick greens. Sign me up for all three!
Finally, while not part of the "official" Golf Trail, there is one more Mornington Peninsula golf course, I must discuss:
***Peninsula Kingswood (North)
When you talk about Melbourne golf, you are talking the Sandbelt. A geological feature containing sandy loam subsoil perfect for giving rise to some of the best golf in the world. Peninsula Kingswood sits at the southernmost end of the Sandbelt and halfway down the Mornington Peninsula. If I am going all the way to Australia, I need to get some sand under my belt and while PK is a private course, thankfully they do accept some visitor play.
If I ever became a member of a private course, I would ideally want to be a member of a place that has 27-36 holes and PK certainly fits the bill with two 18 hole courses (North and South). The North is more lauded amongst the two and looking at the pictures (like the one above) only makes it want it more. Also, true to its Sandbelt heritage, so much sand!
The course was recently renovated by Mike Clayton (who you should definitely check out on the State Of The Game podcast) and people are already raving about it. The topography, the bunkers, it seems like an amazing course and would make for a great start (or capstone) to my trip to the MP!
In researching MP golf courses, I was surprised how many of them offer onsite accommodations and PK is no different with some pretty killer looking accommodations. https://www.peninsulakingswood.com.au/cms/accommodation/ So 1) I hope I get to Australia and 2) I hope PK extends me an invite to play!
So there you have it, so many great golf courses, all waiting for me to book a trip on Qantas to get down to see them! Have you played on the Peninsula? Which tracks do you like? Let me know in the comments!