The Ocean course at the National was opened for play in 2000 along with its more illustrious neighbour the Moonah course. These two courses join the original Old course and the newly acquired Long Island making up one of the best complexes not only in Australia but in world golf. The Ocean course was designed by Peter Thomson, Ross Perrett and Michael Wolveridge amongst sand dunes and boasts breathtaking views of the Bass Strait and the Mornington Peninsula. Some say the course occupies the best piece of golf real estate among the National stable of courses yet it’s often is derided as inferior to the Old and Moonah courses. Tom Doak has been enlisted to re-imagine the routing for a number of holes on the course with work scheduled to start soon. Darius Oliver has reviewed the Ocean course in depth here if you’re keen to learn more.
As for my opinion, well first impression was very good. This is a course ranked 38 in Australia. First tee boasts impressive views from an elevated position. First few holes are often played into serious headwinds increasing the challenge. Standout holes from the first 9 are the first and the fourth. The 1st is a Par 5 and boasts two fairways that can be targeted sandwiching a bunker complex. Better option here is to target the left of the fairway which makes the second shot significantly easier. Approach is than played to an elevated green. The 4th is a dogleg protected by a large sand dune to the right eagerly awaiting errant tee shots. Hole plays tough into the wind. The 7th is another strong par 5 let down a little by an extremely tough green complex. Certainly there is an advantage here to stay left and carrying the first ridge can add 50 metres or so to your tee shot. From here the hole opens up. A decent second should leave a wedge to an elevated green where there is little margin for error. Longer shots will disappear to the rough below often leaving another 30m or so pitch. Green is two tiered and presents a stern test.
The second nine are stronger in my humble opinion. The 11th is a fantastic Par 3 which I could play all day long. Tee shot is played from an elevated position often into the wind to a narrow green protected by 3 steep bunkers. The 12th is a Par 4 reminiscent of the 15th at NSW. Hole is protected by a large dune on the right and the safer approach is to hit a 3W leaving 150m to the green. If you take this on then err to the right, missing to the left will often result in a lost ball. 15th is a strong shortish Par 4. 17th maintains the strong stand of Par 5s on the course and is my favourite hole. Save option is to target the right portion of the fairway though long hitters can cut the corner. Peril for missing here are severe. Hole is protected by a number of bunkers so again better to stick right here. Scenic hole and a pleasure to play. 18th is a tough Par 4 though usually played with the wind. Penalties for missing fairway with driver are severe again.