The National – Moonah Course

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First off the Moonah course at the National Golf Club is a lot of fun to play with a natural feel, layout and great conditioning. Designed by Greg Norman and Bob Harrison, the Moonah opened for play in October 2000 and is currently ranked (in the list I’m playing) at 99. Of course there will be debate both within and outside the club as to which is the premier course at the National. Golf Digest recently included the Old course at 87 in their Top 100 list and omitted the Moonah. What do I think? Let’s see.

The Moonah certainly has its own character amongst the dunes in Cap Schanck. Characteristic Moonah trees frame many of the holes and the fairways are a lot more generous than what you’ll see on the Old course. Conditioning on the CT2 Bermuda fairways is immaculate and allows for good runs from the tees. Course starts with a gentle Par 4 with a well protected green which provides a good scoring opportunity. The second marks the first of genuinely great Par 5s on the course. A severe dogleg to the right with the green well protected by a massive a dune. You can cut the corner by driving over the trees to the left creating an opportunity to reach the green in two, however a handily placed bunked awaits which will definitely halt progress here. The third and fourth holes are longish Par 4s  which require distance and accuracy from the tee. The fourth is a particularly attractive drive from an elevated position. Miscued drives to the right spells trouble so stick to left. The first of the Par 3s is the next hole where wind is often a factor. Tough bunkering to the green, imperative not to miss to the right. I should know my last three attempts have missed to the right creating 3 wipes!  Hole 6 is yet another strong Par 4 which is played to a narrow fairway. There is a bunker to the right which must be avoided to score well. Second shot is played over a valley to elevated double green. The 7th is another strong Par 5 which cannot really be reached in two shots. A decent drive setups a mid range iron allowing a simple pitch to the green. Course management is important here. The Par 3 8th is a shortish Par 3 protected by four deep bunkers at the front so you don’t want to be short. Heavy rough presides at the back down from the green complex so you don’t want to be long either. Only one solution here, hit the green! Shortish Par 4 closes the opening nine hours with a big dune waiting to snaffle balls to the right, good risk reward hole here. Green is reachable for the long drivers.

The second nine starts with the signature 10th (well it is to me) with the antiquated windmill located in the middle of the fairway. A good drive sets up an easiesh pitch. The 11th is Par 4 played to a raised fairway, clearing the mound (tough when the wind is up) enables significant distance making the second a lot easier. Green is tough and advisable to be below the hole. My playing partner wasn’t one day and devised a unique way to tackle the hole. He smashed the putt to the upslope behind the hole and almost holed when ball retreated from the downslope. Ingenuity at its best. Long picturesque Par 5 awaits which marks a run of tough holes. Green can’t be reached in two shots so managing the hole a must here. Scrub awaits on the right from a daunting tee position so stay left. The fourteenth is a long Par 4 played from an elevated tee and is one of the harder holes on the course. Strong tee shot needed here so have any chance of reaching the green in two. The 15th is a long Par 5 which offers risk reward on the second shot. Assuming good position from the tee, second can be played over the sand dune drastically getting the distance, any mistake is heavily penalised. Smart play is to follow the fairway to right setting up a pitch to the hole now snaking left. Hole plays like an inverted S. Landscape changes for the last 3 holes set amongst some modern real estate. The first of these is a long Par 4 played into an enormous elevated fairway often into heavy wind. If the wind is blowing then there is little chance of making this in two, distance from the tee is of paramount importance again. The 17th is a longish Par 4 where the danger exists on the right. I really have to stop hitting my tee shot right here! Course ends with another long Par 4  where SI is 3. Two well shots are required to hit the green in two. Once again the banks can be used to manipulate the approach shot.

And that’s the Moonah. So which is better, well they are different beasts. The Old more grandiose, the Moonah more natural. For fun factor its the Moonah for me.

Favourite Hole – Par 4 11th

Hardest Hole – Par 4 4th

 

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