Finally played the full 18 holes at Long Island over the weekend completing the set at the National amid hot temperatures and numerous flies. Course has always been billed as a hidden gem in Melbourne and I’d have to agree here. Course shares the same stretch of land as its more illustrious neighbour – Peninsula. Peninsula of course is a member of the esteemed sand belt so the Long Island course is situated on some very good golf real estate. The National merged with Long Island in January 2015 in a move that was advantageous to both parties. The Long Island members get access to one of the best golf complexes in Australia if not the world and the National members access to a course nearer the Melbourne centre. Its impossible for me to comment if the quality has improved under the new owners but the position in the rankings has risen from 79 to 63 in just two years. Of course the move safeguards the future of the National Club as the land would be extremely valuable to developers in the future.
Hopefully this will never be the case as Long Island is too good a course. Long Island was established in 1938 and the maturity of the course allows for some of the best greens in Melbourne. No putt outside of 4 feet is a gimme with subtleties catching out the playing party numerous times on the day (especially me!). Interesting course design with only 1 Par 3 and Par 5 on the inward nine, luckily the Par 4s are especially strong.
Two medium length Par 4s begin the round and allow for the nerves to settle with easy layouts. The fun really begins on the longish Par 3 third. Bunkers surround the green with scrub protecting the rear. Course really comes to life on the 6thwith two tough long Par 4s. The 8th is a fantastic short Par 4 dogleg which only needs and iron from the tee to open the approach. Anything long here will be snaffled by the bush. Outward nine concludes with a short Par 3 which is a great test. Line here is to play to the right of the green with a slight draw and care is needed to avoid the left side bunkers, a tough shot awaits if you do. Hole reminds me a little of the short 15th at Kingston Heath.
Inbound nine features several great sandbelt holes. The 10th is a great dogleg left Par 4 with an iron the recommended club from tee to grab optimum position.
Of course focus at the National is on the three courses at the Cape Schanck site but the great course designed by Gordon Bernard Oliver should not be overlooked on a visit to Melbourne.