What a week. Royal Melbourne on Friday, Victoria on Sunday and Kingston Heath the following Friday. Fantastic opportunity for us to experience the best that Melbourne’s sandbelt has to offer. We were kindly invited to play Victoria by Carl who is close to completing his quest to play Australia’s Top 100 golf courses. What a feat that would be. Carl managed to secure the round at Victoria by monitoring the golflink website for Charity days of which there are generally the odd opportunity. Luckily there was availability at Victoria and we have also signed up for one at Metropolitan next month. Sun was shining and after a nice spatchcock for lunch we were ready to tackle the course.
Victoria Golf Club was relocated to the site in Cheltenham in 1926 and architect Dr Alistair Mackenzie was hired to add to the course design. Club curator Frank Lennox created the original design to which Mackenzie commented that “Little more is required to make this a magnificent golf course”. Course opened for play on 14th May 1927 when the Prime Minister Stanley Bruce teed off. Numerous events have been hosted at Victoria including the Women’s and Men’s Australian Open championship, PGA and Masters. Recently, well almost 20 years ago now Victoria hosted the Presidents Cup. How time flies.
On the day, the short Par 4 opener was out of play so we trudged over to the second on a glorious Melbourne summer day. The ‘opener’ was a longish straight Par 4, fairway bunker protecting the right portion so better to stick left here to open the green. Anyone who reads the reviews on this blog can appreciate that I like my Par 3s, who doesn’t really. Well Victoria’s set of Par 3s holes are some of the strongest around. The first is the 164m Par 3 fourth, there is room to the left of the green but stray too far and a willing bunker awaits. Front right greenside bunker is a hindrance for those that like to draw their shot (me!). 5 and 6 are long Par 4 holes where a left to right then right to left shots from the tee are ideal, good test of one’s ability. The green on the 6th features a severely sloping back to front green so like all courses on the sandbelt – try to stay below the hole. The 7th is another of the strong Par 3 holes, medium length framed with a beautiful tree at the back. Don’t stray right here, check the photo and you’ll see why. Outward nine usually concludes with two Par 5s and interestingly as you’ll see the inward nine finishes with two Par 5s. Today the 19th was in play which was a short Par 3. The 9th is a great long Par 5 measuring 537m, carrying the hole from the tee drastically reduces the length but it’s a long hit. Bunkers are well placed to punish those who attempt to carry the hill but stray. Opening nine done and it’s a sterner test as the sandbelt offers.
Second nine opens with the dogleg left uphill 10th, a real tricky proposition. Out of bounds awaits down the left so cutting the corner really tempts fate. Safe bet is to aim for the far bunker on the opposite end of fairway for the best line in. 11th is another strong mid length Par 4 with a tight fairway. Bunkering is fantastic on the hole and green is famously staged with an imperious tree (for the life of me can’t remember the type, apologies!). The 13th is a long Par 4 requiring a good hit to make the top of the hill. A low iron shot awaits and I managed to crunch a four iron and par the hole netting four points, the highlight of the round for me! I said something about Par 3s earlier, well the 14th is the pick and I haven’t played many better (15th at KH, 5th at RM, 8th at St George’s Hill). I haven’t played Pine Valley but can imagine this hole provides a taster. Simply need to hit the green here or miss front left. Not much more to be said. Other than Par 3s, I do like short Par 4s with risk reward and the 15th is a good example. Safe play is to hit a mid-iron to the right of the fairway to open up the green, the more fun play is to hit a draw with a 3 wood\hybrid to leave a chip onto green. Longer you hit the tighter the fairway. Great hole. The 16th is the last Par 3. Plays long uphill and the safest play is to miss front right, bunkers line the hole to the left and will leave a tough second if hit. As mentioned earlier the course finishes with 2 Par 5s. 17th is the stronger and is a long dogleg right measuring 550 metres. Good three shots required to make the green. The last is easier and makeable in two if you reach the mound from the tee.
And that’s Victoria! Great course, clubhouse is fantastic and harks back to 1927 when the course opened for play. In a time when modern new clubhouses are the norm, its nice to go to the old school ones. So much character and a glimpse into the club’s history. Thoroughly enjoyed the day and rate the course highly. Each sandbelt course I’ve played has its own identity, for Victoria Golf Club it would be elegance. Onto The Metropolitan.
Best Hole – 14th Hole
Hardest Hole – 6th Hole