I was invited to play on a cold day at Eastern located amongst the beautiful surroundings in the Yarra Valley. Golf course was only constructed a year ago and is a Norman\ Harrison design. Setup is impressive with a state of the art clubhouse, fitness centre and driving range. There is also accommodation on the course for weekend breaks where there is not only golf but wineries galore not to mention hundreds of kangaroos. So if you’re a golf enthusiast and want to see a lot of marsupials then the Eastern should be considered.
Before getting into the course, I have to say it’s a work in progress. There is considerable work being doing on the fairway to improve for the members, rough was severely cut back and course routings have changed a few times. Greens are in very good shape but need time to mature. Would be very interested to return in 5 years and see the progress. I would imagine the course would then be a top 100 contender.
A couple of interesting items from the day. Bunker snaffled balls landing in Kangaroo prints can get relief no nearer the hole. I had a putt whose line was obscured by a big piece of kangaroo crap. Two things, can the offending item be removed as per the rules? If so do you really want to move it? I putted around the crap on the day. Proper ruling is the poo could have been moved.
Course starts with a relatively short Par 4 that plays a lot longer than it looks. Green slopes sharply at the back so better to be at the front right. Proceedings pick up at the 3rd, a long Par 5 with a lake protecting the green. Positioning is important here and the bank on the right can be used for the second shot for optimum position. 4th hole is back to back with the 5thand plays long, best spot here is the raised left section of the fairway. The first Par is the 6th and it’s a cracking location with the Yarra Valley providing the backdrop, wind a factor here on the day. Tricky shot if you miss left as the green slopes heavily to the right. Opening nine ends with a great Norman like Par 5. Tee-shot is played from a raised position to a fairway that shapes from right to left with the clubhouse in full view. Bunkers await for those trying to get the optimum position from the right. Green is well protected especially for those trying to hit in two shots.
Second nine is a lot more interesting. Holes 10, 11 and 12 are long Par 4s. 10th is a straight long Par 4 requiring two well hit shots to hit the green. There is a lake on the right which is not really a factor here. 13th is the signature hole, a long Par 3 protected by a massive lake and imposing beach bunker to the front left. Hole is long and there is a mound to the right of the green which can be used for position. Not one for the faint of heart here. 14th is SI 1 and a bugger of a hole measuring 537m. There is water on the left and bunkers on the right, decent tee-shot sets up a tough shot even if you are in position with a big lake on the right and water on the left. Approach is then played to a raised green protected by bunkers. I can think of many tougher Par 5s I’ve played than this one, a Par is a great result. The 16th is a strong short Par 4 that doglegs to the right, it’s a tight shot and further right is out of bounds. Its one of the more tighter tee-shots on the course and similar to the second at St Andrew’s Beach. 17th is a mid length Par 3 played from a raised tee-box to a raised green. Another tough green that falls away to the left, miss here and its an extremely tough shot. The 18th is a very similar hole to the 9th but a Par 4. Hole is SI 3 so important to get a good drive away, approach shot is played to a green overlooked by the clubhouse.
One thing to mention here is that closing holes were played with the most number of spectators I’ve played too – yes the Kangaroos. Never seen so many, this really has to be one of most quintessential Australian golfing experiences.
Best Hole – 16th
Hardest Hole – 14th