Courses

Review: Growling Frog Golf Course

The Growling Frog Golf Course is located in Yan Yean, about 50 mins north of Melbourne, in an undulating grassland valley with large mature gums setting the scene.

The course is generous with large fairways which are guarded by bunkers. Tee shots are often about control and hitting the ‘right’ parts of the course to give yourself a good look at the green. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the fairway – particularly around the front nine – you can be blocked when approaching the greens. The greens are well guarded by soft, deep sand traps which can be difficult to get out of. The greens themselves are a stand-out feature of the course. They are large with obvious breaks and levels. They roll true and give you a great chance to make some putts.

Growling Frog Golf Course, Golf Course Review, Growling Frog

I have played the course before and found the rough challenging to get out of. The course seems to have been made more generous with a short rough, cut back a fair way from the beautiful tight lies on the fairways. This course feels like you can miss and not be severely penalised with a lost ball. This said, if you do miss by a long way you can either take your chances with the snakes or just hit another! There are plenty of well placed water hazards and the wild life is truly spectacular; water birds, kangaroos and growling frogs (as the name suggests) are around for the nature lovers.

This course screams true Australia. Dry rough grasslands with huge twisted gum trees and wild life everywhere. A true treat for the golf enthusiasts and anyone wanting a beautiful walk amongst the native flora and fauna of Australian grasslands.

All-in-all a great layout that is challenging and fun. You are rewarded with power and accuracy. This course asks quite a bit about your game, yet allows you to make choices about how to attack the holes depending on your frame of mind. I won’t be leaving it so long next time. A few of my favourites as usual:

2nd: A 161 meter par three. A longer shot needs to be accurate. A huge bunker waits short left and a water hazard long right. The miss here is short right and you are left with a good look at the green to hopefully get up and down. Shoot for the center of the green and it should be a straight forward two putt for par.

Growling Frog Golf Course, Golf Course Review, Growling Frog

Growling Frog Golf Course, Golf Course Review, Growling Frog

Growling Frog Golf Course, Golf Course Review, Growling Frog

8th: A 506 meter par 5. You need to get the drive away here. Bunkers wait for you on either side of the fairway. If you want a chance of hitting the green for two you need to be down the left hand side of the fairway as a huge gum tree blocks the line in on the right. Lay up or attack the green will be your next decision. If you are laying up continue down the left. Bunkers guard the green short left and mid right. Fairly straight forward putting awaits you on the green.

Growling Frog Golf Course, Golf Course Review, Growling Frog

A great course. Fun, challenging and full of natural beauty. Well worth the trip.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

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Review: Cape Schanck Golf Course

I was lucky enough to tee up a game with my brother and friend Lee on the weekend at what has to be one of Victoria’s best (and maybe toughest) golf courses. Cape Schanck is a par 70, 18 hole championship course which is located on the bottom edge of the Mornington peninsula.

As far as golf courses go, this has to be one of the most scenic and beautiful courses I have played. It is a fairly tight, tee tree lined course that will punish you if you are off line. Having said that it is quite short measuring only 5640 meters. This course demands that you are in the fairway and in reasonable position to make a good score. The greens are huge and roll very, very well. The fairways are well presented with a fantastic surface and the bunkering is well placed and quite beautiful. The course meanders through the hills and sits high above the surrounding land, offering spectacular views of the ocean beach and Port Phillip Bay.

The holes on this course really do advantage the strategic golfer (which i’m not well known for!). Most holes do present a fairly large landing area if you are willing to take a longer iron into the greens. If you choose to bang the driver you will be rewarded for accuracy but will be severely penalised if you’re offline. I didn’t find the greens all that hard to hit, this was most likely due to the enormous size of them. Once on the green they rolled true and with good pace.

I must admit I didn’t get enough photos here. I just really enjoyed the walk and was so into the game it skipped my mind. Here are some of my favourite holes:

3rd: A 188 meter par 3. A demanding tee shot made from above. The wind can play a huge part in whether you make the green or not. You shoot it over a small gully filled with grasses into a large undulating green. This green is guarded by four green side bunkers, two short and long left and two running almost the entire length on the right. The smart play here is to play for the heart of the green, avoid the trouble and try to make a putt.

Cape Schanck Golf Course, Cape Schanck, RACV Golf course

 

12th: A 349 meter par 4. This is an intimidating drive. You have an up hill funnel to drive the ball into which slopes from both sides back to the middle. Miss the fairway here and you will be reloading! I took a 3 iron and placed the ball into the middle leaving a mid to short iron into a green that sits well below you. This is a challenging next shot as the green is guarded by a huge bunker short left and a big depression down the right side of the green. If you miss right, getting up and down will be very tough. Once on the green you will need to negotiate the large contours to hole out. A very challenging and beautiful hole.

Cape Schanck Golf Course, Cape Schanck, RACV Golf Course

 

14th: A 158 meter par 3. I’m sure anyone who has played the course would agree this hole is one of the best on the course. No doubt the most photographed and most talked about. It plays all downhill, overlooking the ocean beach and the National Golf Course. You need to shoot the ball at the green, allowing for the wind. Distance control is a must if you want to make par. You can miss short, but long will cost you. The green has a huge tier. Finding yourself on the top and having to putt down would be a nightmare as slowing the ball would be nearly impossible. A great hole maybe one of the most scenic in Victoria!

Cape Schanck Golf Course, Cape Schanck, RACV Golf Course

 

There are so many great holes on this course. Each and every one is different and needs to be considered carefully. I must say, I did play conservatively and layed up on lots of holes, which helped me score well. Cape Schanck Golf Course will test your skills both mentally and physically. You really must go and play it. Another great day out with friends and another fantastic example of how good golf can be in Australia.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Bright Golf Course

I was dragged away for the weekend up to a small town called Harrietville on a family vacation. It was extremely hard work! Fishing, mountain biking, playing with the kids in the river and, of course, heading out to the local golf course.

I have always enjoyed playing new courses. I really love the challenge of not knowing the layout and having to manage my shots and strategies.

As I pulled into the course I knew I was in for a treat. I could see the fairways were well kept and the greens looked good. We were greeted by the honesty box, in which we deposited the correct amount then headed for the tee. I could see by the card that it was a reasonably long course at 6000+ meters. With some long and short par fours.

Firstly, let me tell you that the condition of the course was amazing. Great couch fairways and tee boxes. All the trees and bushes were maintained and the surrounds were stunning. The greens had been cored and sanded within the last week. However, this did not really affect the putting. They ran true and straight, maybe just a little slower than usual.

The views around this course are amazing. With Mt Buffalo and the surrounding high county looming around and the Ovens river bordering the course, you really feel like a you are walking through a beautiful park.

If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend dropping in for a game.

Here are a few of my favourite holes…

The 6th: A 158 meter par 3. A medium length par 3 that is downhill. I’d recommend taking one club less here. The green is elevated and it takes a good shot to find the surface. There are some mounds surrounding the green that you’d love to avoid. Aim for the center of the green and try to make your putt.

Bright Golf Course, Bright Country Club

My brother Josh hitting another great shot!

 

The 14th: A 516 meter par 5. A long par 5 with a demanding drive. The hole doglegs left. You will need to drive the ball to the right of the fairway if you want to have a go for 2. It will take 2 of your best and most accurate shots here.

Bright Golf Course, Bright Country Club

 

The 9th: A 488 meter par 5. A short par 5. I hit a good drive up the middle and was definitely within reach to hit on for 2. However there is a hidden water hazard at the front of the green. Take it on or not, you’ll need to decide! No doubt one of the most beautiful holes on the course and no pushover.

 

Bright Golf Course, Bright Country Club

 

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Mandalay Golf Course

Mandalay is one of the newest courses on offer for Melbourne golfers. It’s a par 72 Peter Thomson designed championship course and is located in Beverage approximately 45 minutes from the CBD.

This is a traditional estate course with housing surrounding many of the holes. The course is very wide spread with a distance between each tee and green. It is set in a grassland environment with lush rolling hills forming the backdrop. The course also rolls with undulating fairways and many elevated tees. You can usually clearly see where to go with the exception of a few holes which cleverly bend and dip or rise.

The condition of the course is amazing. Quite notably the greens were in fantastic condition and rolled very true and smooth. The tees and fairways were also in great condition with a lush cover and well manicured turf. One of the features of this course would have to be the bunkering. There are quite a few well placed bunkers, but many can be easily avoided by selecting appropriate clubs or shots. As mentioned above, this course emerges from the surrounding grassland. The fairways are generous which is good because the rough is, well, rough! I also know that this particular area is a wind tunnel and you will almost always have some wind to contend with. When I played the wind was moderate but by no means strong. Still, I found that the ball was being pushed quite a long way.

I think this course has an interesting and challenging layout. It will test even the best of golfers. I was playing okay and made plenty of pars with a few good opportunities for birdies. When I was in the fairway, the holes seemed quite straight-forward with good sized greens to hit. However, and it is a big however, roll even the slightest into the rough and the ball is most likely lost. I lost four out of five balls hit into the rough. I lost one ball that landed only slightly long of a green, took a bounce and…gone! This also happened to my playing partner as well. With the amount of wind, distance control was difficult and the consequences were huge for even the smallest misjudgement. Personally I’d like to see the rough a little more forgiving. I’m not saying mow it to the ground. If I miss a fairway, I do deserve to be penalised. But a lost ball every time is just soul destroying and can ruin a good round very quickly.

All in all, this is an excellent golf course in fantastic condition. The layout is varied and interesting with many challenging holes that will not let you relax till the very end. I’d definitely recommend coming to Mandalay Golf Course for a game if you want to try out your skills against a championship course.

Here are some of my favourite holes.

The 3rd: A 182 meter par 3. You tee off from an elevated tee to a large green that sits horizontal to you. Distance control is the key here. Long will be better than short as there is a large mound at the back and a deep bunker at the front. Putting should be fairly straight forward once on the green.

Mandalay Golf Course, 3rd Mandalay Golf Course

The 15th: A 202 meter par 3. A very long par 3 guarded by a dam short (really wont come into play unless you really hit a bad one). Bunkers short and long with a lay-up area left. Shoot for the green and hope for the best!

Mandalay Golf Course, 15th Mandalay Golf Course

The18th: A 391 meter par 4. A fantastic finishing hole. Long with well placed fairway bunkers and a guarded but generous green. Shoot for the centre of the fairway and play a long to mid iron into the green. Will really change depending on the wind. A tricky putt if you finish above the hole here.

Mandalay Golf Course, 18th Mandalay Golf Course

On an extra note. I must say that I really enjoyed the back nine. It had many great par 4’s that weaved through the fields to a scenic hilly backdrop (may change as housing continues?).

Mandalay Golf Course

 

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Gardiners Run Golf Course

Gardiners Run golf course is one of the newest additions to the Yarra Valley. Located in Lilydale off Victoria Road, this course has been built to replace the Chirnside Park course and continue to serve the local community for all of their golfing needs.

I must start by saying that I had one of my most enjoyable rounds this year. As mentioned, the course is new and only opened in May 2014. That’s just three months ago. Like all new courses in mid-winter, the lies are a bit bare, the fairways don’t quite soak up the water as well as they will and the green surroundings are a little patchy. I was surprised that these blemishes were minimal and the course is still very, very playable.

I always think that if you’re building a new course then the greens have to be right. The greens here are in amazing condition and roll perfectly and the guarding bunkers are interesting and also in good condition.

I think the course designers have done an awesome job here, creating a real members course. All too often clubs are forced to move for financial reasons and end up building an overly demanding course. Here they have created a challenging but playable course with generous fairway landing areas. This is not to say it is easy, there are some very difficult holes that play long with wind but all in all just the right balance of short and long pars fours and fives. I really enjoyed all of the par threes. They were varied and look amazing, featuring water carries and well guarded greens.

This course has quite a bit of growing-in to do but this will only help to make it a better course. I would definitely recommend a game here. Really is a refreshing and exciting experience.

Here are a few of my favourite holes.

The 1st: A 365 meter par four. What a fantastic opening hole. Long slightly dog-legging right to an elevated green. You need to hit a good drive and avoid the fairway bunkers left and right. The smart play is to leave it in the middle of the fairway and play a mid to short iron into the green. Once on the green putting is fairly straight forward as the green is quite flat.

Gardiners Run, Gardiners Run Golf Course

The 3rd: A 157 meter par three. A very pretty hole which requires a water carry to a long thin green. Play for the middle and try to make your putt from there. Sure to be a favourite.

Gardiners Run, Gardiners Run Golf Course

The 11th: A 166 meter par three. A tough little one that requires a good tee shot to a guarded green. The play here is to err on the long side, as you will find less trouble here.

Gardiners Run, Gardiners Run Golf Course

The 18th: A 388 meter tough par four. What an amazing finishing hole. You drive the ball up the shute avoiding the fairway bunker on the right. A good drive will leave you with a mid iron to the green which is surrounded by water on three sides and a bunker short left. Go for the center or be brave and hit at the pin but miss and you will pay the price.

Gardiners Run, Gardiners Run Golf Course

Gardiners Run Golf Club have got everything spot on here. The course is amazing and will only get better, the staff in the pro shop and bar were very friendly and welcoming and the clubrooms are perfect. You really must come for a game here, it will not disappoint. I personally can not wait to come back.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Sandhurst Golf Course (North)

Sandhusrt Golf Club is the home of the PGA Australia. It is located in the prestigious sand belt of Melbourne. As you would expect, the golfing complex is amazing, with fantastic practice and teaching areas, and boasts two 18 hole championship courses (Champions and North).

When I was presented with the opportunity to play, I didn’t hesitate! Very fortunately, teaching comes with a wonderful perk – school holidays! One of my former colleagues had recently turned professional and started a traineeship. He plays tournaments regularly and often has the chance to bring along a friend. Finally it was my chance.

With a 7:30 meet, for an 8:00 shotgun start, it was early as I made my way to the course. It was one of those drives through the mist that seemed to promise a magical day. As I got there (way too early – very excited!) the sun was starting to come up over the 9th green. Amazing view, coffee in hand, life is just awesome, right?

The course has a great layout with a real mix of holes. Long and short par fours, threes and fives. There are some holes that do present with great scoring opportunities if you want to be aggressive. But all are well guarded and the price will be paid if you miss in the wrong spots. The fairways are wide in places but demanding in others. All holes feature well placed fairway and green side bunkers. The greens were a real highlight; firm, fast and true.

The course was in immaculate condition. Tees, fairways, greens and bunkers could not be faulted. Well done to the green staff here, what a job.

I really enjoyed the experience. The following would have to be my favourite holes on the day…

The 3rd: A 181 meter par three titled “Wall”. This hole has a fairly straight forward tee shot with plenty of room to miss on the right hand side. The green is large and features gentle undulations that run off the green in some parts. The green is guarded left and also long by a 4 foot stone wall. Missing either direction would be very damaging to your scorecard!

Sandhurst Golf Course, The Wall, Sandhurst Golf Course  North,

Sandhurst Golf Course 3rd “The Wall”

The 9th: A long par five at 512 meters. This hole has water running all the way up the left hand side, fairway bunkers that sit right in the middle and a moat that crosses in front of the green. Danger lurks everywhere here! The smart play is to drive well away from the water and fairway bunkers. Consider hitting a shorter club because going at this green for 2 is almost unthinkable (didn’t stop me from trying!). Layup to a comfortable shot and shoot for the center of the green from there.

Sandhurst Golf Course 9th, Bluidy burn, Sandhurst Golf Course North

Sandhurst Golf Course 9th “Bluidy Burn”

The 18th: A longish length par 4 at 392 meters. What a finishing hole. It is again guarded by water down the left. Well positioned bunkers in the fairway make for a demanding drive. The play here is to go long center right to avoid the shorter bunkers. This will leave a tricky approach over the fairway bunkers to a long narrow green. Putting is difficult as the green has some large undulations. A magnificent finishing hole which again rewards the brave. I could just imagine trying to finish a tournament on this demanding hole with the club rooms in the background.

Sandhurst Golf Course 18th, Woe Betide, Sandhurst Golf Course North

Sandhurst Golf Course 18th “Woe Betide”

All in all, a very tough course with some challenging holes which require power, precision and a good short game. What an amazing day and great company. After all, that’s what I love about this great game; the camaraderie amongst the group – the applause of good shots and the slurs for the bad ones. It’s not everyday you get to have a potential pro helping look for your lost ball in the water, rough, trees, moat…!

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Metropolitan Golf Course

Recently, I was lucky enough to play Metropolitan Golf Course and well, it really is a treat!

From the moment you arrive and see the immaculately manicured lawns and gardens you know you’re in for something special. Everything about this course exudes luxury, precision and a feeling of excellence. The new clubrooms are modern and spacious however I still love the hallway in the old building which meanders past photos of previous champions into the change rooms full of beautiful wooden lockers and Record Round boards featuring names like Greg Norman. You know your game’s going to be tested. In particular your sand game – bunkers, bunkers and more, yes, bunkers! Everyone of them beautifully presented and challenging.

This course really does deserve to be ranked in the top courses in Australia. Condition is amazing and the layout has a variety of holes which are just awesome. Every hole presents you with decisions to make and really will test your abilities both with the club in your hands and also your mind.

As you head out to the first tee, the green grass rolls like perfect carpet around the open practice area and surrounding greens. You can’t really help but feel like a Pro about to embark on a major championship. The nerves begin to rise and your heart pumps as you stand over the ball on the opening hole.

I really enjoyed almost all the holes on the course but the following would have to be my favourites…

The 2nd: A 160 meter par 3. The green is very generous as with most of the holes here. The drive is quite demanding to hit. Visually a tight hole with bunkers defending the green short left,  mid right and left, and long left. The play here is to shoot for the center of the green.

Metropolitan Golf Course 2nd

Metropolitan Golf Course 2nd

The 6th: A fantastic 470 meter par 5. This hole would have to be my favourite on the course. You need to drive the ball keeping it out to the left and short of the bunker. From here you can take a long club and have a go at the green, but beware avoiding the bunkers will be difficult. The safer choice is to lay up and hit a wedge in. The bunkers long are real trouble. Making par from there will be very, very difficult.

Metropolitan Golf Course 6th

Metropolitan Golf Course 6th

 

Metropolitan Golf Course 6th

Metropolitan Golf Course 6th Green

The 16th: At 345 meters this par 4 is not very long but the green is hidden around a dogleg right. From the tee you have choices. Go long and shape it around the corner and leave yourself an easy pitch or chip. Get this wrong though and you’re in the deep pot playing a long bunker shot or running the ball through into trouble. The smart play is to layup and play a full short iron into the green which is well guarded by very difficult bunkers.

Metropolitan Golf Course 16th

Metropolitan Golf Course 16th

 

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

 

Review: Whittlesea Golf Course

I got the opportunity to catch up with some friends today at Whittlesea Golf Club. I have not played there for a while now and it was great to have another look at this interesting and demanding layout.

The layout is fairly long with a handful of longer par fours, interesting par threes and shorter par fives. There’s lots of water in play and you can choose to take it on if your’re brave. It makes scoring much easier if you take this approach and just a little treacherous! This keeps things interesting and the scoring ticking over if you have the length to reach the par fives.

As summer has just ended I was expecting the course to be quite dry. I know that the course has watering for the greens and tees however the fairways only get rainfall. To my surprise the course has held up well over summer. Of course there were dry patches and some very thin lies, but all in all there were enough green patches around to place your ball on (card span) using preferred lies.

I think the biggest surprise was the condition of the tees and greens. They presented well with a good cover and rolled quite well (though a little slower and softer than I was used too). I noticed around the course that the very few bunkers they have are being filled in and mounded which I think is a really smart move – much easier to maintain, cheap, look good and don’t cause a heart ache for the unsuspecting golfer! The other thing I noticed is that there were some growing Kikuyu patches starting to spread around the fairways. I’m pretty sure they had been planted years ago and are still providing cover. Slowly but surely these patches will thatch together and give good cover. It would be great to see them actively planting more of these patches to speed up the process.

I have always enjoyed the layout and my time at Whittlesea Golf Course. These are some of my favourite holes…

Whittlesea Golf Course

Tapping in for birdie on the 5th

The 5th: At 341 meters it’s a mid length par four which requires a good drive as the fairway curves left to right and up a hill. Position is key to scoring well here, too short and you’re blocked out, too long and you’re in the bushes. Once you find yourself in the fairway with a look at the green you will need to negotiate an uphill approach to a double tier green that slopes from back to front and right to left. Find yourself on the wrong tier and a three putt is a real possibility.

Whittlesea Golf Course

The tee and green on the 8th at Whittlesea

The 8th: A short par three at 127 meters. You will need to keep the ball left here as the right side of the hole slopes severely down and the next shot will be very difficult. You do have room to the left here and you can use the bank (side of the hill) to roll the ball onto the green. A fairly straight forward green but being below the flag will help a lot.

Whittlesea Golf Course

13th at Whittlesea. Tee, Approach and Green

The 13th: My favourite on the course. A longer par four at 373 with water in play all the way down the right side. Bomb it long here and you’ll have a chance to score. The approach difficulty really depends on the drive. Leave it short and you’ll have to carry water and avoid more water to the right of the green. Hit it long and you’ll have a much eaiser short iron into the two tier green. Put the ball anywhere towards the centre of the green and a two putt here should be a piece of cake!

I hope to return to Whittlesea Golf Club soon for another game and to check out their fantastic looking clubrooms. Well worth a visit.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Heidelberg Golf Course

I guess if I’m going to write reviews on courses then a good place to start would be with the course I’m a member at. Heidelberg golf course has come along way in the time I have played there (around four years now). The Santa Ana fairways have established well and provide a lush consistent surface to hit from. Unlike some other courses they are not cut too firm which always gives you a chance to be aggressive with your shots.

The greens are always in great condition and roll true. I’d say they would be the real strength of the course, however constant work means other areas are fast closing-in on being the ‘draw card’.

This course always presents a challenge. You need to be able to work the ball left and right, play disciplined shots for position (if you want a good chance to score well) and read the subtle breaks on the greens.  I find it to have a good mix of longer and shorter holes all of which can be played aggressively to give yourself a chance to make birdies but each with elements of risk. The straight hitter will manage this course well. Going in the thick trees will almost always result in a punch to safety.

I have a few favourite holes to play…

The 2nd: A 165 meter par three. It’s the first real challenge to negotiate. This hole has water left and the thin, wide green is guarded by bunkers front and back. The smart play here is to shoot for the right side of the  green and try to putt at it from there.

Heidelberg Golf Course

2nd at Heidelberg

The 12th: A reasonable length par four at 365 meters. This hole is one that can be attacked, however if you get your drive wrong (left or right) you’ll be struggling to make par. A well positioned drive gives you a chance to attack with a mid to short iron. There are three pot bunkers to the right and a larger bunker to the left. This green can play difficult with a slope from back to front. Finish above the hole and you’ll need to putt with care.

Heidelberg Golf Course

12th at Heidelberg

The 18th: A fantastic finishing hole which requires a drawing drive to get close enough to play a short iron. Push the drive and you’ll still get a good look at it however you will have a much longer shot in. Again, this green is guarded by three well positioned bunkers which require good management (and execution) to avoid. This green is one of the more friendly on the course and gives you a reasonable chance to make birdie if you find yourself on in regulation.

Heidelberg Golf Course

18th at Heidelberg

This is my impression of the course and a few of my favourite holes. It is a fairly demanding course and requires a lot of committed shot making. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to play Heidelberg one day. If so, please feel free to let me know what your favourite holes are.

 Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Image sources: Heidelberg Golf Club