Reviews

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: Taylormade Tour Preferred Glove

Taylormade, Taylormade Tour Preferred, Taylormade Golf Glove

To some it may seem a little silly to review a glove, but to those out there who really appreciate performance and feel and understand what a glove can do for them, I have found a great glove at a reasonable price point.

I had been using the Taylormade Targa Tour glove for some time and really loved its performance and long-lasting wear time. Unfortunately the time came when I just couldn’t find it any more, so had to make a choice on a new glove.

Sticking with Taylormade I decided to try out the new tour model; the Taylormade Tour Preferred glove. It features AAA Cabretta leather for that soft feel, a new stretch fit closure system and a moisture wicking wrist band. The glove is quite different to my previous model with larger breathing holes on the fingers and no smaller perforations over the palm and back of the hand.

The first notable thing about this glove is that it fits really well. Maybe a little tighter out of the box than the previous model but it will stretch out a little bit. Sizing is still the same for me. The leather is high quality and has that supple feel. The closure system is no doubt an upgrade. It has an elastic stretch section which really allows you to find the right feel. With a large velcro patch this glove will wear well and always provide a comfortable fit.

All in all your golf glove needs to perform well in a range of temperatures and conditions. You should always choose one that you like the feel of and that functions just the way you like. This glove is definitely a high-end glove and performs just the way I like my gloves to.

Taylormade, Taylormade Tour Preferred, Taylormade Golf Glove

Cost: You will find them for around $20

Website: Taylormade (note this is the US website as the AU site does not list the TP Glove).

 Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

Review: Cobra AMP Forged Irons

Cobra AMP Forged Irons, Cobra Irons

Appearance
A very classic looking club with a splash of colour. The finish on the face is matte where the grooves are and polished everywhere else. 3-7 irons have visible weighting on the bottom of the club and 8-G have no extra weighting. All the clubs have a really nice AMP forged stamp on the back which exudes class. 3-9 irons have a pocket cavity which is filled with rubber and is stamped ‘Cobra’. These pockets look really nice and let you know you’ve got some help out there. PW and GW have no pocket or weighting and look like traditional forged wedges.  The cavity on the rear of the face has an aluminium back-plate which is a striking orange colour and features the Cobra logo. The grips are also made to match in the orange.

As a better player I don’t like looking down and seeing a huge topline. It just doesn’t suit my eye. They have done a few very clever things with these clubs and the most striking is the bevelled topline. It has had some material taken away and gives you the illusion of a thin precise topline without losing the benefits of having more perimeter weighting. The other is that at address you can not see the pocket. They almost look like blades which I really like, as that’s what I have mostly played with.

Put these next to the Titliest 712 AP2’s and at address they look almost the same! Turn them up and look at the sole and you’ll notice that the soles on the Cobra AMP Forged are slightly wider and the visual weighting can be seen on the Cobra 3-7 irons.

This club really inspires confidence. I just felt like I was always going to hit them well.

Cobra Irons, Cobra AMP Forged Irons

Cobra Irons, Cobra AMP Forged Irons

Performance
The first thing that struck me was the feel. The forged face is soft and the ball just springs off. The clubs are weighted well and the KBS S+ shafts react just like you would expect for premium shafts.

The wider sole definitely helps out with turf interaction, allowing the club to slide through and catch the ball cleanly. I’ve only played pocket cavity irons a few times and I really like the feel of these clubs. The vibration dampeners must really work because shots feel extremely smooth yet crisp. When I middle a shot, I can really feel where the ball left the face. However, when I hit one off the toe or heel it isn’t too smooth though by no means harsh. I can still feel where it came off. This is really important to me. I like to know when I’ve hit a bad one and I also like to feel where the miss was. You can tell with these clubs.

These clubs do fly a little further than my previous clubs but I think this is more to do with the strong lofts in the Cobra AMP forged (see Specifications below). I can easily work the ball left to right, high and low. Definitely a club that will do what it’s told.

All in all they are forgiving, accurate and sweet feeling. They provide the right amount of feedback for the player seeking to improve their game and combine advanced club construction methods to give the player every advantage you can get.

Cobra Irons, Cobra AMP Forged Irons

Specifications
All clubs are 1 degree strong. 3 iron come in at 20 degrees through to PW at 45 degrees.

For more information see link below.

Recommendation
A huge yes! I just love them. They are in the bag and staying there for sure.

For better to mid players seeking some advantages in control and feel. Very consistent distance control with the ability to work the ball.

Cobra Irons, Cobra AMP Forged Irons

For more information on these clubs visit Cobra Golf.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

All opinions expressed are my own. Information accurate at time of publication.

 

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: Cobra Tour Trusty Wedges

Cobra Wedge, Cobra Golf

Appearance
A very nice looking club with a traditional shape. They are a good size and looking down at them they instil a feeling of confidence.
Putting the clubs down at address they have a very straight leading edge with minimal to no offset. They look like precision clubs that are aggressive and ready to tackle any challenge.
The top line is not too thin and the club sits squarely on the ground making it easy to get your alignment right.
The clubs are a matte silver colour which reduces glare and the back K Notch section is polished to a shiny silver. They have a nice orange printed name on the back with great branding and graphics which gives the clubs a prestigious look – you know that the designers have thought about both performance and aesthetics. You have a real feeling that you’re playing with some very special clubs.

Tour Trusty, Cobra, Cobra Golf

Tour Trusty, Cobra, Cobra Golf

Performance
Before I talk too much about performance let’s look at some of the technology in these clubs. Cobra says their “15% larger and wider cnc milled grooves create more spin and control trajectory on even the shortest wedge shots”, that the “Notch K-Grind Sole optimises performance and versatility” and their “Proprietary Variable feed Rate (VfR) milling delivers optimised surface roughness across the face to maximise spin on all shots”.
These clubs perform very well from tight fairway lies, thick rough and also from the sand. There is no doubt that these clubs are designed to spin. They rip the ball and I found myself being able to spin the ball back on full shots, sometimes too far, coming off the green. There is no doubt that the larger grooves and milling works based on the fact I managed to control spin from even long rough! After about two months of use the spin is still good and I find the spin a bit more controllable now. I guess the milling is a bit duller. All this extra spin is great when it comes to shorter chip shots, I am really able to control the ball when I make an aggressive downward strike.
The thing that I love most about these wedges is the K-Grind Sole. I often find myself in tricky positions around greens and need to open the club up to play flop shots. This club, while feeling a bit larger and heavier in my hands (which I like because it gives me a good feeling of where the club head is during the swing), seems to be able to open up with the leading edge very flat to the ground. This ensures you are able to slide through the turf and pick the ball up nice and clean – no chance of a thin (unless you get it wrong)!
The shaft and grip are amazing. They feel great in the hands and the shaft is well suited to the club, giving it a responsive, positive and solid feel at impact. Even shots that find the toe and heel feel pretty good and travel well through the air. I find that I hit these clubs fairly high and they land very soft with plenty of spin to stop the ball.

Tour Trusty, Cobra, Cobra Golf

Price
At around $135 AUD these wedges are great value.

Specifications
These wedges come in two degree increments. They are available in 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64 degree options. The 56 and 60 degree models come in two bounce options.
All wedges come with Dynamic Gold S200 shafts and Golf Pride New Decade Multicompound grips.

Cobra Tour Trusty, Cobra, Wedges

Recommendation
I would recommend these wedges to just about anyone from low markers to mid to high handicappers. If you are in the market for new wedges then do yourself a favour and try these out.

The clubs tested were: 56° with 12° of bounce and 60° with 6° of bounce.

For more information on these wedges visit Cobra Tour Trusty.

Luke @ Golf Blog Australia

All opinions expressed are my own. Information accurate at time of publication.

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