Melbourne’s Golfing Sandbelt
Melbourne’s reputation as an international sporting epicentre is well documented, however for those outside of the game, few would grasp the significance of city’s standing in the world-class golfing facilities a stone’s throw from the city centre.
The term ‘Sandbelt’ is both a geological reference to the Brighton Coastal Plain and the collective reference to 8 golf clubs that stretch across Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. The Plain which has its apex in the southern part of Melbourne’s city centre expands east to the Dandenong ranges and south through to the city’s southern boundary hugging Port Phillip Bay. The land’s feature of gentle undulations and shallow dunes provide rich potential for golfing land. A visit to the region in 1926 by seminal golf architect Dr Alister MacKenzie to the Royal Melbourne Club helped transform the potential of the land and elevate its reputation whilst inspiring a whole new wave of design aptitude amongst local shapers.
As well as sitting slightly back from the coast, most visitors will be surprised at the Sandbelt’s position in prime residential land; all courses are set inland and are renowned for understated elegance, sharp bunkering and a recent push for the reintroduction of indigenous plant species.
Casual golfers may baulk at the cost of play or perceived exclusivity at the Sandbelt courses, however, most international players will recognise the value in playing worldwide bucket list courses at prices comparably cheaper than in the US or Europe.
Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne remain ‘must play’ tracks and constantly poll top billing on endless glossy magazine listicles. For those after a fresh experience, the recent redevelopment of Peninsula Kingswood by local design heroes OCM has been showered in praise by the local and visiting golf communities.
As an extension of any golf trip to these parts of the world, keen adventurers should also consider a few nights further south to the Mornington Peninsula. The National Golf Club, with a recent Tom Doak re-design, sits justifiably in the same league as Sandbelt courses while casual hitters might also enjoy St Andrews Beach or The Dunes. The area is the most popular weekend getaway for Melburnians so travel spouses and those with a desire to enjoy time off the courses can visit an abundance of wineries, breweries, day walks and hot springs.
If you find yourself back in Melbourne and chasing a bit more of an authentic local experience, visitors should book a tee time at Yarra Bend in the city’s north. The course won’t win any design awards but the ambling fairways marry up to the Yarra river and provide a wonderful bush setting right in the heart of the city.
If you can time your game for dawn or dusk, you can enjoy the sights and sounds (and smells) of the local fruit bat population coming or going. For an even more hyper-local experience, Melbourne’s most accessible course is at Royal Park which visitors can get to on a local tram or train only 10 minutes from the city centre. Here you will find a broad range of golfers blowing off steam with a track that weaves in and out of parklands, residential housing and tram tracks. The perfect place for a quick nine and cold beer on a hot summer night.
|This post is written by Melbourne By Foot friends Caddie Magazine.
Publishers of the international golf & travel Magazine.
All pics courtesy of Caddie Magazine.