Barwon Heads - Victoria - Australia

Barwon Heads Golf Club,
Golf Links Road,
Barwon Heads,
Victoria,
3227,
Australia


  • +61 (03) 5255 6255

  • Nigel Newton

  • Dr Alister MacKenzie

  • Ashley Andrews & Ian Donnelly

Although not the length of modern championship courses, Barwon Heads is a fair test of golf. The course lies on the south coast of the Bellarine Peninsula 20 minutes from Geelong and 75 minutes from Melbourne. It’s located on land adjacent to Thirteenth Beach Golf Links sharing a strip of coastline that gives way to the Bass Straits.

Barwon Heads was founded in 1907 in Geelong and was initially a nine-hole links on land north of the village of Barwon Heads. The links on the present site was developed in 1920, being laid out by Victor East, then the Royal Melbourne Golf Club professional.

The course was initially 5,720 yards with a bogey of 77. The first six holes that circulate on a piece of land across the access road to the beach, northeast of the clubhouse are in fact the most recent additions. These six holes are my favourite combination on the course on account of their closeness to traditional Scottish links in both atmosphere and playing character. They are also closest to the dunes and the beach beyond. This section of the course has a very open feeling to it. You play all holes within sight of the traditional weatherboard clubhouse, one of the most handsome golf structures in Australia.

The above passage is an extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.

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Description: Barwon Heads Golf Club was founded in 1907 in Geelong and was initially a nine-hole links on land north of the village of Barwon Heads. Rating: 5 out of 6 Reviews: 3

Barwon Heads Golf Course is for the most part played over a type of links land that is quite unique in this part of the world. The first ten holes are laid out over the pick of the terrain and remind one of Cruden Bay. The land pitches and roles and often there are target landing areas that are quite small if one is to stay on the “high ground” and so maximise a view of the green ahead. Like some of those Scottish links, the sea is rarely in view but is only ever a sand dune or two away. The 7th hole even provides a drive across a public road and footpath – again uncommon in Australia and more reminiscent of the UK. The remaining eight holes are in my opinion a little less inspiring, apart perhaps from the downhill par 3, Barwon Heads Golf Course - Photo by reviewer13th hole of 128 metres. This is the classic “postage stamp” hole – and doesn’t every links course have to have one of those? The remaining “inward” holes play along largely flat ground that borders some marsh land and whilst they are pleasant enough to play they just lack the pizazz of the earlier offerings. The course is quite short by modern standards but the terrain and wind add sufficiently to the challenge to make it a good test of golf. Given it was the heat of summer when we played, the course was in excellent condition. The fairways were well covered with a native couch that gave good bounce and roll. The greens are almost pure Poa Annua, provided a true putting surface and seem to thrive in the seaside environment. The hazards consist of relatively small bunkers by Australian standards, but not as small as the pot bunkers of the UK. There are also some barren sandy and stony wastes. The clubhouse is a quaint and accommodating structure from the 1920’s and sits dominant at the high point of the land so that it is visible from many holes on the course. It still retains 19 guest rooms, so if you make the journey down there you have a room to retire to after a meal in the well catered for dining room. I am torn between a 4 and 5 ball score for the course. The opening holes easily deserving of 5 and the closing ones a 4. Given there are just marginally more quality holes than not I’ve opted for 5 balls – but only just.
5 / 6
Barwon Heads
January 21, 2016


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My first shot at Barwon Heads went about 50 yards dead left into a clump of bushes just short of one of the houses that border the course. Immediately, I had two fears: 1) That my host, whom I had met for the first time twenty minutes earlier, would banish me from the course and 2) I was about to die, courtesy of one of the deadly Australian creatures I’d been reading about. I didn’t expect to encounter a shark or a crocodile, but how about a snake? The world’s ten most poisonous snakes are found in Australia. Fortunately, neither my host nor any dangerous creatures pounced upon me and I went on to enjoy 18 holes of links golf. The look of the land and of the course is a bit reminiscent of Prestwick: while the ocean is not in sight, you can hear it right over the dunes. If you were blindfolded and parachuted in, you’d swear you were in Scotland……until you got very close to the “gorse bushes” and determined they were Australian ti-tree. Barwon Head’s most famous hole is 13, a tiny downhill par 3 without a single bunker, but enough contours to make a recovery from off the green quite challenging. Golf has been played here for over a century and the beach just over the dune is called Thirteenth Beach, in honor of the hole. The other par 3s make for equally fine golf, particularly #8, played over a sandy waste area that would do Pine Valley proud; and #17, whose green is set in an amphitheater of dunes (which are entirely man-made, but impressive nonetheless.) The rest of the greens feature fine contours as well and can be reached either in the air or along the ground, providing plenty of strategic choices. The greens were in good condition in March, 2015, despite being composed of dreaded poa annua. The temperate climate limits the wild growth that makes poa the sworn enemy of superintendents in warmer climes.Barwon Heads is a charmer, in addition to being a very good golf course. The charm is only enhanced by the unusual multi-hued flags that adorn the flagsticks. You can get a good view by looking at my profile.
5 / 6
Barwon Heads
August 01, 2015


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For me, Barwon Heads was the surprise of my trip. This was reminiscent of a traditional British links course and even the clubhouse felt homely and traditional. Why can’t more Australian golf clubhouses be like this I wonder? The course itself is a bit short by modern day standards to be considered truly great by most people but I absolutely loved its quirkiness. The first six holes are great links holes and the collection of par threes are excellent. Not quite in the same challenge league as its next-door neighbour Thirteenth Beach but this is the club I’d want to be a member of if I lived in this part of the world. I loved it.
5 / 6
Barwon Heads
March 26, 2010


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