Situated on the Bellarine Peninsula, just over an hour’s drive from downtown Melbourne, the sandy soiled fairways at Curlewis Golf Club overlook the sparkling waters of Corio Bay. It’s a splendid place to play golf, with uninterrupted views north to the You Yang mountain range.
The following edited extract is from The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom by Toby Cumming:
“Having bought land at Curlewis, out towards Drysdale, the East Geelong Golf Club commissioned Vern to design their new course in May 1947. The first 9 holes were ready for play by 1949, but failure with the on-site bore was a decisive blow. With no alternative water supply, course development was halted and the land leased for grazing.
It lay dormant for nearly 20 years until a new water source was found, allowing course construction to recommence in 1968. Vern’s layout finally came to fruition in 1970, with the opening of the new newly-founded Curlewis Golf Club’s 18-hole course.
The sandy base and the rolling landscape were major positives, though the dimensions of the property – a narrow isosceles triangle – limited the routing options, especially on the flatter country at the western tip. There have been two master plans drawn up since – by Kevin Hartley in 1976 and Michael Clayton in 2001 – but the bones are unchanged.
Locals David and Lyndsay Sharp bought the course in 2015 and, committed to upgrading the layout, they retained the design services of Michael Clayton. Together with course superintendent Rob Bradley, the OCCM team made subtle alterations, adding and removing several bunkers, re-aligning some tees and removing swathes of trees and scrub.”
Measuring 6,150 metres from the championship markers, this links-style course is laid out with two returning nines that are characterised by a minimum number of trees, the strategic positioning of bunkers and naturally undulating couch fairways that play to firm and fast greens.
Feature holes include the short par four 3rd, where out of bounds threatens on the left and the green slopes both from back to front and left to right, the boomerang-shaped par five 6th, with a green that’s severely tilted from back to front, and the tough par four 15th, which has water lurking to the left of the fairway as it veers left towards the green.
Curlewis is a fairly rural members course set 20 minutes south of Geelong, or probably just over an hour from central Melbourne. Although rural, it is better than average in terms of design and conditioning. The course is based on sand and has small undulations, but makes best use its routing with plenty of dog-legs and strategy required to score well. The course is interesting enough without having a wow factor and without having to be tricked up in any way. Clubhouse is also understated but had a solid group in after a competition round and everyone seemed in good spirits. Also interesting was the live music coming across the road from a nearby winery, where there was a decent crowd enjoying their lunch; it just added to the atmosphere of an enjoyable round.