Founded back in 1896, The Eastern Golf Club moved to the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster in 1944, where it remained for almost seventy years before a decision was made to sell its course to real estate developer Mirvac and relocate a further thirty kilometres northeast of the state capital to just outside Yering, in the Yarra Valley.
Here, Greg Norman’s design company was hired to fashion a 27-hole layout and 9-hole par three course, with Norman commenting: “Yarra Valley’s Eastern Golf Club is a truly special place where members can enjoy teeing off with kangaroos while taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding Christmas Hills and Dividing Ranges.”
The three returning nines at Eastern combine to form the following 18-hole courses: South (holes 1 to 18, measuring 6,567 metres), North (holes 10 to 27, measuring 6,513 metres) and East (holes 1 to 9 and 19 to 27, measuring 6356 metres). Ponds come into play frequently on holes 10 to 27 but there’s only one water hazard – at the par four 3rd – on the 1 to 9 circuit.
During 2017, the club was forced to accelerate its drainage plans for the two-year-old property, after wet weather across the former flood plain had severely affected play. An additional 80km of drainage – twice as much as had already been installed – was planned to solve the problem. In addition, bunker sand was to be replaced and the old sand used to top dress the fairways.
The club kindly supplied an overview of some of the more memorable holes on the South course:
Hole 3 - 418-metre par four
One of the most spectacular and difficult holes awaits golfers at the par four 3rd. A downhill tee shot to a wide fairway sets up one of the most daunting shots on the course, a 200-metre carry over water to a difficult green. The smart play for most is to lay up to the right, away from the water, and try to make par that way, although that can be easier said than done.
Hole 4 - 357-metre par four
The tee shot plays uphill, adjacent to the 3rd hole, with a big bunker splitting the fairway. Golfers who leak their tee shot to the right face a much more difficult second shot to a green that sits at an offset angle. The best line into the green is from the left but bunkers long left and short right of the putting surface can make achieving a par score a very difficult task.
Hole 9 - 495-metre par five
The front nine ends with a downhill par five and Eastern’s magnificent clubhouse backdrops the hole. A powerful drive is required to give golfers a realistic chance of getting close to the green in two shots. The second shot is also played downhill, with more room to the right than you might think, but the green is a tough one to hold and very fast from above the hole.
Hole 13 - 176-metre par three
Standing on the 13th tee for the first time can be daunting as a tee shot of around 170 metres is required to avoid the huge beach bunker which catches anything short and left of the target. The pin position can change the look of the hole completely, and short right looks a good option, but it’s better to avoid a big score by having enough club to get on, or past the pin, and out to the right.