The Frankston Golf Club, which has gone by several names over the past 100 years including “The Little Course”, “The Millionaires” and the currently preferred “Little Frankston”, was laid out in 1913 after a group of golfing enthusiasts bought 246 acres of gently undulating land and sandy soil to build a course.
There’s no record of the designer apart from a reference in the club’s minutes which states: “a Mr. R. Banks reported on the measuring and planning of the nine-hole course.”
There were plans to extend “The Little Course” but they never came to fruition. The original 246-acre property has now shrunk to half that size, the result of various sub-divisions of land for residential purposes. What remains still retains the important ingredients of topography, sandy soils and vegetation.
Greens were rebuilt after devastating bush fires in January 1944 but the only major course modification to have taken place since then was the reconstruction of the 9th hole in 1996 to overcome drainage issues and strengthen what was considered a strategically weak hole.
Paul Mogford, in an article published in the Golf Architecture Magazine writes:
“The strength of FGC lies not only within its history, but, within the simplicity of its physical composition. There is little in the way of fussy mounding and complicated green complexes. The course is relatively short in length, measuring some 2900m, but the greens are small and sloping as they rely largely on surface drainage.
The golfing experience, both conscious and sub-conscious, is dream-like, and one cannot help but feel the presence and soul of golfers past. The routing takes the golfer on a journey, which capitalizes on various natural and contrived views in and out of the property, as one moves from enclosed areas of the course to higher ground.”
The following is an excerpt from Frankston's club history, titled: A step back in time...
"A visit to Little Frankston, via Golf Links Road from Frankston, through an unprepossessing gateway and up a short gravel drive, represents a step back in time, to a gentler, less-hurried age. The early visitors’ book shows signatures written by fountain pen in fine copperplate script.
Most golfers in the club’s early years arrived by train and horse and jinker, but eventually cars, many, possibly most, of them chauffeur-driven, became the popular form of transport. Indeed, it was reportedly not unusual during the 1920s to see close to 20 chauffeur-driven cars in the club’s car park.
It must be said that the early members of this singularly private and idiosyncratic club showed an unhealthy respect for the rules of golf. Local lore ordained that a tee shot that found the cross-bunkers on the fourth hole could be picked up and, without penalty, thrown in the direction of the green. Equally unusual was the accepted way of breaking a tied match – by replaying the ninth hole with putters only."
Built in 1913 Frankston GC became known as "The Millionaires Club" due to the pedigree of the handful of businessmen who conceived and financed the project. The members prefer to call it "the little course" as it is 9 holes only, and not overly long at that. But don't for a moment think this course is a pushover. The greens are small, and there is enough trouble to be found on each hole to reward strategic and precise golf.
Forget where you are, and you would be forgiven for thinking you were playing one of the world class sand belt courses up the road. It really is that good!
In my opinion the standout hole is the par 5 , 5th hole with elevated tee, ample bunkering to avoid off the tee and the 2nd shot, water to the left on the 2nd shot and a tight approach...
Right from the start the founding members put in place a planting program to ensure that the course is set in a virtual botanic garden of eucalypts...
With good reason the membership keeps this hidden gem from the public eye, and indeed many have not even heard of it. But if you EVER get an invitation to play Frankston GC, pinch yourself and then take up the offer as quick as you can!!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.