The residential golf resort of Heritage lies within a 300-acre estate to the north east of Melbourne in the Yarra Valley and it features two excellent 18-hole championship layouts. The St John course – the third Nicklaus course in Australia after Lakelands and the Australian – opened in 2000 with Tony Cashmore’s Henley course following in 2006.
The Henley course at Heritage Golf & Country Club is laid out around wetlands on the floodplain of the Yarra River, featuring deep and menacing flash-faced bunkers and contoured greens designed to test even the best of putters. Like its sister course, fairways were sand-capped during construction to provide an optimum medium for grass growth and water drainage.
Architect Tony Cashmore describes the course as follows: “Henley will examine strongly the very best players from its back tees – to try to overpower it will require great skill, and failure will be absolute. But a quieter, more thoughtful approach to its strategic values from the regular tees will reward all golfers seeking a beautiful and stimulating course to play.”
David Inglis died in 2003 of Motor Nuerone disease, but certainly left his mark on the Australian golf scene. David was a member at Huntingdale, and was the driving force behind one of Australia's most successful tournaments- The Masters at Huntingdale. David was also the man behind the National Golf Club at Cape Schanck. He would be proud to see how that club has developed over the years and now boasts four world class courses.
David also partnered with Dr John Tickell (of Hyatt regency Coolum fame) to develop The Heritage Golf & Country Club in Melbourne's north east suburbs. Originally Inglis signed up Jack Nicklaus to design two signature courses on the old St John of God site... The land for the two courses was largely in the river flats either side of the Yarra River, with hotel and housing developments on the higher ground. Inglis and his team began selling memberships in 1995
The St John course was the first built, opening for play in 1999. It was a slow build with major playing surfaces needing to be sand capped, and bunkering needing to be redone. Drainage on the low lying clay base was a problem in winter
During this period with a growing membership and no golf course to play Inglis organised regular competitions for the members at Melbourne's sandbelt courses, culminating in the club's first club championship at Huntingdale Golf Club in 1997 (which I won!).
With David Inglis gone, John Tickell took more of leading role at HG&CC, as they developed The Henley Course.
In 2003 The Federal Government approved the building of The Henley Course in it's environmental living zone, but Tickell and team baulked at paying for another Nicklaus 'signature course' and ended up contracting local Tony Cashmore to build the second course.
Cashmore is well known for his efforts at 13th Beach & The Dunes. The Henley Course designed by Cashmore follows the same course routing proposed by Nicklaus, but the look and feel of the course was completely different.
While Nicklaus greens and bunkers have a lineal look, Cashmore has a lot more undulation and movement throughout. It is a nice contrast.
I have always enjoyed playing The Henley and as a former member got to know the course pretty well. It's a course that offers variety, traversing river flats before heading to the hills. It boasts Australia's longest par 4, as well as some quality short par 4's. It's a course that requires a player to plot their way around, and it really helps when you get to know the contours of the greens.. With no houses or development in sight The Henley is just a lovely place to play golf.
Notable holes include:
- hole 4, a strong par 3 with water short, long & left
- hole 5, a longer par from an island tee to fairway protected by water left and bunkers right. The raised green is also well bunkered
- hole 6, a teasing par 5 with a large dead tree very much a factor on the tee shot and water left the length of the hole
- hole 12, a pretty par 3 with an amazing green!
- hole 13, a lovely par 5 winding it's way up a valley to an elevated green containing at least a few buried elephants..
- hole 14, a longer par 4 dogleg over a pond to a well bunkered green
- hole 15, a short par 3 over a pond to a tricky green
The Henley is a very good members course, but unfortunately has been 'let go' a little in recent years as The Heritage has suffered through ownership changes.
At the time of writing the course has benefited from a concerted effort to restore it. Playing surfaces are lush & green, but will need some time to bring them back to the links like conditioning intended by Tony Cashmore. All bunkers are out of play.
Unfortunately the ownership issues have seen the membership dwindle in recent years and although efforts are being made to right the ship, there is still much to be done before The Heritage Golf & Country Club lives up to it's potential.
At its best it is an outstanding facility
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
There had been a significant burst of rain on and around this course the afternoon and evening before I played, but the course was only showing minor effects and the ground staff had done a great job early in the morning. The water hazards were certainly still full to overflowing, but the fairways and greens were fine. Overall conditioning at both courses of the 36-hole club were a little below expected, likely due to ongoing potential financial issues I had heard about the club owners.
The Henley course is a big, bold and brash course compared to the St. John course next door and a solid game off the tee is essential. I especially liked the stretch of holes from 11-16 which worked their way up, around and down a hill. I'm not sure if a cart is mandatory at this course but the first tee and 18th green are over a kilometre from the clubhouse and the course doesn't return back there after 9, so it's all quite a ways from anything not already being carried.
I played as a visitor staying at the on site hotel which is all very nice, but not sure either of the courses are great value for money, compared to other options in and around Melbourne.
Just played my 74th course from the Australian Golf Digest magazine top 100 listing of 2014 with Carl Murphy aka aussiegolfquest, Mark Ryan and our member host who is one of my good golfing buddies Michael Hodgson.
Having missed out on playing this course when I played here at the sister course in 2015, it was time to see which course is better!
The Henley course is just that, more elevation / directional change than the St. John course.
Great bunkering and water at the Henley course as will be illustrated through my photos.
Really enjoyed the round here with the boys!