Golf began in the Lakes Entrance area in 1935 on ground to the north of the town, where the modern day secondary college is now situated. This property was known as the “oil bore grounds” and the Austral Oil Company wanted the land back in the mid-1950s, forcing the club to relocate to a 136-acre tract of lowly-lying, swampy Crown land covered with wattle and tea-tree.
Toby Cummings takes up the story in this edited extract from The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom:
“It was still 1956 when the club engaged Vern Morcom to lay out an 18-hole course. When he got there, he walked the area, driving pegs into the ground to mark the position of tees and greens, with the contour plans the only thing he committed to paper.
Construction work started soon after, though protracted negotiations meant the lease was not formally secured until 1958. Opening day was 5 November 1961, with the first nine holes (the north side, now the back nine) considered ready for play.
For the first seventeen years, it was just nine holes, in a different format to today’s back nine. In 1966, Roy Rawlings offered his family bulldozer to start work on the second nine. As there were no contour plans for these holes, Melbourne designer John Watson was brought in to help.
A series of delays, mostly related to the water supply, meant that this southern nine was not brought into play until 11 June 1978. The fairways were predominantly sand, and members took kikuyu sprigs out with them to plant during their rounds.
As curator during the 1970s and 80s, Peter Le Maitre oversaw construction of the southern nine and the rebuilding of the 13th, 14th and 15th holes [damaged by flooding in December 1978 and January 1979].
Over the following two decades, John Stapleton continued the implementation of the master plan that course architects Ted and Geoff Parslow formulated in 1981. This included bunker building and modifications (4th, 6th, 8th, 14th, 15th), mounding (1st, 2nd, 8th) and major reconstruction work on the fairways (2nd, 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 16th).
There is no doubting the beauty of the setting, with bird sounds competing with the crash of the waves. Though sometimes described as a links, Lakes Entrance doesn’t play as one. The ground is remarkably flat, save for a few tees raised into dunes and the heaving fairways of 14, 17 and 18.
Greens are generally large and receptive. The kikuyu does not provide a firm, close-cropped surface to play from, preventing the bump and roll possibilities so integral to links golf. As a result, the layout plays its full 6104m, and there is no shortage of strong two-shotters.”
The front nine at Lakes Entrance is predominantly a links, and holes three through seven run adjacent to the beach on the back of the primal dune. Combined with challenging opening holes (1 & 2 ) on the tidal lagoons, and the front half is a cracking nine holes.
The back nine is a little quieter and moves between some typical Aussie bushland and more tidal lagoons (holes 11 & 15). Fifteen is an outstanding par three played from an elevated tee over a lagoon to a green with an ocean backdrop. It's a fantastic golf hole!
Notable holes include:
- hole 2, a strong par with a tee shot diagonally across a lake- how much to you take on?
- hole 3, a mid length well bunkered par 3 close to the beach
- hole 4, a long par 4 with a tee on the frontal dune close to the beach- the diagonal tee shot over the ti-tree needs to be long and accurate
- hole 6, a longer par 3 running parallel to the beach to a green tucked tightly in the trees
- hole 7, a long par 4 with a fairway right beside the beach. The green sits in the trees and access gets tighter the closer you get!
- hole 11, a nice par 3 over a lake
- hole 15, a shorter par 3 from an elevated tee over water. With the ocean as a backdrop it looks amazing .
Lakes Entrance is a quality golf course in a gorgeous setting. It flies under the radar a little for such a good course. Players move through a variety of terrains to complete the 18 holes. Recommended!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.