The following edited extract is taken from Toby Cumming’s The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom:
“Formed in July 1901, the Mildura Golf Club moved to its current location in 1912. In August 1953, Vern went to inspect the course, flying up from Essendon airport. His first impression was that there was too much irregularity in the bunkering system, tree planting and tee outlines, and he advised the club to move away from the straight and formal.
He felt that many of the existing bunkers were quite valueless, and objected to the pattern of having bunkers at similar distance on both sides of the drive or approach. He encouraged Mildura to build a trial grass practice green – scrapes provide an excellent putting area but a great deal of golfing pleasure is lost by not being able to pitch into a grass green.
Though Vern did not attempt to redesign the whole course, his list of recommendations was substantial. It included extending the short outward nine to 3014 yards by lengthening two holes and building a pair of new par fours for the 8th and 9th. Most of the inward nine proposals related to bunkering, though extra length on the 17th brought it to 530 yards.
Other course architects were brought in – Sloan Morpeth in the 1960s (grass greens were established in 1965), then Kevin Hartley in the 1970s. In 2011, the Davey Shearer Design Group embarked on a major redesign that integrates new housing. Once development is complete, the course will be 5995, par 72, with the nines flipped – the eastern half will be the front nine and the western half the back nine (thus reverting to how it was in Vern’s time).”