Moonah Links complex is a large, 600-acre, golf tourism development in Victoria which contains housing, tennis courts, swimming pool, spa and – at its centre – two fantastic golf courses.
Located an hour's drive south east of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula near Sorrento, the Open and Legends 18-hole layouts are laid out over a tumbling coastal landscape ideally suited for constructing modern links courses and the naturally draining sandy soil means that golf can be played all year round.
Home to Golf Australia (formerly the AGU), the Open at Moonah Links is a championship course built and prepared for national competition and the Australian Open will be held here every few years on a rotational basis. It is a course that will really test the professionals from the back tees with lengthy par four holes, tight fairways and heavily contoured greens.
Completed in 2002, the Open course hosted the 2003 Australian Open which was won by Peter Lonard. Two years later, Robert Allenby claimed the title when the championship returned.
The Open course can be set up with five tee placements at each hole to play anything from a relatively genteel 5,912 yards to a mighty 7,461 yards. This flexibility allows the higher handicapped player to still play the same track as the professionals without getting too badly beaten up!
A feature hole on the front nine is the 184-yard, par three, 7th hole which is played from the highest point on the course where cross winds can present a severe obstacle to marking a three on the scorecard. The round ends with the mammoth 640-yard par five which has no fewer than eleven bunkers along its length in an attempt to keep the golfer on their toes right until the end of the round.
The Moonah Links (Open) course has some of the best greens I have ever played on they were phenomenal, so pure, so quick and so unforgiving. They say you use your putter more than any other club in your bag and on this course most of the pleasure comes from taming greens that would leave PGA pros rueing missed opportunities.
The course follows the tried and tested Mornington Peninsular links format, you will not be disappointed by what is on offer. The first is fun a par four to get you warmed up. Unfortunately I injured my calf on the third hole and from then on was limited in my shot selection. Taking on the rest of the course with a 5 iron or lower was pretty entertaining and rewarding. Many of the par fours were reachable with two 5 irons but anything wayward was punished. The rise and fall of the fairways can leave shots heading down the right on the left and vice versa. The first cut of rough which is generously wide is playable but the thicker stuff will leave you looking for balls all day long.
If you put all the component pats of this course together it is knocking on the door of the Top 100 but isn't quite there, maybe in years to come it can make it. For now a weekend of golf that involves the Open and the neighbouring Legends at Moonah Links would be reward enough for any and every golfer.