Established in 1904, Mornington Golf Club moved from its first location at Tanti Creek to Mornington Racecourse in 1925. Sixteen years later, it relocated again to a 9-hole private course at the Dava Lodge Guesthouse.
In 1946, a lease was agreed with Sir George Tallis for a 120-acre portion of his land to be used for a new golf course. Sloan Morpeth and Vern Morcorm were consulted by it was Gus Jackson, who had won Mornington’s first major tournament – the Neunhoffer Gold Cup – in 1927, who was tasked with setting out the fairways.
Toby Cumming takes up the story in his book The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom:
“Issues with construction tenders, water availability, lack of money, and administrative turmoil meant lengthy delays for the Beleura Hill course. Only nine holes were ready for the official opening on 29 April 1950.
In October 1954, Vern was again contacted to advise on the layout of the new holes and on alterations to existing holes. Four new greens were built in 1954, followed by another five in 1955. It wasn’t until late 1955 that the full eighteen holes were playable.
Much has changed since… in 1967, Jack Watson was appointed course architect and he revised the layout when another 17 acres were purchased.
New holes were built in the southeast corner (today’s 11th and 12th) allowing rearrangement of the cramped holes in the southwest corner, and a one-shotter was added (today’s 5th).
The alterations continue, with the club currently building a par three with a partly obscured green that takes advantage of the spectacular cliff-top site to the east of the current 14th green and 15th tee.
To play Mornington is to recognise Sloan Morpeth’s polite restraint in describing the country as ‘a little too steep’. The slope of the hill dominates, and routing the holes would have been a serious challenge. Green sites are generally well selected, and not overly built up to any level, but many of the fairways fight a difficult battle against gravity.
A history of modification is the enemy of coherence, and the expansive modern greens of 2, 10 and 13 are a stark contrast to the little flat discs of 4, 6 and 9. A drawback of the current layout is that it necessitates a long walk from the 16th green to the 17th tee that crosses the middle of the long par three 7th.”