Naracoorte Golf Club’s course was established on a 200-acre tract to the north of Naracoorte, where the local council had excavated three quarries in search of aggregate material for road building. The task of clearing scrub and creating fairways fell to a small group of volunteers who had practically no machinery.
Nonetheless, nine holes were established and a small lean-to shed erected in the southeast corner of the property as a clubhouse and the course opened on 6th April 1928 with a Canadian mixed foursome event. A new clubhouse was built in a more central position and the holes were renumbered in 1934.
By 1939, another five holes had been added to the layout but further changes had to wait until after World War II. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1953 that the club thought about converting its greens from scrapes to grass. After a successful trial, Vern Morcorm was called in to upgrade the course.
Toby Cumming takes up the story in his book The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom:
“Vern set out to eliminate all the weaknesses of the existing layout, while disturbing play as little as possible. Existing tees were far too small and unnecessarily elevated. With bunkers cut to a minimum, extra yardage was necessary and trees were to play an important part in the strategy.
Vern suggested that the quarries with outcrops of stone be gradually turned into grassy hollows. He sought to overcome problems with the setting sun in winter, advising that the shorter teeing ground on 13 be used, even though this cut the hole from 418 to 345 yards.
Provision was made for a practice area and green close to the clubhouse. The culmination of a great amount of work establishing the new greens, tees and fairways came on 10 May 1958, when the new course was declared open.
Naracoorte is known for its firm, fast greens. There are excellent examples of greenside bunkers cut into the sandy subsoil right to the edge of the putting surface, a feature of Melbourne’s sandbelt that can be traced back to MacKenzie.
A wide shot is penalized by the bunker, but an even wider shot is further penalised with a difficult chip over the bunker that has only the slick green as its landing area.
The 5,972m par 72 course skirts around a central high point. As if the holes are timid, scared to stray too far from home, the 2nd, 4th, 7th 9th and 15th all return to the clubhouse area. Having six possible starting points (1, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 16) is remarkable.”