Port Fairy - Victoria - Australia

Port Fairy Golf Links,
Woodbine Road,
Port Fairy,
VIC 3284,

  • + 61 3 5568 1654

  • Sarah Colee

  • Kevin Hartley, Michael Clayton

  • Paul Smith

The delightful little Victorian coastal town of Port Fairy is located at the point where the Moyne River flows into the Southern Ocean and its harbour was established in the early 19th century by a variety of fishermen, whalers and sealers.

Originally known as Belfast, but renamed Port Fairy in 1887, the town first saw evidence of organized golf at the end of the 19th century when the golf club was formed and members played on a course at Southcombe Park until 1963, when they moved to their present site.

The initial 9-hole circuit was expanded to 12 holes ten years later and then it was further extended to a full 18-hole layout in 1985. Designer Kevin Hartley modified the routing in the early 1990s, repositioning three holes along the coastline and renowned architect Michael Clayton improved the layout again in recent times.

Port Fairy Golf Links co-hosts (along with nearby Warrnambool Golf Club) a very popular annual 36-hole amateur championship, the Shipwreck Coast Golf Classic but visiting golfers in search of a less competitive visit might time their arrival to coincide with the Port Fairy Folk Festival during the Labor Day long weekend in March.

Architect Michael Clayton kindly provided us with the following comments: This is one of the few true links courses in Australia. Barnbougle Dunes and perhaps Barwon Heads are the others. Port Fairy is a small club with a $400 membership fee and three guys on the grounds crew. The green fee is about $30 and that makes it the best value quality golf in Australia.

The club relocated from the middle of town in the 1960’s and carved out holes in the dunes by the ocean - first nine then eighteen. It was a good routing and the holes from the 12th to the 16th have fantastic views of the ocean.

We built a drive bunker at the 1st to replace a clump of tee-tree and a bunker further along for those who had driven away from the drive bunker. We did the same at the long par five 5th - the best long hole on the course, even though the 12th has spectacular views of the town and the ocean. We added fairway bunkers on the inside corner of the left doglegged 7th hole, rebuilt the par three 8th and added fairway bunkers to the right of the 9th fairway.

At the 14th - the best hole on the course - we convinced the club to remove the line of tee-tree along the right side of the hole to open up the amazing dune land behind and the ocean beyond. The transformation to the look and the feel of the hole was amazing. We built the 15th tee right at the back of the 14th green as previously the members had walked 100 yards to the tee and played from a far less interesting place, both in terms of the shot and the view.

Finally, we took tee-tree from both sides of the 16th hole - again, to open up the dunes and ocean on the right - and built fairway bunkers on the left.
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Description: Port Fairy Golf Links co-hosts (along with nearby Warrnambool Golf Club) a very popular annual 36-hole amateur championship, the Shipwreck Coast Golf Classic... Rating: 5 out of 6 Reviews: 3

In their lovely work on the subject of links golf, George Peper and Malcolm Campbell identify a handful of true links courses on the Australian continent. The least known is Port Fairy at the western terminus of the Great Ocean Road. The dominant feature here is a great dune, one in a series that run parallel to the coast of the Southern Ocean for miles. Had you been blindfolded, parachuted in and told you were playing among the great sandhills of Ireland, you’d have no trouble believing the location. The views from the 100 foot dune are spectacular and can include migrating whales just off shore. The course makes fine use of this feature, routing some holes along the crest, while others run along the side and still others go up or down the dune. Unfortunately, there’s not enough playable duneland for18 holes, and half a dozen are forced to use the featureless farmland inland from the dune. At $620, annual membership is one of golf’s great bargains (when I was there in March 2015, they’d decided to waive the $100 initiation fee). The limited funds derived from low dues shows up in the conditioning—not at all bad, but not comparable to Australia’s great courses, either. There are some greens with challenging contours and architect Michael Clayton has sprinkled enough fairway bunkers around to get the player thinking about the line of charm on some holes. The course’s strongest stretch lies in holes 14-16, but many of the rest are rather prosaic. The course is charming, providing a decent challenge, but also one that could be played day after day with little threat of boredom. This is a good, but not a great, golf course. If I were taking economics into account, the modest cost to play here would make for a much higher rating.
4 / 6
Port Fairy
July 30, 2015

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Port Fairy’s holes wend their way through some magnificent, rolling, sand dune country and from several vantage points, a variety of spectacular coastal vistas of the Southern Ocean are to be had. Fourteen is generally considered the club’s signature hole. The tee block is the high point on the course, from which the 360-degree panorama is breathtaking. Situated among elevated sand dunes, this classic links-land course is just grand in every respect. First and foremost, it’s a joy to play, fun, and a bona fide challenge to golfers of all skill levels. This undulating terrain remains largely untouched by man, with fairways simply mown for definition and therefore giving rise to a spectacular natural links feel. I have been fortunate to play the revered Scottish courses of St Andrews, Royal Troon, Carnoustie and Rye in England, and to my mind, Port Fairy Golf Links is representative of Australia’s equivalent of these classic links. Chris Croker.
6 / 6
Port Fairy
January 28, 2015

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I think top 100's ranking of #29 is about right for Port Fairy. Other Australian based rankings have it way too low. Having played in a number of times over the past 20 years I've watched it get better and better. Clayton's changes from a few years ago have made an already terrific course into a fabulous course. If PFGC were in or near Melbourne or Sydney it would be ranked within the top 20. It's that good. It is one of the few genuine links in Australia - think of it as Barnbougle Dunes/Lost Farm's little brother and you'll get the picture. It's a bit short, but it never feels it, because in the prevailing westerly 'breeze', even shortish into the wind par 4's need a long iron 2nd and the small greens mean you need to be precise. I think this is a better course than Barwon Heads - with which it is often compared. Fewer weak holes and a more coherent flow. PFGC has a lot in common in my view with Paraparaumu Beach, another of my personal favourites. Oh, and the stretch from 12-16 is just world class. Fabulous. I cant recommend PF enough. A lot of fun shots throughout, and how they keep it in the condition they do with such a limited ground staff is beyond me. You'd be happy to play this for the rest of your life, particularly when you consider the cost. As a visitor, I paid $25. That's the best value golf of this quality in Australia, if not the world.
5 / 6
Port Fairy
October 02, 2014

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