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.