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Royal Melbourne (East)

Royal Melbourne (East)

Black Rock, Victoria
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Gary Lisbon
01/17
Gary Lisbon
Black Rock, Victoria
Rankings

“Golf came and went in Melbourne in the 1840s,” wrote Sir Peter Allen in The Sunley Book of Royal Golf; “the Club such as it was ending with a dinner at the Royal Oak Hotel in 1850. After that the discovery of gold in New South Wales and Victoria caused a huge boom and influx of people, followed by slump, which put aside most frivolous activities, so that organised golf was not revived in Melbourne until 1891.

GalleryGary Lisbon
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Gary Lisbon
01/17

The Melbourne Golf Club which was formed that year subsequently divided into two, one of which today is the Royal Melbourne Golf Club and the other the Metropolitan Golf Club.

The split was caused by disagreement among the members about moving from the original site occupied by the club at Caulfield. One group, led by J.M. Bruce, moved out to Sandringham, not far from the sea, taking with them the royal title which had been granted in 1895. The new course was opened in 1901. The other club remained onsite as the Caulfield Golf Club, but later in 1908 moved out to the sand-belt area and became known as the Metropolitan Club, which flourishes today.”

The following passage is a brief edited extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.

"Although six holes from the East course are incorporated with twelve from the West when Royal Melbourne is presented in its championship livery, when played in its entirety as the playing style of the East course is distinctly different. The bunkers are not so cavernous as to diminish the golfer. The fairways, though generous when compared to the Sandbelt average, are not as wide as on the West.

While it does not quite offer the grand theatre of the West, it is still a fantastic golfing experience and holds its own versus all other courses in the Melbourne area.

It is with the par threes I think where Alex Russell and Mick Morcom’s design most closely approximate their Svengali. All bar the short 13th make use of some natural drama. All involved some carry over the sandy heathland. As the greens are large enough to permit multiple pin permutations and you find yourself poised over your bag in between two or even three club decisions."

In April 2018, Paul Rudovsky, one of our most respected globe-trotting contributors, revisited the East course after being too long away:

"I first came to Melbourne in February 1977 and played Royal Melbourne’s West and East courses (as well as the Composite Course) on that trip. I have been back to Australia at least twice since and played RMGC’s West course at least three more times, but had not replayed the East. I clearly remembered holes 1-3 and 17-18, but to be honest not much about holes 4-15 (except remembering that it was almost as good as the West). So this time I decided that it was time to revisit the East and was very glad I did. It is an outstanding course and its only fault is that it sits in the shadow of RMGC’s West (which a good number of knowledgeable observers consider to be the finest in the world)."

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Alex Russell

Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell had similar backgrounds. Both were Cambridge men who served in the British Army during WWI where they realized the importance of camouflage in combat.

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