There is no water on the course, and the majestic MacKenzie bunkering dominates, framing fairways, and defining the green complexes.
During his visit in 1926 MacKenzie also visited a number of other courses in Melbourne (Kingston Heath, Victoria...), and his bunkering on these courses evolved into an instantly recognisable Melbourne Sandbelt style.
There are no weak holes on The West Course, but some that I regard as 'all world' holes.
The fourth hole is a short par 5 with a scary blind tee shot over a rise with deep yawning bunkers set into the face of the dune. A successful tee shot will open up the possibility of reaching the green in two- but bunkers and bracken await the mishit shot. The large green is well contoured and it may well be that one should consider leaving an approach under the hole.
The par 3 fifth hole is one of the most picturesque on the course. The mid iron tee shot must carry over a deep gully in front of the two tiered and sharply contoured green. The green is framed by deep bunkering on both sides. From the tee a player may well sigh a breath of relief if he successfully avoids the gully short, and bunkers left and right, and makes it to the top tier. But any shot a little long can be penalised with a downhill putt or chip that will be hard to stop.
Hole six is a longer par four, left to right dogleg. The longer hitter can easily carry the bracken on the inside of the dogleg and set up a short iron approach, but he must be careful not to over hit and run through the fairway. Depending on the wind and tee of the day many will be capable of taking the shortcut and many will fail- losing a ball in the bracken, or being blocked out by the trees right. The conservative tee shot left will leave a golfer with a long shot in to a raised green with significant back to front camber, and those trademark bunkers in front. This really is a classic hole!
Hole seven is a short iron uphill par 3 to a heavily bunkered, heavily contoured green. The green is partially blind from the tee below, and the hole is exposed to the wind making it a challenge to select the correct club, as well as intended line and flight. The bunker short right dominates the view from the tee encouraging the unwary to stray left and long. But with a bunker at the back, and a steep back to front tilt to the green, there is no easy way to par this hole.
Hole 10 is a driveable short par 4 hole. These days the longest hitters can take on the green with a 3 wood, but to do so they must carry over all types of nasty vegetation and then the biggest bunker on the course, in search of a tiny green protected by steep drop offs and more bunkering at the rear. Played as a long iron or rescue off the tee, hole 10 can be then approached with a wedge or short iron from a much more friendly angle. But that approach does need to be reasonably accurate given the size and firmness of the green. It is an exciting hole no matter which way you play it.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Date: May 29, 2019