The West course at Royal Melbourne Golf Club is generally acknowledged as the best course in Australia and the finest design of Dr Alister MacKenzie despite the fact that he never saw it in its completed form and never referred to it in his published writings. Born of that productive two months in 1926 when Royal Melbourne had commissioned the Doctor on the advice of the R&A, it was completed in 1931.
The club that has for more than 70 years nurtured their gift from MacKenzie and Morcom, was in fact formed 35 years before his visit. In May 1891 The Melbourne Golf Club cabled the Royal Eastbourne Club in England for 30 sets of clubs with which to equip their founder members. By 1895 the club received the Royal appendage and the heaths of Sandringham were selected for the club’s new site on 1898 with play commencing in July 1901. Royal Melbourne therefore became the first golf club in what has come to be known as Melbourne’s Sandbelt. Precisely which courses constitute membership of the Sandbelt clubs is traditionally a matter of debate but the core consists of seven: Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Commonwealth, Victoria, Yarra Yarra and Huntingdale.
Royal Melbourne’s West course stands as the apotheosis of the Sandbelt. It was of those courses that Tom Doak was thinking about when he wrote: “If only Melbourne were not so far removed from America, the standard of American golf architecture might well be higher. Were both countries closer, however, it is just as likely that America would have dragged Australian standards down to its level.”
The above passage is a brief edited extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
July 09, 2013