The Sanctuary Lakes Resort is situated in the Point Cook district of Melbourne and it’s a grand scale residential golf project set out on property that was formerly used to produce salt commercially. The site extends to over 2,000 acres and half of that area – Cheetham Wetlands – is now designated as a nature sanctuary with the remaining land used for the golf and housing development.
Constructed on a desolate tract of derelict land that many considered too problematic to develop, the links-like fairways at Sanctuary lakes extend to 150 acres and they were first used by the membership in 2000. Greg Norman and his lead architect Bob Harrison designed the course and their layout required the movement of more than a little earth to fashion 18 holes of interest on such a nondescript landscape.
As the Great White Shark says, “Sanctuary Lakes was situated on a salt mine on a dead flat piece of land. We had to convert the salt mine into a golf course and residential development so we came up with an ingenious way of building nine holes outside the mine and the other nine along the saltwater marsh. As the members play the course, they are treated to a dramatic change in the environment.”
Many golfers rate the two par threes on the front nine very highly with both short holes played to water-protected greens. On the back nine, two par fours stand out. The 13th is a tough hole that fully warrants a stoke index rating of 2 and the 445-yard 18th – while lacking fairway bunkers – has its island green virtually encircled by sand. Unsurprisingly, a score of five here will feel like a par.
Sanctuary Lakes is a championship, members course set on a sandy links-style layout a half hour south of the CBD and close to Port Philip Bay. There are pure greens and bold bunkering that suggests the lines of play, but doesn't dictate the shots. There are also enough other hazards and variations in width on the fairways, especially in the approach zones, to create a very interesting round.
I played in summer and the course had browned off in the heat, meaning there was plenty of run in the fairways, but conditioning was still excellent.
There's also a good mix of shorter and longer holes which meant all clubs in the bag were required. As an example, the par 4 15th is only just over 300m but well bunkered around the green offering interesting risk/reward options. That's followed immediately by the par 5 16th, which has water and reeds all down the left side and the green is offset left over water and hard up against it on three sides. That 16th starts a tough finishing trio of holes which requires concentration right to the end.
It's excellent value for quality golf and could well be rated higher.
This course is really well designed, in flat terrain they have made the most of what is available to them to create an excellent link course that will test all levels of golfer.
The wind was blowing when we played, the course was in excellent condition and the greens were playing fast and true. Sanctuary Lakes is a test for all levels of golfer, don't be put off by the links design so close to the city, the course serves up good golf by the bucket load.
Each hole presents its challenge, nothing is easy on this course, the tricked up greens are reserved for the higher index holes, you might be on in two but that can all disappear as you three putt your points away.
The front nine is good but the course comes to life from the 10th hole on, the 10th is testing par 4 that requires accuracy and nerves of steel to walk away with a par. The wind will either give you 50m or take that away in a moment, mother nature is in control as you work your way round this course. The best is reserved for the end, as you tire and long for the post round beer the final three holes make this good course. A tricky par five where the water comes into play. A par three that can up to 200m into the wind then the zenith of the course a 380m par four with an island green.
Sanctuary Lakes is a good course and gives some of the best links courses on the Mornington Peninsular a run for their money. Great golf and a friendly welcome is what is on offer on this good track!