The original Sandringham public course was located northwest of the present-day layout, purchased by Sandringham City Council in 1932. The property contained four of the holes that were on the Royal Melbourne course before the club relocated to Black Rock, which is probably why some folk seem to think a portion of the current Sandringham layout was once a part of Royal Melbourne next door.
Sandringham Golf Club was formed in 1937 but the council didn’t buy the land for the current course until the start of the 1940s. The back nine was built to a Vern Morcom design in 1946 before a triangle of three holes was added in 1951 to create a 12-hole layout. A few years later, a full eighteen holes were brought into play after more Morcom modifications were made.
In the book The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom author Toby Cumming writes:
“After decades of minimal change to Morcom’s routing, May 2019 saw the beginning of a major redevelopment, funded by the Victorian Government. The 1st and 9th holes will give way to make space for a new high-performance training and administration facility, and the rest will be shaped into a shorter 18-hole course (expected completion late 2020).
Not all the Morcom holes will be lost – the old 4th, 5th, 10th , 11th , 12th , 13th, 15th and 18th are set to survive as the new 10th , 17th , 9th , 4th 5th 11th 14th and 18th, respectively. Other existing greens (today’s 3rd, 14th and 17th) will be retained as part of new holes.”
Rebranded as Sandy Golf Links, Sandringham Golf Course is owned by Bayside City Council and leased and operated by Sandringham Golf Links Management. Its extensive makeover was carried out by OCM, the design company that comprises Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Cocking and Ashley Mead.
The firm worked closely on the project with Royal Melbourne’s course superintendent Richard Forsyth, even using the same grasses (‘Sutton’s Mix’ bentgrass on greens and fescue for surrounds) the club converted to in 2005. The new par 65 layout has two sets of tees, both measuring less than 5,000 metres in total.
When the development that Toby Cumming mentioned is completed, the new Australian Golf Centre will become the headquarters for Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and Golf Victoria. The facility will also house a public 30-bay driving range, café and National High Performance Centre, all located on the one campus.
In January 2021, Mike Cocking told us that Toby is correct in saying that a number of corridors are the same, but all the green complexes and associated bunkers were reworked. Mike said: “A good example comes at the 5th and 10th holes where we ended up creating a double green in a similar style to 8 and 16 at Kingston Heath.”
Arguably one of the greatest parcels of land for golf in Australia, right on the Sandbelt and neighbouring RMGC, the new Sandy Golf Links (once known as Sandringham Golf Course) has had a complete make-over. The architectural genius of OCM in-conjunction with RMGC, has made the new course almost unrecognisable from its previous state (pre-2020 redevelopment).
While shorter par 65, lacking any par 5's, the new course is trying to be a completely different take on golf. Out go the terms 'mens' and 'ladies' tees, replaced by simply a 'short' and a 'long' course, denoted by the colours orange and purple.
The new bunkering throughout is superb, with outstanding bunkering on the 2nd, 12th, 14th, and 16th worthy of any fellow Sandbelt course. While there were a few holes I would happily skip, these holes were leftover and mostly unchanged from the original design; 5 (previously 12) and 18 (an extended version of the previous hole 3), these holes, with time and some slight modifications, will blend right into the new course.
At ~$45 a round, indeed, this course will be viewed as the best value golf on the Sandbelt, if not Australia (watch out port fairy links). For those of us that can't access Royal Melbourne, go across the road, and experience the next best thing, and maybe even the future of golf!