The Spring Valley Golf Club was established in 1948 with thirty-three founding members, many of them from the Forest Hills club in nearby Dandenlong. It took almost three years to clear the scrub from the site chosen for the new course and it opened for play in 1951. Although the routing has remained intact for over half a century, Mike Clayton has modified all greens, tees and bunkers in recent times.
Situated in the centre of the Melbourne sandbelt, Spring Valley doesn’t quite have the same rolling topography of other, higher ranked courses in the area but it’s a fine layout nonetheless, demanding careful course management to score well.
Designed by Vern Morcom, son of Mick (the head greenkeeper at Royal Melbourne for thirty years) who constructed much of Alister MacKenzie’s work in Victoria’s state capital, Spring Valley is a traditional sandbelt course where the game plan consists of accuracy off the tee and precision of the approach to greens.
A modern clubhouse sits on ground slightly above the rest of the course, allowing for a gentle downhill opening hole and a testing, uphill, closing hole, played to a raised green. Tree-lined fairways and firm putting surfaces are impressively bunkered throughout and water even makes a mark on proceedings at the par four 13th hole.
I think a good way to describe Spring Valley is a 'hidden gem' in the sand belt. Played here in December and again in January and both times have come away with a sense of achievement for taming a difficult, well-designed course. Lush fairways, fast greens and perfectly placed bunkers combine to challenge all levels of golfer.
The little par three 10th is entertaining and the bunkers seem to attract any wayward ball. The par four 16th is a great risk reward hole, you can attempt to carry the bunkers a leave a short iron in, but anything left or right will be punished.
A consistently underrated member of the much vaunted Sandbelt group of courses in Melbourne, what Spring Valley lacks in the topography department compared to say, Royal Melbourne or Victoria, it makes up for in spades with a seamless routing and flow from tee to green to tee again, superb year-round conditioning, and enough strategic difficulty to make repeated play a joyful romp. The excellence of the routing is complimented by bent grass greens that are pure and true. The experience is topped off with a couple of one- and two-shotters that are real joys - the short 10th, the long 14th and the brilliant 2nd all spring (pardon the pun) to mind. If you visit Melbourne, you must of course play the tier-one courses - RMGC, Kingston Heath, Victoria and Metropolitan. If your itinerary allows for one or two from the second-tier, make sure this one is at the top of that list.
Spring Valley is located in the famous Sandbelt region of Melbourne. I categorise it as one of the best “Tier II” courses of that area ie: it is not in the class of Royal Melbourne or Kingston Heath but is still a strong course all the same.
Originally designed by Vern Morcom it has undergone a big makeover and significant upgrade by the OCCM golf course design group. Mike Clayton and his team have over the years altered virtually all of the tees, greens and bunkers. Their tinkering has improved the overall quality of the course even though they left the original routing as such.
Spring Valley isn’t blessed with undulating topography but make the most of what changes there are much like Kingston Heath.
My favourite hole is the short P3 10th which requires an accurate tee shot as the green is surrounded by large and deep bunkers.
The layout is quite tight in places but the quality of the design is impressive. At only 6,200m long Spring Valley will really test your driving accuracy and iron play.
Often overlooked in the past due to the tip that was located nearby - that should not be the case anymore as it has been closed and will be replaced by a reserve.
I thoroughly recommend a game at Spring Valley for those that venture to that area of Melbourne and believe you will not be disappointed.