- Address209 Sandy Rd, Fingal VIC 3941, Australia
StAndrews Beach Golf Club is one of the most forward thinking facilities in Australia and many other golf clubs from around the world could do themselves a real favour and take a close look at what’s happening here.
First of all, the club has both eyes on the environment with their re-vegetation plan and general ecological awareness. Secondly, they commissioned the artistic architect Tom Doak and former European Tour player turned golf course designer Mike Clayton to fashion the course in harmony with kindly Nature and to route it across 175-hectares of former grazing land of the Mornington Peninsula. Thirdly they ran an innovative monthly trial membership scheme where prospective members could enjoy unlimited access for a reasonable sum before committing too many well-earned dollars. Fourthly, they have created one of the most enjoyable but eminently playable courses in Australia.
There was a plan to build another course, called Fingal, which was due to open in 2008, but this did not happen. There is nothing unusual about a second course but they asked Tom Doak to create a coherent and stronger composite course, made up from nine holes from the existing course known as Gunnamatta and nine holes from the new Fingal layout. It was a great idea but it hasn't happened.
StAndrews Beach was Tom Doak’s first Australian mainland ensemble and it opened for play in 2004 to a considerably loud fanfare of trumpets. Most golf course aficionados will know that Doak’s Barnbougle Dunes was his first Aussie essay, StAndrews Beach may not be up to his Tasmanian creation, but it's a course that has a bit of everything, a veritable potpourri of captivating holes, some framed by swathes of Mornington Tea-Tree and Moonah and others pitching and rolling across classic links-like land.
Writing in Tom Doak's Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture, Tom commented as follows: "My goal is to have as many holes as possible where we don't change the contouring of the fairway and rough. On most of our courses that is between 12 and 15 holes out of 18. St Andrews Beach was 16 or 17 out of 18; only the 15th fairway and a small portion of the 13th were altered."
Measuring a little more than 6,000 metres, StAndrews Beach is not the longest course in Australia, but with a lowly par of 70 and with some of the trickiest greens in the land, shooting a great score is easier said than done. Big hitters can open their shoulders and find the wide StAndrews Beach fairways more often than not. Thankfully, the rough is kept in check, so losing too many balls should not be on the agenda. This course will keep both the scratch golfer and the high handicapper happy.
With a number of teasing short par fours, the brutal 13th – Australia’s longest par four – and the impossible 16th – the longest par three in the land, there’s no chance of becoming bored. Throw in some wonderfully varied, compact green sites, proclaimed by Tom Doak as his best ever and you have a golfing cocktail of sheer fun.
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Tom Doak studied Landscape Architecture at Cornell University where he won a scholarship to travel to the British Isles, he then spent seven months on the road, literally living on the links.