St Andrews 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 at St Andrews Beach.
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 St Andrews Beach 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 yet happened.
St Andrews 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 amazing Barnbougle Dunes was his first Aussie essay but St Andrews Beach is every bit as good. 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, St Andrews 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 St Andrews 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.
A very fine course and now the third of Doak's courses that I have played. As with the other courses on the Mornington Peninsula it is was built on land was made for golf, though this may be one of the more undulating pieces of property and is certainly a stern walk. There are many fine holes here though I'll admit i would rank it a distant third behind Barnbougle and Cape Kidnappers, Some the greens were surprisingly small and flat which I didn't really think was in keeping with the land or the rest of the course. I also expected more strategy to some of the par 4s and the first hole didn't suit my eye at all. In saying that we are still dealing with a probable 7 on the architects own scale so I am maybe being a bit harsh based on how impressed I was over his other work.
I'd agree with this review. It's a good Doak minimalist course but not his best. I played here last April and the condition left a lot to be desired for a course so high in the national rankings. The bunkers were in a terrible state and the green surrounds had not recovered after recent coring which left the ground game a lottery. That said I liked the course but it's a tough walk despite relatively short distances between green and tee. Wasn't overly impressed with the 7th and 8th which shared the same fairway with an obscured bunker/waste area in the middle.