To the southwest of Melbourne lies the Bellarine Peninsula, the counterpart to the Mornington Peninsula opposite. At their extremities the two are separated by a stretch of water that can be crossed by ferry in 40 minutes. Although the golfing lands are not as rich on this peninsula, their value has been increased with the completion of two relatively new courses just outside the town of Barwon Heads.
The Beach course at Thirteenth Beach is as accomplished an offering as Tony Cashmore’s previous work at The Dunes, across the water near Portsea. Thirteenth Beach has in its favour a closer relationship to the sea by virtue of a 3km stretch of land adjacent to the dunes, though these dunes separate the golfer from the beach itself and any views of Bass Strait. While the land at the Dunes is sand based, the sea has receded somewhat further, giving way to farmland. Both courses are open to the public and come strongly recommended for the touring golfer.
As with other courses on the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, it’s a fair bet that most rounds of golf will involve some leaning into the prevailing winds of the day.
It is not easy designing and building public access courses that keep the attention of the local club champion but that can still entertain without demoralising the weekend out-of-state visitor. The economics of the business require a consistent circulation of happy swishers. Tony Cashmore has achieved this on a course that you will want to play several times.
The above passage is a brief edited extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
The Vic Open has been the flagship tournament in men’s golf in the state of Victoria since 1957 when the inaugural event was staged at Riversdale Golf Club. The equivalent Victorian Women’s event was first played in 1988 but soon faltered and disappeared from the ladies’ calendar until 2012 when Golf Victoria innovatively decided to promote both male and female professional golf at one inclusive tournament. The 2012 championship was simultaneously staged for men and women at Spring Valley and Woodlands and was a roaring success.
In 2013, the ISPS Handa Vic Open moved to 13th Beach
Golf Links where its success on both the Beach and Creek courses continued to
gather momentum. In 2019 the men’s tournament was co-sanctioned by the European
Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, while the women’s event
co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the ALPGA Tour. Despite there being a separate
championship for men and women, there’s equal prize money on offer and all four
rounds are played in alternating men’s and women’s tee times. The event is a
breath of fresh air.
The first four holes on the Beach course take the golfer away from the clubhouse in a loop of sorts across fairly benign land before retuning to the clubhouse again and heading off to the better dune based area of the course for most of the remaining 14 holes.
The short holes here are certainly a standout, the downhill 7th and 12th before later playing the uphill and into any sort of wind at the 16th.
I found the Beach course in excellent condition, greens were running true and bunkers were well presented, this is due to the recently played Victorian Open that the course was looking so sharp.