Victor Harbor Golf Club is located on the east coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, though the nearest point on the course to the shoreline (where the Inman River reaches Davenport Anchorage) is more than a kilometre away.
The club was founded by nine enthusiastic businessmen in 1911, with members playing on a 9-hole layout just south current of the current site. After just three years, the club moved to Mr. Connell’s private 9-hole course at Mount Bracken and it remained there for the next decade.
James Herd Scott was then engaged in 1924 to lay out a new 9-hole course back at Encounter Bay, with the first five holes mapping on to today’s 13th to 17th. The 6th was a shorter version of the current 18th, with the 7th played from a high tee to the present day 10th green. The 225-yard 8th was routed along the modern-day 11th and the 9th was a shorter version of the current 12th.
Additional land was acquired in the early 1930s, allowing the club to introduce another nine holes, and play began on this extended layout in 1934. Vern Morcom was called in to make minor modifications when a new clubhouse was built in 1960, building a new 1st tee and re-sequencing the holes.
Minor changes have occurred since, after additional land became available. Both the 15th and 16th holes were elongated in 1980 and the two par fours at holes 12 and 13 were stretched to par fives in 1988. Apart from that, the course that Vern Morcom worked on more than sixty years ago is the one that’s in play today.
A club claim to fame is that it’s where the “shotgun start” was introduced to Australia by one of its American-born members, Dick Ambrose in the 1960s. This klaxon-start format to begin a competition with the “bases loaded on every tee” is apparently now known as “an Ambrose” in many Australian clubs.
The 402-metre opening hole is reckoned to be the “signature hole” on the layout, its elevated tee positioned around 100 feet above the fairway, looking straight towards the town and the Great Australian Bight.
And just when you think you’ve seen it all on a golf course, after putting out on the home green at the 306-metre 18th, there’s an electric rope-pull installed to assist you making your way up the sloped path to the clubhouse!