Sitting north east of Perth in Western Australia, the Vines Resort is home to two of the best resort courses in the country. Three 9-hole circuits were constructed between 1987 and 1989 by Graham Marsh and Ross Watson before Marsh added an additional nine in 1997 to form the 18-hole Lakes and Ellenbrook layouts.
The fourth loop at Vines now make up holes 3 to 11 of today’s Ellenbrook course and they blend seamlessly into the initial configuration – even though there’s a higher density of housing adjacent to the more modern fairways – with water coming into play at a handful of the new holes.
Greens here are large, averaging around 700 square metres, which might be expected of a resort course intent on offering as many different pin positions as possible. Then again, hitting the green at Vines is one thing, getting it into the hole is another altogether.The Heineken Classic tournament was held at Vines between 1993 and 2001 (played over a composite course during the last few years of its tenure) but it moved onto Royal Melbourne for four years in 2002 before dropping off the professional circuit due to lack of sponsorship.
Disappointment abounds on the Ellenbrook, some of the worst greens and tee-boxes in WA. A course that has so much potential is consistently let down by the fact all the money at the resort is spent on the Lakes.
A looping 18 holes that has a nice cafe at half time, this course needs some attention. The greens are large and undulating but are in terrible condition, they are, slow, furry and full of pug marks. This course suffers from the foot traffic that just doesn't care about keeping it in good condition.
The day we played the fairways looked nice but had no roll in dry and hot conditions. It is sad that this course sits next to one of the best in WA. If you are at the Vines play the Lakes as the Ellenbrook just isn't worth the money.
Great venue tucked away in the wine region known as Swan Valley really ticks off the boxes. Great location for families to head out to, about a 45 minute drive from the Perth CBD. Both courses were in good condition when I played but as most courses / venues would contest to upgrades could always make things better. The Vines was home to the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia from 1992 - 2009 and it's easy to why the Pro's who included Tiger and the Shark themselves, enjoyed the composite course mainly made up of the "Lakes course" holes.
I enjoyed the freedom that Ellenbrook provides off the tee, not because I'm a 16 handicapper, but for the strategy then for 2nd and 3rd shots in to the green complexes that are equally as large as their sister course.
The Par 3 5th I could play over and over again, visually and design wise it's very good, though surrounded by trees and playing downhill, the wind can cause all sorts of drama which makes for great memorability !
The 6th green is very undulating and with so much space bogey plus could be your score, undulating green with plenty of well groomed bunkers lurking for the errant shot.
These two holes, plus the next at the Par 4 7th, and delightful Par 3 8th make for a wonderful run of holes with water in play on the 7th and 8th.
Water isn't too evident on the Ellenbrook course but it can ensure the golfer is thinking how best to avoid it.
Scoring well on the massive 230m (from the tips) Par 3 13th can certainly be a case of unlucky thirteen, hitting driver at a Par 3 = ouch.
Then run home afterwards doesn't get any easier back to back Par 4's, a tough little Par 3 17th and the uphill dogleg Par 5 18th to round off the day is fairly brutal.
Two courses, two choices and a multitude of ways to play many holes. Any trip to The Vines is an opportunity to experience a remarkable golf course in a setting that’s tough to top.