The Vines Resort & Country Club is situated in Swan Valley, the oldest wine growing region in Western Australia, and boasts a 103-bed hotel, 54 apartments, racquet sport facility and swimming pool in addition to the Lakes and the Ellenbrook, its two championship golf courses.
Graham Marsh and Ross Watson designed both layouts in the late 1980s and a composite of both was used when the Heineken Classic was hosted here from 1993 to 2001. The Lakes course was stretched to over 7,000 yards when the Johnnie Walker Classic – won by Craig Stadler's son, Kevin – was played over its 18 holes in 2006. In 2009 the event returned to Swan Valley when New Zealand teenage amateur Danny Lee became the then youngest champion in European Tour history, at 18 years and 213 days old.
Located on the edge of the Darling Ranges, the Lakes course is gently undulating, with most holes lined by heavy scrub and brush. Kangaroos roam freely, providing plenty of photo opportunities for the TV cameras when they need to fill dead airtime during broadcasts from here!
There are several risk-and-reward holes on both the front and back nine which can be very costly if the wrong decision is made. Bunkers and grassy hollows can be deep and penal and water hazards are positioned to punish wayward shots so best to keep to the generous fairways or face up to dropping shots.
It's generally accepted that the holes on the inward half form a better collection of fairways than those on the front nine (presumably that's why they formed the back nine of the composite tournament course) with the quartet of strong par fours at the 11th, 14th, 5th and 17th requiring long, straight drives off the tee.
The 18th, a 517-yard par five, is a great closing hole, with water all the way up the left of the fairway and bunkers threatening the tee shot to the right of the landing area. There are a couple of ponds guarding the front of the putting surface then four greenside bunkers offering further protection to the pin. Most golfers will be delighted to walk off with a five on the card at the home hole.
It is chalk and cheese at the Vine when it comes to the Lake and Ellenbrook. The Lakes is an exceptional golf course (the Ellenbrook isn't). Perfectly manicured with large open fairways, the bunkers are well maintained (on the day I played they were being weeded) and the greens didn't have a pug mark in them. The course stands out as one of the best in WA.
Each hole is so picturesque, wonderful vistas abound and every now and then a qantas or virgin flight on final approach to Perth flies overhead. A course guide is really useful to know where the water and other hazards are. The bush is thick and that makes is extremely difficult to find any wayward balls, though you might come out with more balls than when you went in.
In my experience the greens were extremely fast, even uphill, gentle precise putting was the way to go. The final run of three holes must be the signature to the course and all three have lakes involved. first the par three 16th, water to your right and bunkers crowd the large green. Then comes the par four 17th, this time water on your left a large fairway to aim for and those with a massive drive can put it over the water and leave a wedge in. You finish with the par five 18th with its split fairway, three lakes, on your left, right and up the middle defending the green, plenty of bunkers and an abundance of well placed grass trees.
This is one of my favourite golf courses in WA and the Lakes is what makes a visit to the Vines very much worth it!
The Vines Resort & Country Club is a golfing complex just 30 minutes from Perth’s CBD. Originally designers Ross Watson & Graham Marsh initially designed 27 holes (3 loops of nine) which opened in 1989. In 1997 they returned to add a further nine holes, so the complex was home to two 18 hole courses, The Ellenbrook and The Lakes.
The Heineken Classic tournament was played at The Vines between 1993 and 2001 utilising a composite course. In its heyday in the 90’s The Vines was one of the top championship courses in the country, and a wonderfully conditioned golfing experience.
In recent years the conditioning of the courses has dropped off, and whilst they are still eminently playable there is poa in the greens, and kikuyu creeping into the fairways and green surrounds.
The rolling landscape is well suited to golf, and the setting is 'pure Aussie' with gum trees, blackboys, and kangaroos everywhere.
The Vines has great golfing bones, and is a nice place to play golf. Properly maintained it could again be a great place to play golf and should be included in any golfing itineraries planned for Western Australia.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
The Vines is a great venue tucked away in the wine region known as Swan Valley really ticks off all 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.
As with the Ellenbrook course the Lakes course has an abundance of kangaroos grazing on the beautiful fairway edge grass, natural Western Australian bushland surrounds these 2 courses, housing also does in parts as well.
The courses are both fairly open off the tee with plenty of fairway bunkers to negate along the peaceful journey. Huge green complexes are an easy target for all types of golfer here, but that doesn't mean easy pin positions will be on show, gentle undulating fairways meander their way through a well routed layout.
Water comes in to play on The lakes course and the final few holes can wreck scorecards, avoid at all costs ! Great views on the mighty Swan Valley wine region can seen here on many holes.