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.
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.