Part of a huge residential development of nearly 500 homes built by Medallist Developments and Stevens Group, The Vintage course is one of five Australian courses run by the American company, Troon Golf Management.
The course at Vintage Golf Club borders the Beggars Bridge and Bimbadgen vineyards in the fertile Hunter Valley, near Cessnock and opened in 2003. Measuring 6,940 yards, with a par of 71, this Greg Norman designed course is laid out over gently undulating countryside, incorporating all manner of natural features including ravines, creeks, ridges and wetlands.
The front nine play clockwise away from the clubhouse, made up of half a dozen strong par fours, a couple of interesting par threes and a demanding par five – the 565-yard 7th hole where vineyards and out of bounds run all the way down the left of the fairway. The tee shot has a large expanse of bush to carry uphill to the fairway then from the landing area at the top of the hill, the fairway runs downhill before rising again to a green perched on a ridge.
The back nine play anti-clockwise, completing the routing of a figure of eight. Starting with the mammoth 618-yard, par five, 10th hole – which plays to a green on the top of a small cliff at the far end of a lake – and concluding with the 411-yard, par four 18th hole – played to an undulating, heavily protected, raised green, these holes will test how well you can play to your handicap.
Played the Vintage today as part of an ongoing quest to knock off most of the top 100 Oz golf courses (70+ and counting). This is a fairly standard Norman course - if you've played others this will be pretty familiar. It's a solid design with a few quirks - too many doglegging short par 4's on the front, a very forgettable short par 3 (11th) on the back. you'd be happy to be one of the 400 members here, except for the condition of the course, which was surprisingly poor. It feels like it gets lots of play from people who dont really care - lots of bunkers not raked, lots of unfixed plug marks, lots of divots. that would drive most members nuts and rightly so. This one fits in the bottom half of my personal ratings. I cant put it in the 40's. Having said that, it's a very pleasant place to play and a pretty decent day out in a nice part of the world.
The Vintage (opened 2003) is the most highly rated course in the picturesque Hunter Valley. Set amongst the regions vineyards, the course is challenging but playable and offers a variety settings for golfers of all abilities.
The Norman/ Harrison design starts with four tree lined par 4's where precision of the tee is paramount. My favourite was the short dogleg 2nd that requires an exacting tee shot followed by a short approach to a narrow well protected green. The course then snakes through some more undulating holes with the pick being the Par 5 7th which runs parallel to the Bimbadgen Estate vineyard.
The back 9 is more open and has more water in play. My favourite holes on this side were the two par 3's - 12 and 17 (where more than one ball met a watery grave).
The Norman bunkering is a feature of the course although on my last visit they were poorly presented with grass growing into the faces.
The Vintage is a destination course with excellent accommodation (Chateau Elan), the nearby Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club (which exceeded my expectations) and wide selection of vineyards and restaurants to choose from.
The course regularly lands around 50th spot in most of Australia's top 100 course rankings and I think this is pretty much on the money depending on the course conditioning.
The Hunter is a great three day getaway and The Vintage should be your number 1 stop.
In the Hunter Valley, 3 hours from Sydney, The Vintage is a Greg Norman design set in the Northern wine regions of NSW. There is lots of water here, and the bunkers are filled with white sand. It is a pretty part of the world, and there are some interesting golf holes. The 1st and 2nd are a good start, a short 4 with water short of the green followed by a longer par 4 which doglegs right, and a green sloping back to front. The 7th could well be the signature hole, a par 5 played adjacent to a vineyard. There’s a lot more water in play on the back, and the two finishing holes are a well bunkered par 3 and a strong par 4 played back towards the clubhouse. It would be a long walk round here, and so buggies are normally used.
The Vintage ranks inside the main Top 100 and the public listing. Nestled in the heart of the world renowned Hunter Valley Wine Region the course is surrounded by Beggars Bridge and Bimbadgen Vineyards.
This is another bold and beautiful course by Greg Norman and his team that feature his traditional and now signature bunkering, some times this bunkering designs gets boring as it's very repetitive throughout Australia. Natural waterways make this course as well as the vineyards running parallel to the fairways!
Many native plants and wildlife find their home at the Vintage.
Overall it's a great layout and should be played on venture to the Hunter!
Then go get the wine and produce!
The Vintage is the best course accessible to the general public in the Hunter Valley of NSW. A Greg Norman & Bob Harrison design it has a lot of their usual features: bold bunkering, use of natural features and a strong variety and collection of holes.
There are plenty of elevation changes throughout the layout with the F9 being the tighter of the two. The B9 at The Vintage is more open and has a wetlands feel to it.
The 7th is a P5 is flanked by a vineyard on the left hand side the full length of the hole. The 8th is a strong P3 across water with numerous tees to choose from to suit your ability.
There is plenty of water on the B9 at The Vintage with the uphill slight dogleg right P4 18th the only hole without a lateral or water hazard on it.
Chateau Elan at the resort has different accommodation types including hotel rooms and villas overlooking the course and vineyards.
I can recommend a game at The Vintage when in the famous wine district of the Hunter Valley.