The well-planned course at Warrnambool Golf Club was laid out behind a tertiary dune system, in 1926, to a classic design by George Lowe Jr., son of the unheralded architect cum professional cum greenkeeper George Lowe, who originally laid out Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham & St Annes in England's northwest.
Not overly long at 5,750 metres, 35 out and 37 home, for a par of 72. The layout features several spectacular elevated tee blocks and reasonably generous, well grassed, ti-tree lined fairways. The trio of holes, 4,5, and 6, are as good as golf gets in this part of the world.
Constructed on a coastal sandy base, the course remains readily playable throughout the winter months. The greens are fast and true and the bunkering a genuine test of your prowess with the sand wedge.
The influence of the ever present fluky coastal sea-breeze cannot be understated and really adds to the challenge of a course which may play variously from one nine to the next and one round to another. Testing and yet enjoyable for players of all skill levels and invariably, all that play up to the 18th green at Warrnambool, are saddened that the round is at a close.
Warrnambool Golf Club is located on rolling sandy terrain on The Shipwreck Coast not far from the heart of the busy regional town of Warrnambool.
Up to seven hundred sailing ships were thought to have foundered on this coast line! These days a stiff sea breeze is more likely to play havoc with golfer's scorecards..
At 5750 metres Warrnambool is definitely not long but the constant elevation change and ever present wind keeps golfer's honest.
The golfing journey at Warrnambool covers a number of parkland type holes either end of the round- as well as some classic links holes in the dunes. You never know what is around the next corner! Personally I prefer the links holes, but did appreciate the variation the parkland holes offer.
Warrnambool is also the old stamping ground of PGA touring professional Marc Leishman who grew up adjacent to the course and honed his legendary game there.
Notable holes include:
Holes 4, 5 & 6 are known as Shipwreck Bend after the many ships that went down in this stretch of coast:
- hole 4 is a short dogleg par 4 with the elevated green also protected by a large dune on the inside of the dogleg.
- hole 5 is perhaps the best hole on the course. It's a straightaway longish par 4 through a chute of ti tree. You need to be accurate! And the elevated tee offers glorious sea views.
- hole 6 completes the triangle with a short uphill dogleg to a tight well protected green
- hole 8 is a short downhill par 4 that can be driven in the right conditions- but don't miss because the the tight fairway has bunkers left and right and the shrubbery framing the fairway eats golf balls!
- hole 10 is a monster par 5 into the wind and toward the coast
- hole 13 (Plateau) is a memorable short par 3- there is 20 metres of elevation change upward from tee to green and the green is wickedly quick from above the hole
- hole 14 is a longer dogleg par 4 requiring two strong shots to get home to a slightly domed and elevated green. Par here is a good effort!
Warrnambool is lovely place to play golf and hang out. Any visitor to the area should combine a game here with a game at Port Fairy.
It is a pretty handy combination and a recurring destination for knowledgeable Travelling Golfers
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Warrnambool is a very under-rated course. It has arguably the best string of short or shortish par four holes from the third to the eight inclusive. The conditioning in early November 2019 was first class.
Aside from the glorious par fours, it has a very demanding par five tenth, over 500m uphill and into the wind. There are two steep uphill par threes, where the challenge is the picking of the correct club.
There are many elevation changes among the huge dunes. With the wind frequently providing difficulties, it is a layout better or far better than many of the courses listed well above it, including its near neighbour, Port Fairy.
I disagree strongly with Scarlett who suggested some holes blend in with others.
The annual Shipwreck Coast tw-day event in November is an excellent reason to visit.
This is a country town golf course of high quality that has part parkland feel but also some elements of linksland being quite close to the ocean and on old dunes. I played as a visitor in a stableford comp with interesting and welcoming members: the club notes itself as being a 'friendly club' and I'd have to agree. Only critisism might be that the holes can blend in to one another with the similar coastal vegetation surrounding many fairways. However, plenty of interesting holes giving risk/reward opportunities too. Being a more rural course it was certainly good value.
And if in the area, definitely head further along the coast to Port Fairy and play the classic links course there: whilst Warrnambool is good, Port Fairy is brilliant.