With 45 holes in play, it’s reckoned that Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort is Australia’s biggest public access golf facility. Located 285 kilometres north of Melbourne on the banks of the mighty Murray River, the club offers two 18-hole layouts, the Murray and Lake, along with a 9-hole executive course.
The game of golf in the twin towns of Yarrawonga in Victoria and Mulwala in New South Wales dates as far back as 1886 to a 3-hole course in the centre of Yarrawonga. Formed in 1897, Yarrawonga Golf Club was situated at the local racetrack before crossing the state border to a new site on a dairy farm outside Mulwala in 1923.
An initial 9-hole layout was extended to eighteen holes in 1940 then another 100 acres became available in 1953, allowing the club to plan for a new 27-hole complex. Vern Morcom was called in to plan a revised layout but the commission eventually went to Sam Berriman, the curator at Huntingdale.
The new course opened for play on 26 June 1959. Twenty years later, plans for a third nine, designed by Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge, were accepted and the new Gold nine opened on 12 July 1981, with the Berriman course becoming the Blue and Red nines.
More land was acquired to the west of the property, allowing the construction of the Murray course, which Thomson and Wolveridge produced, with the first tee shots struck on 29 November 1986. The Blue nine lost three of its holes to the Murray and the remaining six holes were modified to become the short executive nine, with the Red and Gold nines forming the Lake course.
Yarrawonga & Border Golf Club – as the club had been renamed – was retitled again as Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort in 2011.
Routed in an out-and-back style, the Murray course reaches the river at the kidney-shaped 4th green, before the par five 5th then runs alongside its flowing waters. Interestingly, the par threes at the 8th and 10th both feature two teeing options that alter the holes significantly.
The back nine is much the same as the front, with winding fairways and gum trees a constant presence and the par fives and par threes among the standout holes.
Before I start, I am bias, I grew up going on holidays to Yarrawonga and following my Pop around this course as he chased after a white ball. This course is a big reason why I love playing golf now. As of late when I have been here, its as pure as its been for as long as I can remember and I think this courses layout, design and quality is better than the higher rated Black Bull (see Victoria) but it is tight between the 2 courses.
Yarrawonga-Mulwala is the biggest golf expanse is AUS with 45 holes making up the Murray, Lakes & the Executive 9 hole courses. All are more than worth the hit. The club house is beautifully old world country Australia but the facility itself is top notch with chipping and putting area's to get a warm up. If you need a meal after your round then go inside to the massive club and its bar and restaurant. This is a serious golfing complex.
The first 5 holes are an amazing way to start as you make your way towards the river with the 5th hole being the marquee hole. The par 5 that runs along the mighty Murray River on the left but he wide fairway somewhat indents to the right from the high eroded banks of the river. Nearing green a lone gum tree stands guard, hit this on the wrong side of the tree and your ball could take a swim in the river. This is a truly beautiful hole.
From the 6th hole onwards the course cuts inland through the natural bush. Kangaroo's jump under the tall trees, Cocky's dot the tree lined fairways and water, after the river anyway, does't feature as much unless the creeks have had rainfall.
The bunkering is always top notch with good amounts of sand in the well placed and tactical bunkers, but there aren't so many that you are trying to avoid them all over the course. The greens and fairways are top quality as well with the staff doing a great job of maintaining the high standard daily. The rough is interesting as the fairways for the most part are wide and once you veer off them you are pretty much in the scrub or on a thin patch of rough at most so staying on track this the best method to get around this course.
The course is flat for the most part but in summer, give or take a few rises and falls but take a cart, it gets hugely hot here especially in summer when its regularly over 35 degrees. The course also doesn't comeback to the clubhouse after 9 holes so plenty of fluid is needed if you don't see the drinks cart driving around along with your sunscreen.
I honestly can't speak highly enough of this course. If I take my rose coloured glasses off and look at this course through a purely golf lens, this track stacks up to some of the best public courses in the country and the best on the Murray. Priced anywhere between $45 to $75 (day and time of year dependent) the value for money is almost unbeatable. The best on the Murray is found here Ladies and Gentleman. If you come to the border, this is a must play.