The original 9-hole course belonging to the Croydon Golf Club opened in 1925 and Alex Russell expanded it to a full 18-hole layout seven years later. Having spent more than eighty years playing at their Dorset Road site, it must have been a wrench for members when they moved in 2008 to a brand new greenfield site six miles away at Yering in the Yarra Valley.
The upheaval was worth the effort though as within two years, a brand new clubhouse was in use and an 18-hole Ross Watson-designed course was in play on Croydon’s substantial new property, with a further 9 holes to follow soon after.
The course at the recently renamed Yering Meadows Golf Club (formerly Croydon Golf Club) is laid out at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges and this modern 27-hole development has totally transformed what was no more than a flood plain used for grazing cattle into a wonderful golf facility, complete with water features and wetland areas.
The three separate loops can be configured into three different 18-hole layouts, called Nursery, Homestead and Valley. Holes 1-18 comprise of the original Nursery course, which is regarded as the premier configuration at Yering Meadows.
Aaron Baddeley joined the club as a twelve-year-old in 1993 and won both the Junior and Club Championships two years later. He was made a Life Member in 2000, the year he became Australian Open champion for the second time.
Course architect Ross Watson kindly wrote the following article for Top 100:
The new course sits on an old dairy farm of around 130 hectares in size. The topography is approximately 50/50 floodplain and hills with very few features to work with. However, on the positive side the hillside on which the clubhouse sits faces due north looking up into the fabulous Yarra Valley, known for its great beauty and great wine.
The three nines are of similar length with the same par of 36. Holes 1 to 9 have been named “The Nursery” and they skirt around the edge of the commercial plant nursery in the south eastern corner. Holes 10 to 18 have been named “The Valley” as many of the holes enjoy lovely Yarra Valley views. Holes 19 to 27 have been named “The Homestead” as this nine loops around the original heritage-listed farm homestead.
Prior to relocating to the Yering Meadows site, Croydon Golf Club was located within an established residential area approximately 10 kilometres south of the new Yering site in the suburb of Croydon. By some quirk of town planning wizardry, the Croydon site had long been zoned ‘residential’ and therefore represented a prize piece of land for a residential developer. The old course was getting tired and squeezed on its boundaries by the residential sprawl and the course itself was very hilly and not so pleasant to walk so the time was right to have a serious look into the future. It was agreed to call for Expressions of Interest from developers to gauge the feasibility of moving to a new site.
Ultimately a deal was struck with the large reputable developer “Australand”. Essentially a sales figure was reached and the funds were released to the Club progressively over an agreed period. The Club managed the development of the new site themselves by engaging a group of consultants to prepare the various designs and appoint and administer specialist contractors for each aspect of the development. A very large undertaking but in the end very successfully completed thanks to the considerable efforts of their Club Manager, Damon Lonnie and Club President, Tom White.
To create interest and incorporate good drainage a series of wetlands have been created throughout the floodplain area. In all 450,000 cubic metres of cut to fill was carried out to sculpt the wetlands and the interwoven golf holes.
The course has now been open for close to 2 years and with every passing month the golf holes and wetland areas are looking more and more natural. With time it will be difficult to discern where man-made and nature merge. The greenstaff have done a great job in a short time and to already achieve a Top 100 rating is most gratifying for all concerned.