The Takeaway: Greg Norman was gifted with perfectly rolling terrain and expansive views on the Mornington Peninsula to work with at The National, and his Moonah design is respected as one of his best in the world. While I may be in the minority thinking that the Old course is The National’s best, Moonah doesn’t disappoint and is one of the better second shot courses around. Grade A-
Designer: Greg Norman in 2000
Cost: Private Private (Interstate and Overseas visitors welcome) Click for membership information
Phone Number: 61 3 5988 6777
Course Website: Official Website - Visit National Golf Club (Moonah)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - The Cups Drive, Cape Schanck, Victoria 3939
Accolades: Ranked 13th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Part of a club with three courses, the Moonah course at The National Golf Club on Mornington Peninsula an hour and a half south of Melbourne is often regarded in national publications as the top track at the club; though I would contend the Old course owns that spot. Moonah is routed through more subtle terrain than the Old course while still enjoying enough undulation to add interest and engagement in the design. Like so many courses in the Sandbelt, Moonah features creative and attractive bunkering that is esthetically complimented by the various species of trees that are featured in spots throughout the course which add character but are sparse enough to rarely effect play. The layout is more playable for a wider range of skill levels than the Old course due to flatter lies and shallower bunkers but it is far from a pushover with plenty of challenges awaiting; especially on a windy day. Moonah is also more open than the Old course which affords views across multiple holes at various times throughout the layout and gives players the opportunity to enjoy the expansive views across the neighboring graze land. Conditioning is excellent throughout the course and as a general rule the greens break a little less than they may appear; so if in doubt don’t get your putt outside the hole. Finally, the club allows players to walk or take a motorized cart around the course before finishing up at the clubhouse where expansive views are afforded across the party. A large locker room is available to utilize however you better be prepared to walk out with one less layer of skin as the shower heads deliver water in the most painful, piercing way I’ve ever experienced. Ultimately, National is a premier club in Australia on an absolutely fantastic piece of property and a prime place to enjoy.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 1st Hole – 402 Yard Par 4 – The opening hole at National's Moonah course just looks like Australia. When you stand on the tee you get an expansive view down the fairway and beyond to the rolling terrain, scattered foliage, and collage of colors. If you tee off first thing in the morning, you may have to yield to a kangaroo as well. The fairway bends slightly left before moving slightly downhill towards the well guarded green that is pinched down in the front. There isn't anything super dramatic, it is simply a welcoming view and start to a strong course.
Best Par 3: 5th Hole – 164 Yards – Shortish par threes seem docile enough on paper, but when the wind blows and you are playing a high lofted club, things get interesting quick. The 5th hole poses such a situation with misses to the left being death with a series of bunkers fronting a quick drop off down the ridge. To the right of the green also falls down the ridge but offers an easier pitch to potentially save par. The narrow green and partially shielded view of the putting surface create a testing combo on this uphiller.
Best Par 4: 6th Hole – 398 Yards – This hole requires precision at every moment. Off the tee you need to find the fairway by staying left of the two bunkers on the right side; there is more room to hit to then you can see. The approach shot plays to the most challenging greensite on the course with a deep cut out in front of the putting surface and a trio of gnarly bunkers left of it. The undulations in the green make positioning on the putting surface important if you want a high percentage chance of two putting; and pin placements in the back right corner can be blind from many positions in the fairway. Sub 400 yards doesn't seem like much to handle, but this hole packs a lot of punch.
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 573 Yards – My favorite hole on the course, the 15th unfolds naturally across the terrain as the fairway ribbons through the hillocks. Staying out of the rough is step one with your tee shot, then the decision comes on the approach whether to safely play out to the right side of the fairway or whether to challenge a line to the green. The fairway slopes left to right towards a trio of bunkers protecting the front right corner of the green and can pose a tricky scenario to contend with on your third shot. The raised putting surface creates a stronger set of shot to consider to conquer this beauty.
Birdie Time: 9th Hole – 342 Yard Par 4 – Don't let the strong contours in the fairway deter you from this birdie opportunity. A drive up the left side will leave the best angle for attacking the flag and yield a chance to roll in a birdie. While three bunkers flank the left side green, the approach shot over them is short enough that you can take dead aim at the flag. Take advantage of this short hole that wraps up the front nine because the back nine isn't ready to yield as much generosity.
Bogey Beware: 16th Hole – 489 Yard Par 4 – At nearly 500 yards, this hole can quickly bring you to your knees. If the overall length wasn't tough enough to contend with, the driving zone is flanked on each side of the fairway by a pair of bunkers; the deepest fairway bunkers on the course. Finding one of those bunkers takes par off the table pretty quick for most players, but keeping it in the fairway will allow a shot at reaching the green in regulation. But finding the putting surface in two won't be easy considering the four bunkers left of the green, steep slope fronting the green, and gnarly foliage right of the green. This hole is flat out tough, and if you are playing into a headwind you'll be thrilled with a bogey.