The Takeaway: A variation of the Composite course, the Presidents Cup routing is the finest course in the world that is utilized to host world championship golf. No other course displays a finer combination of compelling architecture, artistic bunkers, and fairness in difficult that Royal Melbourne does. The natural movement in the terrain is the envy of the golfing world and it stands as the finest non-coastal course ever created. Grade A+
Designer: Alister MacKenzie (West) in 1931 and Alex Russell (East) in 1932. Composite first used in 1959.
Cost: Private Private (Interstate, International, and Reciprocal visitors welcome) Click for membership information
Phone Number: 61 3 9599 0500
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Presidents Cup)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Cheltenham Road, Black Rock, Victoria 3193 – AUSTRALIA
Accolades: Host of the Presidents Cup in 2011 and 2019
What to Expect: An elite level routing that is only playable during the Presidents Cup, this version of the Composite course at Royal Melbourne is unanimous in its approval from players and spectators alike. The Presidents Cup course features six of the best holes from the East course and twelve of the best holes from the West course to create a world class routing that is easily top 10 in the world. Different from the routing that is used for the traditional Composite course that the club sets up for members less than ten times a year, the Presidents Cup course features the following order of holes: 3W, 4W, 5W, 6W, 7W, 10W, 11W, 12W, 17W, 18W, 1E, 2E, 3E, 16E, 17E, 18E, 1W and 2W. Conversely, the Composite course use a slightly different routing which is as follows: 1W, 2W, 1E, 2E, 5W, 6W, 7W, 10W, 11W, 12W, 17W, 18W, 3W, 4W, 3E, 4E, 17E, and 18E. You’ll notice that the Presidents Cup course employs the 16th hole from the East course in its routing while the traditional Composite course utilizes the 4th hole from the East course, both of which are par threes and located in the same part of the property. Also, when these alternative routings are used the 2nd hole from the West course is slightly shortened and featured as a par four rather than par five while the 12th hole from the West plays the same length as its usual par five self, but carries a par of four during the event. When both courses are in play the West course puts up flags that are white and blue and the East course flys white and red flags. On days when the Composite course is set up, the flags are solid white with the club logo centered in the middle. For the Presidents Cup, yellow flags with the event logo are utilized. Ultimately, the holes used in the Presidents Cup course and Composite course, those found south of Cheltenham Road and west of Reserve Road, are some of the finest holes in the Southern Hemisphere and are found on beautifully rolling terrain as opposed to the mostly flat terrain on the other sides of the roads.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 3rd Hole – 176 Yard Par 3 – The instant you stand on the tee box for the 3rd hole you know you have arrived as a special one-shotter and one of the best mid-length par threes in the world. A total of five bunkers hug the edges of the putting surface and flighting your ball far enough onto the green that it stays is paramount for success as chipping from the apron short of the green requires the finest of touch. Getting above the hole is one of the scariest experiences in golf, and if you have some side slope to add to it your knees will be knocking over a three footer more than anywhere else that you've likely experienced. The hill the green sits on with the natural amphitheater surrounding the putting surface is truly one of the finest greensites in the world and never provides a dull moment. (5th hole on the West course)
Best Par 3: 5th Hole – 148 Yards – The 5th is further proof that you don't need length to design a testing par three. At less than 150 yards, the hole looks like a pushover on paper; but we all know that golf isn't played on paper. A brilliant uphill one-shotter, this hole features a modest sized green protected on the right by a series of three bunkers while the solo bunker long and left ensures that you can't completely bail out when firing at this hole. The green slopes hard from left to right with the only flat spot being afforded on the right third or quarter of the green. That flat portion is a tiny target to hit but yields big rewards if you do, whereas staying left affords more putting surface to play with but a much more challenging putt afterwards. Experiencing the brilliance of Royal Melbourne is one of the great experiences in the world of golf, and the 7th hole contributes to that. (7th hole on the West course)
Best Par 4: 4th Hole – 439 Yards – Like the 8th at Pebble Beach, it takes about a millisecond to see how the 4th hole on Royal Melbourne's West course is one of the finest par fours on Mother Earth. The bunkering on the corner of the dogleg is the best I've ever seen in an effort to protect the hole without being unreasonable. The bunkering on that corner stretches out farther the further right you aim; so if you are going to try and cut the corner you darn well better hit your ball solid and precisely online. If you don't take on the bunkers then you aim left of them to what appears to be a wide landing area but can quickly turn against you as the fairway slopes away from the player and towards the tall grass and foliage on the far side. The further left you are off the tee the more challenging the approach shot is as the heinous bunker fronting the left side of the green comes into play; and that is the most difficult bunker on the entire property to save par from. The severely sloping green is a challenge on its own and would surely be considered a par three on a miniature golf course going from one end to the other, and four putts are not that uncommon. This is a fantastic hole that challenges every level of golfer and greatly rewards those that can tame it. (6th hole on the West course)
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 569 Yards – The longest of the 36 holes at Royal Melbourne, this three-shotter sets up well late in the round as an opportunity to be aggressive in an effort to get a stroke back or play it conservative to protect a score. The tee shot should be played to the left side to open the hole up and best handle the fairway that slopes slightly to the right. If you have a clear look then you can blast a fairway wood over the cross bunkers about 100 yards from the green and try and chase your ball towards the apron of the putting surface in an effort to get down in four strokes. If you are playing for par then laying up short of the bunkers is the prudent play with the left side of the fairway being the preferable spot to keep as much sand out of play as possible. The subtle valley in the green shouldn’t scare anyone but can move a ball just enough offline to cost you a stroke if you don’t read it right. (17th hole on the East course)
Birdie Time: 11th Hole – 332 Yard Par 4 – Another one of the great short par fours on Melbourne’s Sandbelt, the 11th hole is a ton of fun and perfect for match play. The landing area is blind from the tee and the fairway bends slightly right while the terrain wants to push balls to the left. The bunker system on the right side of the fairway separates this hole from the 8th on the West course while the bunkers on the right side of the green are nearly impossible to get up and down from. The perfect drive is a baby cut that works its way towards the opening in front of the green and if it comes up short, you leave yourself an opportunity to chip back into the slope. Getting on the right side of the green and putting to a hole location at the bottom left is one of the scarier putts on the course with the ball begging to race off the green. During the 2019 Presidents Cup, Dustin Johnson famously drove this green and left himself a short four foot putt for eagle. But Royal Melbourne wasn’t ready to yield quite so easily as the slope in the green was just enough for Johnson’s eagle putt to catch the right edge and lip out. (1st hole on the East course)
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 439 Yard Par 4 – Like the 8th at Pebble Beach, it takes about a millisecond to see how the 6th hole on Royal Melbourne's West course is one of the finest par fours on Mother Earth. The bunkering on the corner of the dogleg is the best I've ever seen in an effort to protect the hole without being unreasonable. The bunkering on that corner stretches out farther the further right you aim; so if you are going to try and cut the corner you darn well better hit your ball solid and precisely online. If you don't take on the bunkers then you aim left of them to what appears to be a wide landing area but can quickly turn against you as the fairway slopes away from the player and towards the tall grass and foliage on the far side. The further left you are off the tee the more challenging the approach shot is as the heinous bunker fronting the left side of the green comes into play; and that is the most difficult bunker on the entire property to save par from. The severely sloping green is a challenge on its own and would surely be considered a par three on a miniature golf course going from one end to the other, and four putts are not that uncommon. This is a fantastic hole that challenges every level of golfer and greatly rewards those that can tame it. During the 2019 Presidents Cup this hole continued to show its teeth as in tournaments past by yielding more bogies than any other hole during the Sunday singles matches. (6th hole on the West course)