The Takeaway: The brainchild of Tom Doak, St Andrews Beach is the premier public access course to visit on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. The hole designs are architecturally interesting, risks/rewards compelling, and the setting is free from outside distractions which all combine for a great round of golf. Grade A-
Designer: Tom Doak in 2005
Cost: $72 - $94 AUD (Motorized cart $44 AUD) Click for current rates
Phone Number: 61 3 5988 6000
Course Website: Official Website - Visit St Andrews Beach Golf Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 209 Sandy Rd, Fingal, Victoria 3941
Accolades: Ranked 12th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Located on the Mornington Peninsula an hour and a half south of Melbourne, St Andrews Beach is Tom Doak’s first effort in Australia. The front nine is a wonderful and engaging ride with a links design and feel while the back nine is there to test your merit. Like so many of the great courses in Australia, St Andrews Beach is highlighted by its short par fours and the risk/reward element that comes with it. In high winds the fairways are generous enough to still hit but your skill will be tested on the approach shots where the sloping edges are quick to shed off shots that aren’t spot on. When you miss the green you’ll likely be in a bunker or on short grass where you’ll need to pinch a wedge off a tight lie or simply pull out your putter and roll it across the fairway apron and onto the putting surface. While some courses on the famous Melbourne Sandbelt are routed on flat terrain, going south to the Mornington Peninsula guarantees you’ll get to enjoy undulated ground with St Andrews Beach laying along nicely rolling earth that is engaging to play golf on while still lending itself to walking. Conditioning isn’t as impressive as the clubs in Melbourne but is certainly good enough to not detract from the enjoyment of the round. Power carts are available to take for players that prefer not to walk and the modest clubhouse offers logo gear and food. If you’ve come to Australia to see a kangaroo (or the smaller wallabies) then St Andrews Beach is quick to please you as they are commonly found bounding along the property with the early morning and evenings being the prime time for them to be out and about.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 2nd Hole – 305 Yard Par 4 – This is one of my favorite holes in all of Australia. The Sandbelt is known for some high level short par fours and this one fits right in with the best of them. At just over 300 yards, the green is reachable with a good poke; especially if you play it up the right half of the fairway and utilize the strong right-to-left tilt that will tumble your ball toward the putting surface. Taking a line at the flag is dangerous, if not deadly, with a series of bunkers and thick foliage protecting the left side of the hole. It is a classic risk/reward opportunity that is loads of fun each time around.
Best Par 3: 6th Hole – 185 Yards – Another trademark feature found throughout the Australian Sandbelt are quality uphill par threes that aren't punishing in length, and that is what you find at the 6th hole. You want nothing to do with the right side that is flanked by bunkers and thick foliage, however the left half of the green is plenty generous with additional help left of the green where balls hit the shaved grass and carom over to the putting surface. The biggest mistake you can make here is coming up short where a false front is anxious to swat your ball back to a chipping area where an awkward up and down opportunity presents itself. There are clear options here to consider, so be smart and make a good tee shot.
Best Par 4: 3rd Hole – 443 Yards – This hole is as good as it is difficult, and it is plenty difficult. Like so many of the best holes in Australia, there are risk/reward opportunities here as well as some clear strategies to consider. The safe play is up the left side of the fairway which is visible from the tee while the bold player can take a line over the right corner of the fairway if they have the length to carry the trouble. On the approach shot players have to navigate a chute that fronts the green and presents a couple of options. If you try and run it up the front you better have sniper accuracy and deft distance control. Coming in the right half of the green flirts with the natural tree line whereas being willing to shoot blind over the tall bunkering on the left side will yield a kick onto the green from the shaved bank awaiting on the other side. It really is a fantastic hole where par should always be celebrated.
Best Par 5: 1st Hole – 544 Yards – What a great way to start a course! The opening tee shot at St Andrews Beach provides an inspiring view from an elevated tee where players can swing away without much fear due to the generous fairway width below. The second shot is where the strategy comes into play as golfers decide whether to layup on the right side of the fairway or whether they have some fun trying to blast their ball over the cavernous bunker engulfing the left side. Balls that clear the bunker system will have a chance to chase their ball onto the putting surface where an eagle putt awaits, but the undulations around the green could keep the putter in your bag if you get the wrong kick. It is a fun way to kick off your round and experience some of the features St Andrews Beach is known for.
Birdie Time: 14th Hole – 302 Yard Par 4 – Another clear strategy is presented on the 14th to ensure the best chance of carding a birdie. Keep your drive up the left side and you'll be left with an easy chip onto the green if you don't have the length to reach it with your tee shot. Drives that tumble down to the right half of the fairway will be left with a testing chip over a bunker to a blind target which rarely results in getting closer to the hole than could be accomplished from the left side. Doak is always going to give you some chances to score well so take advantage of it now, because there are other holes you'll need the insurance on your scorecard.
Bogey Beware: 13th Hole – 500 Yard Par 4 – Reportedly the longest par four in Australia, the 13th is flat out brutal. Generally playing into the wind, many players won't have the length to reach this green in two so it is mostly a matter of managing this hole the best you can and trying to keep a big number off the scorecard. Players are faced with a blind tee shot but colored posts planted in the rough beyond the tee box correspond to the tee box you are playing from and provide a corresponding aiming point. While the green sits in a pseudo punchbowl that should be forgiving on the approach shot, the front of the bowl spills out to a chipping area and denies shots from reaching the green if they don't have sufficient energy to make the climb. The tiny green add insult to injury and borders on cruel and unusual punishment. Par here will take a full stroke on the field all day long.