The Takeaway: A treasure on the Sandbelt and a must-play when visiting Melbourne. The back nine is incredibly compelling and stands as one of the finest inwards nines in Australia. From start to finish, few places require you to display equal balances of distance, accuracy, and finesse in your game like Victoria does. Grade A
Designer: Oscar Damman & Bill Meader in 1927 with Alister MacKenzie consulting
Cost: Private Private with visitors welcome (green fees vary) Click for membership information
Phone Number: 61 3 9583 1170
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Victoria Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Park Road, Cheltenham, Victoria 3192
Accolades: Ranked 8th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Located next door to Royal Melbourne on the famed Australia Sandbelt, the historic Victoria Golf Club is simply one of the finest courses in the Southern Hemisphere. The club has an old school feel with a vintage clubhouse that features accommodations on the second story and absolutely should be a priority to stay in when making a visit to Victoria. Outside the clubhouse is a life size statue of Australia’s most accomplished golfer, Peter Thompson, who won the Open Championship five times including three times in a row (1954 - 1956). When it comes to the golf you will find beautiful bunkering paired with greens that went through a restoration and rejuvenation with outstanding results. While there are great holes throughout the layout, the back nine is flat out world class with superior movement in the terrain and more compelling hole designs than the front. Interestingly, Victoria starts with one of the most unique openers on a championship level course, a short 255 yard par four, and then finishes each nine with back-to-back par fives. The collection of par threes are perhaps the biggest standout with the par fours providing excellent variety and engagement. Lastly, players are expected to walk the course and the routing makes it a very enjoyable stroll with terrain that has enough movement to be interesting without being overly taxing. A day at Victoria is a day well spent.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 1st Hole – 255 Yard Par 4 – How many world class courses start out with a driveable par four? Hardly any. How many are less than 275 yards? Victoria is the only one I'm aware of. This unique starting hole tests your nature right off the bat; are you playing aggressive or conservative today? The bold play is to try and drive the green which can be accomplished with less than a driver, but leaking your tee shot to the right brings in some heinous bunkers to contend with and o.b. further right than that. The conservative play is a short iron off the tee and a wedge into the green while the balanced play is a long iron short and left of the putting surface that yields a very manageable chip shot. What a fun way to start the round!
Best Par 3: 14th Hole – 155 Yards – I loved shortish uphill par threes before visiting the land Down Under, but playing on the Sandbelt only strengthened my adoration for these keen one-shotters. The 14th is another great example of how good a hole like this can be and how quickly you can get derailed if you underestimate it. This sloping green is framed by a necklace of bunkers up the left side while a pair of bunkers cut in from the right. Taking an extra club is critical for avoiding the beautiful bunkering that is quick to consume balls that come up wanting, and balls hit on the front of the green will generally roll back off. The sharp bunker edges and impressive contours make this perhaps the best green complex at Victoria.
Best Par 4: 11th Hole – 405 Yards – The back nine is clearly the better of the two sides at Victoria with superior terrain and hole designs, and the 11th is an early example of what lies in store. A row of bunkers ascend up the left side of the fairway virtually begging you to hit a cut off them, but if you block your tee shot right then your ball will fall victim to the trees and native grasses protecting that side of the hole. The approach shot plays uphill to a green flanked with bunkers on each side with short of the green being the safest place to miss. The back to front sloping green can be attacked aggressively from below the hole but must be respected coming back down the slope. The tree removal that was done during the recent renovation has really boosted the aesthetics and appeal of this hole.
Best Par 5: 17th Hole – 576 Yards – If starting with a 255 yard par four wasn't unique enough for you, then perhaps finishing on back-to-back par fives on each nine will engage your interest. The better of the two back nine pars five, the 17th plays as a three shot hole for most players so there isn't a big reward for getting to aggressive here. Taking your tee ball up the left side keeps the fairway bunker out of play and also opens up the best angle for your second shot. The green sits in a virtual sea of bunkers with the superior angle of attack coming in from the right side where the slope fronting the green can be utilized for distance control on the testy chip into the putting surface. The gentle sloping in the green can prove to be a bigger challenge than meets the eye, so treat it with the respect it deserves.
Birdie Time: 15th Hole – 316 Yard Par 4 – How could anyone ever grow tired of playing the brilliant short par fours the Sandbelt is famous for? I know I couldn't. Another one is presented here on the 15th and presents an excellent opportunity to pick up a birdie on your round. The safest play is an iron off the tee that stays short of the bunkers found up the left side while the bold play is hammered down the middle or right side where your ball may end up on the putting surface or have a relatively easy chip into the green; as long as the flag isn't tucked behind the bunker on the right. This is a great chance to be as aggressive or conservative as you want to be; earmarks of a great design.
Bogey Beware: 13th Hole – 429 Yard Par 4 – I concur with Geoff Ogilvy that declares the unlucky 13th as the most difficult hole on the course. The tee shot is the most demanding of the day with a blind landing area and accuracy coming at a premium. The fairway slopes left to right towards the line of trees engulfing that side of the hole while big tee shots are rewarded with a shorter approach but must be done from a downhill slope to a slightly raised green; a tough combo. The front of the green will quickly repel balls back to the fairway and the strong left-to-right slope in the green creates some dicey situations when considering where to land your ball in relation to the pin. With the tee box being the only flat place on the hole and trouble lurking at every moment, bogey here is nothing to be ashamed of.