Located 75 minutes south of Melbourne on the Bellarine Peninsula,the sleepy holiday village of Barwon Heads is a popular summer beach getaway for Victorians, but any golfer worth his salt knows Barwon Heads for it's wonderful old links golf course!
Barwon Heads GC was founded in 1907 as a nine hole course, but moved to it's present site in the sand dunes and ti tree adjacent to Bass Strait in 1921. Royal Melbourne GC professional Victor East designed the new course which had 18 holes in operation by 1922. The wonderful old weatherboard clubhouse is instantly recognisable and with recent renovations is a classy place to stay, with quality dining options. It has that old world feel with all modern conveniences. Throw in a fun par 3 course, and adjacent beach and a stay at Barwon Heads really should be on every golfers bucket list.
After a visit to the quirky 2 storey weatherboard proshop, the first 6 holes at Barwon Heads head out into classic links land, open and exposed to the elements- before returning to the clubhouse.
The course is relatively short, playing only 5591 metres off the members tees. But the weather has a major say at Barwon Heads with the turf firm and fast like the classic U.K. links, so controlling your ball in the wind can be challenging.
Those first 6 holes are exposed and many feel this is the strongest section of the course. Certainly the long par 4 third hole, which often plays into the prevailing wind, is a good hole. Players must choose their line carefully off the tee with a vast sandy waste intimidating on the inside of the dogleg.
Hole 4 is a beauty! - this short par 3 with a tee set high on the primal dune requires a tee shot to carry over tea tree and valley to an elevated tiered green sculpted into the sand dunes. With cross winds in play it requires an accurate iron to find the playing surface, and a deft short game to recover.
Hole 6 is also a favourite. It is an uphill mid length par 4 with the clubhouse prominent in the background. It's just a lovely links golf hole.
The course then plays past the clubhouse and away from the more open links land. These holes are framed by tea tree and some consider them less links holes, more links style...It matters not. Certainly the tee shots are tighter with trees now a visual obstacle, but the sand dune base is still there- as are the quality holes.
In recent years one of Australia's leading Golf architectural firms- Crafter & Mogford Golf Strategies- have been employed to rethink and refresh the classic old course. They have widened some fairway surrounds, and taken out tracts of tea trees giving the back twelve holes a linksier feel. Perhaps the best example of this is the dogleg par 4 ninth hole where an awkward, severe hole has been transformed into a real classic.
Undoubtably the best known hole at Barwon Heads is the short par 3 thirteenth hole. The tee shot from high on a dune usually only requires a short iron, and it’s all hang time as you approach the small green surrounded by dunes and valleys, bumps and hollows, dips and swales- but not one bunker!
You can take great pride if you hit and hold such a firm small target- particularly if the ever present wind turns it up a notch.
But worry not if you miss…
You will probably have more fun anyway just trying to work out the recovery!
This really is a fantastic golf hole!
I had the privilege of witnessing some of the work done by Crafter Mogford on this hole, and I can tell you they were meticulous. The results are there for all to see. These guys are good!
They have also transformed the par 5 fourteenth hole into a majestic par 5.
And I always like playing the closing hole- a mid length par 4 with a green that requires an accurate approach. The hole plays alongside that classic old clubhouse, constantly reminding you where you are..
Barwon Heads is a Travelling Golfer must play!
What more can I say?
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