A Brief History of The National Golf Club
Golf first came to Cape Schanck when former pro golfer and golf developer Colin Campbell opened The Cape Country Club in 1972
Campbell had planned to expand the project, but his plans faltered, and it wasn’t until David Inglis became involved in 1979 that the vision of The National Golf Club- being one of two courses- one private and one public, and a housing estate- became the template going forward.
Inglis was an entrepreneur, and known for starting The Australian Masters tournament.
No one was prouder when in 1988 The National Golf Club formally opened with a magnificent Robert Trent Jones Jnr course in sand dunes on the coast.
Now known as The Old Course at The National, originally it was simply called The National.
A sister course- Cape Schanck GC- also designed by Trent Jones- opened in 1986 sited largely in place of The Cape Country Club, and remains a popular public access course.
In 1997 The National initiated action to purchase adjacent links land, eventually appointing Thomson, Wolveridge & Perret to design The Ocean Course, and Greg Norman to produce The Moonah Course.
Both courses were open for play late in 2000 making the National the proud owner of 54 holes of championship links golf
In 2014 The club entered into a merger with Long Island Country Club, and now boasts 4 championship standard golf courses and 3200 members - making it the biggest club in the southern hemisphere
In 2018 the club announced the appointment of renowned architect Tom Doak to completely redesign The Ocean Course.
The new course opened in April 2019 and is called The Gunnamatta Course at The National Golf Club
The Moonah Course
Greg Norman needs no introduction.
As a golfer Norman held the world no 1 ranking for a massive 331 weeks.
He won 91 international tournaments including 20 PGA events, and 2 majors.
As a golf architect he now has over 100 courses around the world that he has designed.
His services are in great demand and new courses in Vietnam, Oman and Mexico continue to enhance his reputation.
With the help of his trusty sidekick Bob Harrison, Norman was engaged by the National GC to design The Moonah course on some links land that appeared perfect for golf.
Members had for years peered down on 'The Cups'- as this stretch of sandy farmland was called-with thoughts of how perfect the land would be for golf holes.
Norman produced a very strong out and back routing, although Initial thoughts of a crossover hole were rejected by the club before Norman settled on the routing now in use.
In the end of the day, Norman & Harrison have fashioned one of the few true links in Australia , and a championship links at that.
Moving through and over the dunescape, with no two holes alike, the course builds to a championship finish.
Holes 4 through to 11 are full of interest and fun to play, but then the inward holes starting with the long par 5 twelfth hole conduct a thorough examination one one's golf- even if the conditions are benign.
And when the weather does come in- as it is wont to do every now and then- then The Moonah can be be a brute.
Norman has brought the best out of a wonderful golfing site and produced a course that could host The Australian Open without much preparation- yet is playable (and very enjoyable) most days for the club member.
That's a neat trick!
The highlight for me is the dramatic natural looking bunkering throughout- both fairway and greenside bunkers are well positioned, and imposing in a natural blown out kinda way.
Norman is a fan of the MacKenzie style bunkering found in the Melbourne Sandbelt and his designs reflect those influences.
On the Moonah course the clusters of bunkers were made up of smaller cavities as dictated by the wind, and each was deliberately roughly shaped and then refined by the wind to give that rugged jagged appearance that The Moonah course is known for.
The green complexes have movement which can test the golfer without being overdone, and as with each of the courses at The National they are in 'mint' condition.
It is a world class course, and currently rates as a world top 100 and Australian top 10 course (Golf Digest USA).
Notable holes include:
hole 4- a strong par 4 with a winding fairway and a wonderful angled green complex tucked into the hill and well protected by yawning bunkers
hole 6- a shortish par with a blind tee shot and a unique double green wrapped around a dune
hole 8- a brilliant short par 3 with a heavily contoured green completely exposed to the conditions and guarded by the deepest of bunkers (see pic top of page)
hole 10- a medium length par 4 through a valley. A windmill centrally located on the fairway, and a convoluted green complex (see pic mid page) complete the picture
hole 11- a beautiful hole- this short par 4 has a blind tee shot over a saddle and then a semi blind approach to a punchbowl green
hole 17- a natural par 3 with moonah trees and bunkering guarding the green
hole 18- a long, strong finishing hole winding through the ancient moonah trees to a green that can only be reached by a long accurate approach
The Moonah Course is a terrific test of golf and one of Australia's best championship links.
Greg Norman has done justice to a great piece of golfing land.
I think it is amongst his best efforts as a golf architect in an impressive portfolio world-wide.
And it is fun to play!
We rate it a"Travelling Golfer must play!"
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