Victoria is a destination that, for golfers, often poses as many questions as it answers. And the most obvious of those is: where to play? With so many high-quality golf courses in and around the city, a golf trip to the Garden State quickly becomes an exercise in where not to play rather than where.

The Melbourne Sandbelt courses usually get the nod for prestige and from those golfers seeking to tick world-ranked courses off their bucket list. Yet savvy travellers know you don’t need to venture very far out of town – in any direction – to find an array of golf courses that belong in any discussion of the nation’s best.

The Mornington Peninsula to the south-east, the Bellarine Peninsula to the south-west, the Yarra Valley to the north-east and the Murray River region to the north essentially ensure Melbourne is hemmed in on all sides by leading golf destinations.

Your schedule, location preferences and off-course inclinations will determine where is right for your golf partners and touring posse, but whatever you can’t squeeze in this time you can just save for your next visit.

Here are the four key destinations:

Mornington Peninsula

For quality, quantity and variety of courses, is there a better golf destination in Australia? It’s unlikely. Whether it’s The National, which routinely allows daily interstate guest access to at least one of its three Peninsula-based courses, The Dunes, St Andrews Beach, either layout at Moonah Links, Portsea, Sorrento, RACV Cape Schanck, Rosebud or the delightful Flinders layout, golfers have a veritable smorgasbord of options.

Portsea Golf Club offers a place to stay as well as play.

Portsea Golf Club offers a place to stay as well as play.

The wedge of land separating Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay has gradually become a golfer’s paradise, with the natural terrain and the elements provided by the two bodies of water giving the location a capricious personality. Even at The National alone, the main 54 holes provide a high level of quality and diversity in one place. Add the entirely publicly accessible gems scattered along the peninsula, and you can quickly fill a golf itinerary stretching for a week (or longer).

The Dunes remains as popular – and as good – as ever.

The Dunes remains as popular – and as good – as ever.

The Mornington is also home to a vast collection of popular non-golf attractions – think beaches, wineries, hot springs, day spas and even a maze – and is a comfortable one-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD via the Peninsula Link motorway.

Bellarine Peninsula

The growing and resounding acclaim for the Victorian Open each February is having the happy coincidence of turning the global spotlight on the Bellarine Peninsula. And while the two courses at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links receive maximum attention, the region’s other fine courses – notably Barwon Heads, Curlewis, The Sands Torquay, the sneaky-good Portarlington and others – feel heightened love by association.

Curlewis is a rising star in Australian golf.

No longer merely the ‘other’ peninsula, the Bellarine is a legitimate golf destination with the added bonus of having both a world-famous beach and scenic coastal road at its doorstep. But where golf is concerned, the twin layouts at Thirteenth Beach plus neighbouring Barwon Heads make for an exceptional double act on a weekend away. Extend your stay to include Curlewis – one of Australia’s rapidly improving golf destinations – and any or all of the region’s other courses, and an entire week could disappear very quickly, and happily.

While on the Bellarine Peninsula, make time to take in world-famous Bells Beach, the Queenscliff Maritime Museum and Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. The area made famous by the popular ABC TV series “Seachange” is rich in natural wonders.

Curlewis is a rising star  in Australian golf.

Yarra Valley

Four clubs, three owning more than 18 holes, frame the golf scene of the Yarra Valley. Headlined by the two courses at The Heritage, the separate relocations of Eastern Golf Club and the former Croydon Golf Club to Yering Meadows – plus the opening of Gardiners Run – has bolstered the total offering of the famous Victorian wine region.

Ripened at various vintages throughout the 2000s, the Yarra courses offer a touch of American golf landscape with the St John course at The Heritage, slivers of quintessential Australian bushland at its sister Henley course, plus the more recent additions of Yering Meadows, the new Eastern and Gardiners Run. Each weaves into the spacious landscape with ease and the added bonus for golfers seeking to maximise their on-course exposure is the total number of holes available. Heritage’s 36 combined with the 27 at Yering and Eastern (plus that club’s nine-hole Shark Waters par-3 course) make for a full gamut
of possibilities.

The Murray River region is loaded with excellent country-style courses, like Howlong Golf Club.

The Murray River region is loaded with excellent country-style courses, like Howlong Golf Club.

Murray River

Australia’s most majestic and historically significant river, the mighty Murray should be high on your list when it comes to a golf escape. The region, often rated the No.1 golf destination in Australia, combines natural beauty and top-shelf golf with a vast array of accommodation options that attract visitors from across the globe.

With two championship golf courses only five minutes apart – Black Bull Golf Club and Yarrawonga Mulwala Resort – there is the ideal starting point for your Murray River escape. Black Bull, designed by the legendary Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett, boasts a brilliant layout that’s highlighted by some of the most pure greens outside the Melbourne Sandbelt. Just up the road is Australia’s largest public-access golf resort, Yarrawonga Mulwala Resort. With 45 great holes and superior resort-style accommodation, you won’t want to leave when the weekend is up. Another must-do is Murray Downs Resort on the border at Swan Hill. An outstanding golf course in its own right, it could also be the best-value play-and-stay experience in the region.


Presidential Seal

So you’re coming to the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne this December? Great! Smartest decision you’ll make all year. Of course, you need to weave in a little golf of your own. Depending on how much time you’re planning to spend in and around Melbourne, we’ve co-ordinated four different itineraries that put you on the golf course and at the Presidents Cup. You can thank us later.

Four days:

  • Arrive morning of Tuesday, December 10.
  • Play two Yarra Valley courses on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th.
  • Attend the Presidents Cup on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th.
  • Depart evening of Friday, December 13.

Five days:

  • Arrive morning of Monday, December 9.
  • Play two Yarra Valley courses on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th.
  • Venture to the Mornington Peninsula for a day trip and golf on Wednesday 11th.
  • Return to Melbourne to attend the Presidents Cup on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th.
  • Depart evening of Friday, December 13.

Six days:

  • Arrive morning of Saturday, December 14.
  • Attend the Presidents Cup on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th.
  • Inspired by the world-class golf you’ve just witnessed, head for the Mornington Peninsula for two days of golf on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th.
  • On Wednesday 18th, take the car ferry across Port Phillip Bay to the Bellarine Peninsula for two more days’ golf.
  • Depart evening of Thursday, December 19.

Seven days:

  • Arrive morning of Friday, December 13.
  • Play a Melbourne Sandbelt course on Friday 13th.
  • Attend the Presidents Cup on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th.
  • Venture to the Mornington Peninsula for two days of golf on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th.
  • On Wednesday 18th, take the car ferry across Port Phillip Bay to the Bellarine Peninsula for two more days’ golf.
  • Depart evening of Thursday, December 19th.
Eat and drink here

High-class food and beverages and the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas go hand-in-

hand, much like bad swings and double-bogeys. Here are three top eating and/or drinking options well worth your time.

Ten Minutes by Tractor: Three separate, family owned vineyards – each located 10 minutes by tractor apart, hence the name – converged in 1997 to evolve into a popular cellar door and restaurant.

St Andrews Beach Brewery: A short stroll from the golf course of the same name, St Andrews Beach Brewery was formerly a working racehorse training facility with its own 1,200-metre track. These days the site is a multi-faceted craft brewery, although the names of the leading beers cleverly point to its previous life.

The 18th Amendment Bar: Across on the Bellarine in Geelong, this bar reprises the speakeasy bars of Chicago in the 1920s and early ’30s during the Prohibition period. Offering a range of appealing cocktails and spirits, the 18th Amendment Bar is a step back to darker, more mysterious times.

Stay here

Where you rest your golf-weary bones at the end of a round of golf will likely have at least some bearing on how well you play the next day. So your eight hours of slumber directly impacts your five hours of on-course ‘labour’. Here are three accommodation options to consider.

RACV Cape Schanck (Mornington):
This enormous but stately resort includes 13 different accommodation options, including two and three-bedroom golf villas. Plus there’s the added bonus of strolling straight to the first tee of the golf course.

Jackalope Hotel (Mornington): Blending a vineyard and winery at Merricks North with accommodation and billed as an escape from reality, Jackalope’s “lairs” come with a wide range of luxurious inclusions.

Campbell Point House (Bellarine): Situated in a captivating location, Campbell Point House features four different accommodation styles, including mansion suites and lake houses overlooking Lake Connewarre. And, yes, there’s also a day spa on site.

 

For more information on a Golfing Great head to Visit Victoria.