There was a time when the golf course was enough. A shiny new toy for golfers to fawn over generally with a high-profile course designer attached and accommodation that ranged from bare essentials to opulent luxury, depending on your taste and travel budget.
But the modern golf resort needs more. It needs to not only appeal to those with sticks in tow but also offer enough to attract guests who view the golf course as simply providing a nice vista from their room or an optional extra if the mood strikes them to take a swing.
Although professional golfers spend their lives checking in and out of various levels of golf resorts and hotels, they rarely get to experience the full range of facilities on offer. People within the golf media, however, get to sample the very best a resort can dish up.
“The best golf resorts boast more than just golf,” says Luke Elvy, an Australian broadcaster now based in North America who has worked for CBS Sports and PGA Tour Entertainment in recent years.
“Yes, places like Bandon Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes or Cabot Cliffs are exceptional pure golf experiences, but as a sports nut I’ve always enjoyed all types of activities. I actually learned to play at Kooralbyn Valley in the mid-’80s. On top of its great main course, it had a short course – where I learnt to play as a seven-year-old – tennis courts and other activities that included the whole family.
“These days, as a parent myself, anything that has a great beach/pool and dining combination plus two or three different golf courses to play grabs me. In that respect, Kapalua in Maui ticks all the boxes.”
Two-time Nationwide Tour winner Ewan Porter is in the process of making the transition from professional golf into the media and believes a facility such as RACV Cape Schanck on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has the mix just right.
“Cape Schanck has got it spot on,” Porter tells Australian Golf Digest after a visit in March. “They’ve got the high-end restaurant, which is amazing. It’s almost farm-to-table local produce, but they’ve also got the café as well if you don’t want to spend that much and it’s open from 6am until midnight.
“There’s extensive wine, whisky and beer lists, the gym is amazing, the golf course is fantastic and the accommodation is lovely. When I arrived I was treated well and I felt like I didn’t have to leave.
“If I’m going to a resort, I like the idea that everything I need is right there for me and I don’t have to leave. Somewhere like Cape Schanck has all of that.”
Including Cape Schanck, the RACV Group has constructed a golf resort portfolio in recent years that delivers something for everyone in some of the most desirable holiday destinations in the country.
It’s time you treated yourself… and your loved ones.
RACV Cape Schanck Resort
A stunning new accommodation offering has not only changed what is possible at RACV Cape Schanck but also given the Mornington Peninsula a new standard in luxury. Regarded by many as the best golf destination in Australia, the Mornington Peninsula’s array of quality courses has enticed many golfers to the region in the past 30 years.
With a course designed by acclaimed American architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr and opened in 1985, Cape Schanck is enjoying a resurgence based primarily on the opening of the RACV resort’s new accommodation building. Boasting 120 world-class hotel rooms and all the facilities you would expect of a high-end resort, Cape Schanck now serves as the ideal base from which to explore all that the peninsula has to offer.
“The new building has taken not only Cape Schanck but the peninsula to another level now in terms of what we can offer,” says golf shop manager Nigel Stephens.
“The day spa is terrific, the gym is exceptional in terms of a resort offering and we’ve got a four-lane, 25-metre lap pool plus a free swim area. We’re one of the biggest conferencing facilities in Victoria now outside of the Melbourne CBD, so it’s another offering for corporates in particular to get away from the city and focus on the job at hand. The accommodation is at a five-star level and I don’t believe there has been anything of this size on the peninsula at that standard.
“While we want people to come and stay at Cape Schanck, we want the whole of the Mornington Peninsula to benefit and for people to embrace the peninsula as a whole when they are visiting here.”
Deciding which courses to play can often be the most problematic part of planning a Mornington Peninsula golf trip, but Cape Schanck is now ready to emerge from the shadows of some of its more famous neighbours.
“People are still surprised at how good the course is when they come here and in particular how spectacular the views are on the back nine,” Stephens adds. “In some ways that’s good because we’re exceeding expectations, but we would much rather that everyone knows Cape Schanck and the quality of what we offer on and off the golf course.”
It might measure only 5,630 metres, but the Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed golf course at Cape Schanck is enough to test the very best. Aaron Pike’s winning score at last year’s Victorian PGA Championship was just 11-under for four rounds, the course providing equal opportunity for the aggressive golfers and those who prefer a more strategic approach. Boasting spectacular views across the Mornington Peninsula throughout the back nine in particular, Cape Schanck thoroughly deserves its place among the leading courses to play at one of Australia’s top golf destinations.
Only 12 months old, the unique architecture of the Wood Marsh design maximises the resort’s position to provide stunning vistas from virtually every one of the 120 rooms located within the new resort building. In addition, there are 12 self-contained villas and 48 ocean view rooms separate to the main building, while the flexible conferencing facilities cater to groups from 10 to almost 400. The height of luxury is the Peninsula Suite room with its 180-degree wraparound balcony, deep-soaking freestanding spa bath and separate living and bedding spaces
Families will enjoy the relaxed style of the Italian-themed Mantellina restaurant with Cape restaurant delivering a fine dining alternative using locally sourced produce prepared by executive chef Josh Pelham. Given the region’s reputation as a producer of high-quality wines, the wine list is heavily populated by the best the Mornington Peninsula offers.
Walking tracks extend like tentacles from Cape Schanck into the surrounding landscape, and when you return you can indulge in a treatment from One Spa’s extensive menu. The young ones can expel some energy on the jumping pillow, flying fox and climbing apparatus with tennis courts, fitness centre and four-lane indoor lap pool available for those who like to keep active on holiday.
RACV Cape Schanck Resort
Trent Jones Drive, Cape Schanck VIC
P: (03) 5950 8000
RACV Cape Schanck Resort Stay and Play Package
Overnight luxurious accommodation, full buffet breakfast daily and one round of 18 holes of golf for two, including cart hire, per stay. RACV members benefit with 25 percent off accommodation when booking direct with special rates also for other auto club members.
RACV Goldfields Resort
It is a region built by gold and rich in Australian history, but in more recent times it is golf and the exploding mountain bike movement that is drawing visitors to the Goldfields region in central Victoria.
With acclaimed tourist attraction Sovereign Hill at its epicentre, Ballarat’s historical significance serves as the region’s major hub and RACV Goldfields Resort in Creswick is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding towns.
First opened more than a decade ago as the Forest Resort, Creswick; RACV Goldfields Resort now boasts 137 rooms and extensive conferencing facilities, its location little more than an hour from the western suburbs of Melbourne making it a popular option for corporate getaways.
Added to the RACV portfolio in November 2015, the Goldfields Resort boasts a golf course designed by Tony Cashmore with input from Robert Allenby and an expanding array of mountain bike trails just waiting to be explored.
“There is a track that runs through the resort which links up to other tracks in Creswick and throughout central Victoria that will ultimately become 100-kilometres-plus of mountain bike tracks,” explains Goldfields Resort manager Steven Oliver.
“At Christmas time we launched a dedicated mountain bike storage room for our guests because this area is extremely popular for mountain biking.”
In addition to popular annual festivals such as Winter Wonderland in Ballarat, the Western Bulldogs bring two AFL home games a year to Mars Stadium, making it an ideal weekend away.
“While it may not be seen as a golf destination as such, there are a number of really good quality regional courses all within close proximity to Ballarat,” Oliver says. “Ballarat Golf Club is a fantastic course, Buninyong Golf Club in Ballarat and Midlands Golf Club are all very good golf courses.
“There are a number of events that happen each year at not only Ballarat but also Clunes and Daylesford, so the Goldfields Resort really is an excellent base from which to explore the entire region.”
Aware of its reputation as a stern test, the Goldfields Resort team recently asked for the course to be re-rated by Golf Australia and an increase in its Slope rating now makes it somewhat easier for visitors to play to their handicap. A picturesque course set into the hills, Goldfields measures 6,300 metres from the back tees but has a nuance to it that rewards those who take the time to plot their best path for the 18 holes. Regular elevation changes make club selection crucial, particularly on approach shots into the green.
Resort rooms offer views over the golf course or Creswick State Forest, but it is the spacious family rooms that will have most appeal for those travelling with kids. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom Family Room includes a small kitchenette to personalise your stay or the resort can accommodate your family in two interconnecting rooms. If you like a little more luxury in your holiday, the Premium Fairway Suite features a king bed, two-person spa bath overlooking the balcony with views of the golf course and Creswick State Forest plus a separate lounge area with a gas log fire.
Harvest Restaurant is the primary dining alternative at RACV Goldfields and calls on the region’s historical significance to create a unique dining experience at very affordable prices. Springs Bar and Terrace is the place for slightly lighter meals and a kid’s menu with all their
Golf and mountain biking are just two of the activities you can indulge in while staying at RACV Goldfields Resort. There’s a new children’s playground complete with flying fox, climbing frame, swings and slides while the Gold Rush Family Package includes entry to Sovereign Hill where you can go prospecting for your very own piece of gold.
RACV Goldfields Resort
1500 Midland Highway, Creswick VIC
P: (03) 5345 9600
RACV Goldfields Resort Stay and Package
Accommodation, full buffet breakfast for two people and 18 holes of golf for two adults. RACV members benefit with 25 percent off accommodation when booking direct with special rates also for other auto club members.
RACV Royal Pines Resort
Like the Gold Coast itself, there is more to RACV Royal Pines Resort than meets the eye. Perennially one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations, if you look just beneath the surface there is great depth to what the Gold Coast offers and the same can be said for Royal Pines.
Home to the Australian PGA Championship that sees the Graham Marsh-designed golf course broadcast into the lounge rooms of millions of households throughout the world, Royal Pines is also a leader in conferencing and a popular choice for families who come to the Gold Coast to visit the theme parks just 15 minutes away.
The dining alternatives are also of the highest standard, with the signature Videre Restaurant awarded prestigious Chef Hats by the Australian Good Food Guide in 2017 and 2018 and named Queensland finalist in both Regional Restaurant of the Year and Best Restaurant in a Resort or Casino of the Year categories by the Gault & Millau Restaurant Guide.
“There’s a lot more to the resort than just the golf course, that’s for sure,” says manager of golf, sport and leisure, David Hogben.
“Keen golfers of course want to play the course that they have seen some of the world’s best play on TV, but for the non-golfers we’ve got One Spa, our water park and jumping pillow for the kids and we have TimeOut Adventures who provide a range of activities.”
With golf membership currently available and the course looking arguably the best it has since the resort opened more than 30 years ago, Royal Pines remains a popular choice for golf groups who make an annual pilgrimage to the Gold Coast.
According to Hogben, the resort is working to provide the complete Royal Pines experience at very competitive prices.
“There are plenty of accommodation options on the Gold Coast, but we are working at delivering a stay-and-play package that we believe will be very attractive to golf groups visiting the Gold Coast,” Hogben explains. “Many people who come and stay at the resort do play golf because, let’s face it, what could be better than stepping out of your hotel room and onto the first tee?”
Home to the Australian PGA Championship, RACV Royal Pines boasts 27 holes but it is the Graham Marsh-designed Championship course that guests all want to play. An extremely challenging test from the back tees and with the wind up, a variety of tee boxes make it playable for all standard of golfers. The highlights are the par-4 eighth and par-3 16th holes where you can try to emulate the shots you have seen struck by the likes of Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and defending champion Cameron Smith.
One of the Gold Coast’s premier conference facilities, Royal Pines offers everything from king and twin rooms through to two-bedroom family rooms with views over the golf course or the hinterland to the west. Executive Package guests can also enjoy the luxury of the executive lounge with contemporary furnishings and private meeting area.
A veritable smorgasbord of dining options awaits at Royal Pines with no fewer than eight restaurants and bars at which to unwind and revel in fine food with family and friends. The award-winning menu and expansive views offered by its location on Level 21, Videre is regarded as one of the Gold Coast’s premier restaurant experiences, while Trattoria Amici and Arakawa offer Italian and Japanese cuisines. And if you need a feed straight after your round of golf, Tees Clubhouse has the staple favourites as well as some specialties such as the pork belly hoagie, sticky spicy Korean chicken wings and asparagus, peat and feta salad.
Golf is by no means your only option for activity at Royal Pines. The tennis courts are of international standard with tuition available and the One Lifestyle fitness centre utilises the latest in resistance training and cardio equipment. One Spa provides the perfect pampering experience complete with four dry treatment rooms, two wet treatment rooms and two couples rooms, but if fun is more your thing the water park is ideal for the young and young at heart. The jumping pillow and playground can also keep the little ones entertained for hours.
RACV Royal Pines Resort
Ross St, Benowa QLD
P: (07) 5597 8700
RACV Royal Pines Resort Stay and Play Package
Accommodation for two people and one round of 18 holes of golf per stay, and daily buffet breakfast in Kalinda Restaurant. RACV members benefit with 25 percent off accommodation when booking direct with special rates also for other auto club members.
RACV Torquay Resort
With an address such as 1 Great Ocean Road, it’s little wonder RACV Torquay Resort is the destination of choice for golfers and non-golfers alike.
A golf course that has been enhanced by the design team led by Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Clayton provides just part of the appeal of what is quickly becoming a world-class resort.
The Bellarine Peninsula itself has a vast array of places to visit and activities to engage in, but the beauty of RACV Torquay Resort is that once you arrive, you need not get back in the car until you depart. On-site you are spoilt for choice and Torquay’s town centre with its own array of dining alternatives is merely a leisurely stroll away.
“The resort itself combined with the location makes it a highly desirable place to stay, but to my mind the thing that sets us apart is that you can park your car when you arrive and not need it again until you leave,” explains golf operations manager Michael Clancy.
“Torquay and Jan Juc beaches are both within walking distance and there is a walking track that goes around the resort, up into the dunes and to a lookout at the top of the dunes. You can walk to the beach, you can walk to the centre of town – everything is at your fingertips, which is something that not a lot of resorts can claim.”
The par-71 golf course that underwent a redesign by the team at Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead boasts a number of exciting holes that wind through dunes and climb to offer views over the iconic Jan Juc and Bells beaches.
Ranked eighth in the top 25 Luxury Hotels in Australia TripAdvisor Travellers Choice awards, all rooms and suites feature king-size beds with views taking in either the coastline or the golf course. The Ocean Spa suites offer the height of luxury while spacious family rooms can be configured and tailored to your family or golf group.
Number One Restaurant is the fine-dining experience that guests at RACV Torquay Resort never forget. The spectacular setting is matched by the way local produce is used by head chef Michael Bannerman to create sumptuous dishes. White’s Paddock offers a more casual dining alternative while Harding’s Lounge is a luxurious space where you can enjoy a light meal.
You can be as active or as pampered as you prefer. At One Spa you can enjoy remedial and relaxation massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, waxing, skin or body treatments and hydrotherapy sessions… you even have the option of a geisha tub soak. If fitness is your thing, at One Lifestyle there is a spin studio, yoga and pilates studio and group fitness classes as well as indoor swimming pool, two tennis courts and children’s playground for the most active members of the family.
RACV Torquay Resort
1 Great Ocean Road, Torquay VIC
P: (03) 5261 1600
RACV Torquay Resort Stay and Play Package
Overnight luxurious accommodation, full buffet breakfast daily and one round of 18 holes of golf for two including a push buggy each. RACV members benefit with 25 percent off accommodation when booking direct with special rates also for other auto club members.
For more information on a Golfing Great head to Visit Victoria