Staying at Victoria Golf Club is the perfect reminder why it’s always good to try something different.

There’s something compelling about an old-fashioned golf club.

You know the ones – you’ve seen them on TV and at the movies with their thick embroidered carpets, the ornate cabinetry full of trophies and heavy, robust staircases creaking to undisclosed lands. It’s rarified air, where members preface sentences with pursed lips and have impressive noses so they can look down upon the non-members.

That’s in the movies, anyway.

Years ago, my grandfather invited me to such a club for lunch. It was his golf club.  I was 18 or 19 and he said, “Come and have lunch with a couple of the lads. We can play after.”

Knowing it was a big deal, I fronted up on the Sunday fashionably hungover in my very best green, soft-collared Country Road polo shirt and black pants for lunch and a game. The gasp was audible as I walked into the dining room.

Pop was on my elbow guiding me into a U-turn before I’d made it anywhere near the buffet with the smoked cod and oysters Kilpatrick. “Good God, son. Where’s your jacket and tie?”

Ah, yes, I thought. My jacket and… And here I was thinking it would be enough to front up in my very best black pants that I wore as a silver service waiter at the Arts Centre the night before.

Past the door to the dining room and out of the glare, he asked the manager if there was a jacket and tie I might be able to “use” for the luncheon. The manager nodded and returned with a purple jacket and a yellow tie.

“Perfect,” said Pop. “You look like a club man.”

It didn’t matter that my tie kept working its way north of my soft-collared polo shirt, or that I was wearing five different and sartorially opposed colours. What mattered was that I was adhering to the rules – simple, eh? That one Sunday lunch and golf turned into many – and they remain some of my fondest grandfatherly memories.

Since then, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to spend much time in those kinds of places. There have been the very odd games at places like Royal Sydney, The Australian and Kingston Heath, where you get a glimpse of the rich mahogany, but it’s not like my monthly lunches with Pop, where I was lucky enough to suck it all in.

So you can imagine my delight at the offer to visit Victoria Golf Club recently.

Right in the middle of the world-renowned Victorian Sandbelt, literally across the road from Royal Melbourne and around the corner from Kingston Heath, Huntingdale and Metro, Victoria is rated the third-best golf course in the most decorated patch of golfing real estate in the country.

Victoria Golf Club is both sublime and historic. Founded in 1908, the course has the magic hand of Dr Alister Mackenzie amongst its architects and the clubhouse has managed to hang on to it’s ‘old school cool’ while the clubs around it have forsaken theirs for bigger, bolder and newer versions.

What Victoria offers which makes it truly unique is the chance to stay and play.

You can be a house guest and meander from the dining room, to the members bar, to the Bachli-Thomson room honouring two of the great members – five-times British Open Champion Peter Thomson and 1954 British Amateur Champion Doug Bachli. It’s brilliant. It really is.

There are numerous trophy cabinets, of course, and historic photos on the walls and championship golf cards. But best of all was this magnificent crystal glass whiskey decanter with a little bronze golfer atop a collection of slabs of wood. It would have begun life as one ornately carved piece of wood, but time and many, many holes-in-one had transformed it into this behemoth of a trophy. Oh, how I yearned to be part of a trophy like that.

We dined in The Rotunda, wearing mandatory jackets but not ties – I thought of Pop and how moments like these are increasingly rare. The food was magnificent, the staff friendly and the wine list incredibly good value. Before heading up to bed, we sat in the ageless bucket leather seats for a cleanser, absorbing the rich history that hung in the air around us. Upstairs, Victoria Golf Club has 15 rooms in varying configurations, all with ensuite facilities. Fifteen rooms, I thought. You could organise the mother of all golfing trips with 15 rooms. You could stay here and use it as a launching pad to take on the entire sandbelt.

Victoria Golf Club Lounge
Victoria Golf Club Lounge

Spread out on my towel on the bed was soap, shampoo – and Victoria golf tees. It was the funniest thing because I needed tees – but I also loved the detail.

I was becoming increasingly comfortable in preparation to take on Victoria. It’s not as if the course is easy; at almost 6,300 metres with a “horror” of bunkers to navigate, it’s ranked No.11 in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses.

Victoria Golf Club really is an experience to be savoured and shared. When you visit, there are moments that will flaw you … like the imposing entry, the quality of the food and the service, and the golf course. But there are other, more subtle flavours at play here. They’ll remind you why it was a good idea to try something different … to grab your closest golfing friends and stay just off the beaten track, but still in the true golfing heart of the sandbelt. It’s not just the course or the welcoming members, it’s little things like the tees in the towel with the soap and the shampoo.

It’s the driveway to the clubhouse. It’s the bunkers and the greens and the fact that you can soak up 100-year-old history while making some of your own.

Victoria was a golfing revelation, and proof that old school is definitely still cool.

Suitable for conferences and golf trips, Victoria Golf Club accommodation packages start from $230 per room. For booking enquiries, call (03) 9584 1733.