Settlers Run Golf & Country Club

Settlers Run, 3rd green – ‘pinpoint accuracy required’, Brendan James

Throughout his playing days Greg Norman drew huge crowds eager to witness his incredible ball-striking. Confidently striding the fairways, his mere presence made him one of the game’s biggest ever drawcards. He brings those same qualities to golf as a course designer, and his burgeoning portfolio of layouts throughout Australia and the world are not unlike the man himself: charismatic and visually striking.

Settlers Run bears all the hallmarks of Norman’s design hand. Especially memorable are the bunkers, as Norman continues his homage to the Dr Alister MacKenzie style of bunkering so prominent on Melbourne’s sandbelt. At Settlers Run the bunkers are deep, especially greenside, and strategically placed. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the course is how much the land rises and falls. From the 2nd tee – probably the highest of several high points – you can look out over the 18 holes and glimpse the Melbourne city skyline some 50 kilometres away. Much of the surrounding area is relatively flat. But the rolling terrain, punctuated with natural ponds and wetlands, was clearly handpicked for this project. It offers a good variety of uphill, downhill and side-hill lies, fitting in well with what Norman calls his ‘least-disturbance approach’ to course design: ‘Our design team puts a lot of time and effort into finding the most desirable natural features of a site, and incorporates them into the routing. Streams, rock features, vegetation and undulating topography are a few natural elements that can provide a course with its own unique feel.’

As might be expected of a course designed by one of the best drivers of a ball that the game has seen, Settlers Run boasts some fantastic driving holes. A run of five par-fours, from the long 3rd hole onwards, allows you to pluck the longest club out of your bag without too much trepidation. The 3rd, at 429 metres from the championship pegs, is arguably the best of the quintet, its downhill fairway adding a few more valuable metres to your tee shot. This extra length, though, can bring a lone trap on the right edge of the fairway into play. Your long approach shot to a narrow green must be pinpoint accurate, with deep bunkers lining the right side of the putting surface.

The next four holes offer good scoring opportunities if you can stay out of the bunkers, particularly those beside the 4th green, as well as the water hazards right of the 5th hole and to the left of the 6th fairway.

Another impressive feature of Settlers Run is the variety of its par-threes, of which there are only three. All of them head towards different points of the compass, meaning they will never play the same as each other on any given day. The best is the shortest, the 149-metre 11th, where your tee shot is played across a gully and on to a huge green flanked to the left by an equally massive scheme of rough-lined bunkers. The bunker work here is the finest on the course. A row of tall pines right of the green frame the hole beautifully, and it would be a shame if it was ever decided to remove these, for they certainly add to the hole’s appeal.

Settlers Run, managed by Troon Golf, is the centrepiece of a $300 million residential development. It is a members’ course and offers a limited number of tee times for interstate and overseas golfers.

Memorable holes

2nd, 3rd, 5th, 11th, 13th and 17th

Where to go

1 Settlers Run, Botanic Ridge, Victoria 3977

Book a round

(03) 9785 6072

Where to stay

Settlers Run is 20 minutes’ drive from bayside Frankston. Several motels lie within walking distance of the beach, including the recently refurbished Frankston International Motel.

Before/after your round

Frankston’s long, wide, safe beaches are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailboarding and yachting. The foreshore reserves are great for picnics and barbecues.

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