Peninsula Country Golf Club (North Course)

Peninsula, North course, 14th hole, Brendan James

Although the Peninsula Country Golf Club boasts a history dating back to the 1920s, the two courses that now lie across its sandy landscape did not come into being until decades later. Both the North (opened in 1967) and South (1969) layouts were designed by Sloan Morpeth, the man who 30 years earlier had virtually rebuilt Commonwealth Golf Club – so considerable sandbelt blue blood went into their creation. The South course was longer, spread across rolling terrain, and from the back markers it posed a sometimes unforgiving challenge. The North course was routed across more dramatic topography, and it was here that Morpeth weaved in some unorthodox design elements and let his creative juices flow.

Thirty years of growth changed the character of both courses, and in 2000 Mike Clayton was commissioned to come up with a masterplan for revitalising them. The North layout was completed in 2006 and has flourished in the national course rankings ever since, recently reaching an all-time high of No. 19. All of the greens and some of the bunkers were rebuilt. But it was the removal of overgrown ti-tree and coastal wattle that exposed the best of what this undulating land has to offer. ‘It was a pleasure,’ says Clayton, ‘working in such a perfect golfing environment: large-scale undulations, fine grey sands reminiscent of the sandbelt, beautiful indigenous heaths. The North course, I think, is played over the finest golfing terrain in Victoria outside Royal Melbourne.’

To maximise the variety, Clayton tweaked the routing, establishing some new holes on the back nine while also adding native scrub, sandy wastelands and some deftly placed sandbelt-style bunkers. He built on the philosophy behind Morpeth’s original creation: that length is never really a factor, it is strategy that is paramount. Most holes offer players several options, depending on their level of ability and the strength and direction of the wind. The four par-threes are a highlight. Perhaps the best of them comes early in the round at the 161-metre 2nd, which bears a striking resemblance to the world-class 5th hole at Royal Melbourne’s West course. It unfolds across a wasteland valley towards a green cut into the opposite hill. Bunkers right and left, and sandy wasteland through the back, conspire with the steep-sloping green-front to place a premium on club selection. Even if you do choose the correct club, your tee shot must be well struck to avoid pitching short and rolling back down the brief strip of a fairway.

A feature of Clayton’s work here – as at other major redesigns of his, including Lake Karrinyup, The Grange and The Lakes – is the bunkering. He is not afraid of intimidating or deceiving players with a wide range of bunker shapes, and their placement is carefully thought out, rewarding players who risk taking them on with an aggressive play and succeed. On the 13th, for instance, a 309-metre par-four, several options are presented from the tee. The best playing line, leaving a clear approach into a green angled left to right, is the left edge of the fairway. But sitting right where you want to hit your drive, 217 metres from the back tee, is a bunker. Players who flirt with the sand yet avoid it are rewarded with the perfect position for their approach shot. Those who play it safe and stick to the right half of the fairway are left with a tough second shot from a bad angle into a two-tiered green.

Memorable holes

2nd, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th and 15th

Where to go

211–279 Skye Rd, Frankston, Victoria 3199

Book a round

(03) 9789 2222

www.peninsulagolf.com.au

Where to stay

Peninsula Country Golf Club has stylish on-site accommodation. Reciprocal and non-members may reserve rooms with a letter of introduction from their home club. Play-and-stay packages are available.

Before/after your round

Drop a fi shing line into Port Phillip from one of the piers that dot the shore north and south of Frankston. Fishing charters also depart from nearby Patterson Lakes Marina.

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