The Sandhurst Club (Champions Course)

The 8th hole at Sandhurst, Champions course, Brendan James

The Champions course at Sandhurst is the latest addition to the Melbourne sandbelt portfolio. Officially opened for play in 2008, it was designed by Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett, the same duo who created the adjoining North layout. The new course sits on more undulating land than its neighbour, resulting in a greater variety of holes and shot demands and making for a more memorable overall experience.

The surrounding residential development is more intrusive here than on the North layout, but the quality of the holes and playing surfaces guarantees a satisfying round. The wide-sprawl bunkering is typical Thomson and Perrett, and it is hard not to be impressed by the size and shaping of the greens. Each hole is dedicated to a past winner of the Australian PGA Championship, with a plaque at every tee commemorating the player with a brief story of their career. The 7th hole is dedicated to Kel Nagle, winner of a record six Australian PGAs, while others immortalised include Craig Parry, Greg Norman, Ossie Pickworth, David Graham and Wayne Grady. The layout is in the traditional sandbelt style, with gentle fairway contours and large open-fronted greens. Ancient red river gums line some fairways. ‘From a design point of view,’ says Perrett, ‘no two holes are the same. It will eventually be seen as a course of endless fascination, with primary hazards dictating play.’

Thomson, ever the strategist on the course, brings the same emphasis to his course design. This becomes clear from the opening shot of the round. The 376-metre, parfour 1st hole, named after three-time PGA winner Carnegie Clark, offers a generously wide fairway for players who resist pulling out their driver and take a fairway metal instead, even though this will leave a longer second shot into the green. The further you drive the ball from the tee, the narrower the cut portion becomes, and the bigger the chance of a bogey after hitting out from the rough.

Smart play is also needed at the short par-four 4th, which appears easy when you are standing on the tee, only for the full extent of the test to become apparent once you head down the fairway. It’s a classic twoshotter, just 337 metres from the back markers, with the two bunkers to the right of the fairway occupying the best line for your drive. Hitting as close as possible to the sand – without actually dribbling into it – puts you in the best spot, whatever the pin position, to tap a short iron on to the green, which angles diagonally away from right to left. A drive down the middle of the fairway, by contrast, leaves you with a tough, obscured second shot over a large bunkered ridge. Eric Cremin, winner of two PGA titles in the 1930s and runner-up a further seven times, would be proud to have his name on this gem.

One of the best holes of all is the shortest, named after the shortest of the PGA champions celebrated here: Norman von Nida. The 138-metre 11th is an uphill and wind-affected par-three, where club selection is crucial to your chances of avoiding the waste bunker in front of the green and the three deep bunkers perched to the right. The green is long and narrow, not unlike the famous 10th hole at Kingston Heath, but without the dramatic slopes off the lips of the bunkers.

Memorable holes

4th, 6th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 16th

Where to go

75 Sandhurst Blvd, Sandhurst, Victoria 3977

Book a round

(03) 8787 7011

www.sandhurst.com

Where to stay

Nearby Frankston and Cranbourne offer plenty of accommodation options.

Before/after your round

Visit the renowned McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, which houses works by Russell Drysdale and Fred Williams.

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