Huntingdale Golf Club

Huntingdale, 18th hole – ‘beware the approach cross-bunker’, Brendan James

Huntingdale – Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath aside – is arguably the most famous of Melbourne’s sandbelt courses, home to the Australian Masters for 30 years. A parade of the game’s best players trod Huntingdale’s fairways in pursuit of the gold Masters jacket: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods. It was Norman, the unofficial King of Huntingdale, who proved most successful, winning six times.

This sense of history means there is more to a round at Huntingdale than simply pitting your skills against the course, which was extensively remodelled in recent years by the design team of Jack Newton, Graeme Grant and John Spencer. As you make your way around the layout, memories of great Masters moments can be relived – and, perhaps, emulated.

Many of the most memorable holes are on the inward nine. The turn for home starts at the short par-five 10th, where longer hitters can easily reach the green in two. At 453 metres, the 10th has launched many players on a run to the top of the leaderboard. Yet it has also claimed its share of victims. Anything other than a good drive here is penalised, but if you find the fairway a long iron or fairway metal is all that may be required to reach the well-bunkered green.

The first par-three on the back nine, the 161-metre 12th, is a bit of a sleeper hole. Lined by tall trees along both sides for the first 100 metres, getting a read on the breeze can be tough here, making club selection crucial. The subtle undulations of the putting surface are an oasis compared with what lies in wait should you miss the green – any of seven bunkers. It was here, in 2001, that up-and-coming pro Nathan Green got his club selection right and picked up a hole-in-one cheque for $500,000. At 555 metres from the championship markers, the par-five 14th is one of the longest holes in Australian tournament golf. For the average golfer it’s a genuine three-shotter, and you are unlikely to repeat the past heroics of Norman or Woods. In his first Masters appearance in 1997, Woods made the green in two shots, twice – once with a driver and two-iron, then with a three-wood-two-iron combination. The slight double-dogleg 14th has been the scene of many remarkable feats over the years. Norman set up two of his six Masters victories here, hitting driver-driver in clutch situations to reach the green in two and make eagle. But to walk away with par or better, there is no need for anything so brazen. The ideal play is to find the left of the fairway off the tee and then hit a mid-iron, setting up an easy wedge to a green guarded front and right by sand. The 410-metre, par-four 18th is one of the best and most famous closing holes in Australian golf. Excellent bunkering left of the fairway makes it a treacherous driving hole. A driver to the right half of the fairway, leaving a long to mid-iron approach to the green, is the smartest play. Club selection is vital, and can differ by three to four clubs depending on the placement of the pin. Some players may also be deceived on distance by the approach cross-bunker. It was here in the 1999 Masters that a young Craig Spence, tied for the lead with Norman, rifled a six-iron to within a metre of the hole and birdied. Norman couldn’t match it, and Spence collected his first winner’s cheque.

Huntingdale is a private members’ club, but interstate and overseas visitors who are members of a golf club can apply for a tee time through the general manager.

Memorable holes

1st, 5th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th

Where to go

Windsor Ave, South Oakleigh, Victoria 3167

Book a round

(03) 9579 4622

www.huntingdalegolf.com.au

Where to stay

Dingley International Hotel is located less than 10 minutes’ drive south of Huntingdale, in the heart of the Melbourne sandbelt.

Before/after your round

Spend an hour or two flicking through golf books (and others) at Readings bookshop on Glenferrie Rd, Malvern. Australia’s largest independent bookseller, it has a wide range of titles not found elsewhere.

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