RACV Cape Schanck Resort

RACV Cape Schanck, 14th tee – ‘chilly south-westerlies’, Brendan James

Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has boomed as a golfing destination during the past 15 years, with some of the finest course designers lining up for a crack at creating a masterpiece on this premium piece of canvas. Any golfer who has visited the area knows why: God surely created the landscape here specifically for golf courses.

Nearly a decade before the boom, American designer Robert Trent Jones Jnr left his imprint on the area, creating what is now known as the RACV Cape Schanck Resort. It is fascinating land. ‘An undulating, emerald oasis,’ was how Jones Jnr described it, ‘carved out of giant sand dunes and ti-tree, and it will take artful playing. It is built on a high plateau of beautiful links land. It is not long. It is designed for skilful players who have to use a great deal of finesse. It is designed to be a fun yet challenging and intricate course.’

Fairways rise and fall violently, quickly, like the unpredictable rapids of a raging river, as they cut through ti-tree and ancient moonah trees. It is hard to believe this land could be the setting for anything but golf. Jones Jnr relies on bunkering, the lie of the land and natural vegetation to create his test. Only once does he use water to make the golfer second-guess their ability to successfully hit the green. The 168-metre, par-three 7th calls for a tee shot that must sail over water for two-thirds of its journey. A bail-out area lies to the right, but this is a narrow strip of land that widens only once it is alongside the putting surface. Jones Jnr resisted any urge to over-bunker the green surrounds, but he did leave two pot bunkers – one to the left, the other long and right – to help defend par. Although Jones Jnr hasn’t overdone his bunkering, there are still more than 70 of them between the 1st tee and the 18th green. Some are small and seemingly innocuous, while others are big enough to warrant a camel escort. All are unique in shape and strategically positioned: with every shot you take from tee or fairway, they make you think. The finest examples of Jones Jnr’s harnessing of nature can be found on the back nine. The 12th, a 344-metre parfour, involves a blind drive over a crest, past a bunker on the left and through a saddle in the fairway. A long iron or fairway wood from the tee will leave you with a flat fairway lie, looking out high above the green, which sits some 150 metres in front and 50 metres below you. Elevation also plays a major part in the design of the par-three 14th and par-four 15th holes. The 14th is not a lengthy test, at only 158 metres from the back tee, which perches high on a hill overlooking a tiered green, the waters of Bass Strait a spectacular backdrop in the distance. But this hole, perhaps more than any other on the course, is susceptible to the chilly south-westerlies that can whip in from the sea. Using a driver from the tee is certainly not unheard of.

The 364-metre 15th calls for sensible strategy from the tee to set up a shot at par. Your drive must find the left half of the fairway if it is to stay on the short grass, for the fairway slopes steeply. It then veers left and rises, past massive bunkers, all the way up to the green, which is surrounded by vast clumps of titree and guarded by two more huge sand traps. The view, again, is spectacular. Although Jones Jnr’s design is first class, Cape Schanck’s owners – the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria – have commissioned Mike Clayton Golf Design to revamp the layout. Given Clayton’s many past successes, the results promise to be outstanding.

Memorable holes

3rd, 7th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th

Where to go

Trent Jones Dr (via Boneo Rd), Cape Schanck, Victoria 3939

Book a round

(03) 5950 8100


Where to stay

The resort has accommodation on site. Stylish rooms, suites and house-size, self-contained villas (with either two or three bedrooms) offer sweeping views of the Southern Ocean. A boardwalk connects all rooms to the resort centre and pool areas.

Before/after your round

For lovers of fine food and wine, the Mornington Peninsula is the home of 175 boutique vineyards and more than 50 cellar doors, many of which offer superb wines (especially pinots) and gourmet dishes with ocean views to match. Nearby galleries, produce makers and historic villages offer more variety and nature-lovers can also enjoy the beautiful coastal views of the Bushrangers Bay Nature Walk.

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