Moonah Links (Legends Course)

The 15th hole at Moonah Links, Legends course, Brendan James

The Legends course might have been the second course built at Australian golf’s new home, but it was so well received by golfers that today it is regarded as the better of the two. The course officially opened for play in 2004, about three years after the adjoining Open layout, and within a year it had cemented a place among the top five public access courses in the country. It was the first Australian design of Ross Perrett, who at the time was third partner in the successful design team headed by Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge. Perrett’s brief was to create a course that complemented the brutish Open layout by offering a fun and friendly golfing experience. He succeeded on all fronts.

Although the 1st tee is no more than a well-hit seveniron away from the 18th green of the Open course, the Legends course sets out across a vastly different landscape. It begins with a series of parkland-style holes that rise and fall through valleys and between long, dense stretches of ancient moonah trees. The high ground off to the side of these fairways will eventually be dotted with houses overlooking the course. After a while the moonah trees thin out and the course takes on a new complexion. Tall sand dunes and wild, rugged bunkers sit alongside gently rolling fairways, giving rise to a links-style layout. Precious little earth was moved during the creation of the Legends course; it feels as if it has been here for decades. Perrett did a wonderful job in routing the course to follow the roll of the land, sticking to the low ground wherever possible. The bunkers, visually, are both appealing and intimidating, and an interesting feature of the course is its commemoration of past champions. Each hole is named after an Australian Open winner, with the likes of Tom Watson (the 3rd), Greg Norman (4th), Arnold Palmer (6th), Jack Nicklaus (7th) and Gary Player (9th) all represented.

Particularly enjoyable is the variety of holes and the different strategies required to play them well. Each of the par-fives demands a fresh approach, depending on the strength and direction of the wind and the boldness of your play. On the 495-metre 9th, for example, the shortest line to the green is down the right half of the fairway. Yet this is also the most treacherous route. Eight bunkers line the right edge, as the fairway winds its way through a valley between rows of mounds. The green is set in an amphitheatre created by high, deep, grass covered dunes. With the prevailing wind pushing in from the right, smart play rather than brute strength is needed to break par here.

Soon after comes one of the finest short par-fours on the entire peninsula. Named after the great South African golfer Bobby Locke, the 272-metre 11th is reachable from the tee – but wind conditions have to be conducive. Any hint of a southerly breeze will be tempting enough for most long hitters to pull out their driver here. Yet to find the sanctuary of the green, they must first clear four punishing sand traps. A wide fairway lies to the left of the bunkers, making a long iron from the tee followed by a short-iron approach shot the more conservative play. The standard of presentation on both the Legends and Open courses is unforgettable, earning Moonah Links a reputation for some of the best playing surfaces in the country.

Memorable holes

3rd, 4th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 15th and 17th

Where to go

55 Peter Thomson Dr, Fingal, Victoria 3939

Book a round

(03) 5988 2088

www.moonahlinks.com.au

Where to stay

Peppers Moonah Links Resort is an ideal base from which to explore all golf clubs on the Mornington Peninsula. Sixty rooms have views of the course or putting green and 36 luxury suites overlook the Open course.

Before/after your round

Spend a few hours touring the dozens of boutique cellar doors and sampling the region’s famed pinot noir and cool-climate chardonnay. Some wineries, such as Red Hill and The Cups Estate, have terrific restaurants.

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