Port Fairy Golf Club
An endearing quality of the great links layouts of Britain and Ireland is their natural setting. Wild, windswept holes rolling between sand dunes that have stood tall for centuries are the norm. The links of Port Fairy would not be out of place on the east coast of Scotland, or along an isolated beach in north-western Ireland. Instead they lie on a stretch of coastline 300 kilometres west of Melbourne. Routed along rows of unspoilt sand dunes, Port Fairy is a classic links course where no two days are ever the same, thanks to the wind, and where the golf is fun, not brutal.
Port Fairy Golf Club was founded in 1901 and golf has been played on the present site since 1963. For more than 20 years it was a nine-hole layout, before expanding to 18 holes in 1985. In 2000 the club commissioned Mike Clayton to oversee any further changes that might be required. ‘Port Fairy,’ says Clayton, ‘is precious and unique. Nowhere else in Victoria is golf played so close to the ocean or along dune land of such quality. The dunes of Port Fairy have been largely unaltered by man, mown only to define the fairways and rough. It has a wonderful natural feel.’
It also has something of a cult status – and it is easy to see why golfers, from near and far, are inspired to make the journey to this relatively remote par-72 by the sea. Golf aside, several holes offer awesome views of the Southern Ocean, and at the right time of year it is possible to see whales breaching offshore. The front nine holes have been laid among the dunes furthest from the beach and run predominantly north and south. The exception is the 122-metre 8th, a par-three that faces west and where the prevailing southerly winds blow highstruck tee shots to the right of the green and into its two deep bunkers. Port Fairy’s most exciting holes unfold in a single stretch: from the par-five 12th to the par-four 16th. Walking on to the tee of the 465-metre 12th, the ocean comes into view for the first time. It’s a straightforward three-shotter, with the beach out of bounds on the right side and tall marram grass rough to the left. The key here is to keep your shots low, out of the wind, and to not get distracted by the view.
The 408-metre, par-four 14th is the toughest hole. Right of the fairway is out of bounds once again, and when the wind is blowing hard off the sea it is sometimes necessary to hit your drive out over the boundary fence and let the wind propel it to the middle of the fairway. The second shot is breathtaking. Life doesn’t get much better than choosing a club – any of several, depending on the wind strength – and hitting from a downhill lie on to a small green set against a Southern Ocean backdrop.
Hardest of the par-threes is the 178-metre 15th, thanks to a spectacular redesign in 2006 that changed the direction of the hole so that it now runs along the coastline. It proved a masterstroke. As more and more golfers discover the new-look 15th, the bigger its reputation will grow.
Port Fairy welcomes visitors most days. With a green fee under $40 it is the best value golfing experience in Australia.
3rd, 5th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th
Where to go
Woodbine Rd, Rosebrook, Victoria 3285
Book a round
(03) 5568 1654
Where to stay
Port Fairy Golf Club offers a range of stay-and-play packages with nearby bedand- breakfast guesthouses and self-contained apartments.
Before/after your round
If you are driving to or from Melbourne, take the scenic route via the Great Ocean Road. Check out the rugged splendour of the Twelve Apostles – either from one of the many viewing points or by helicopter.
Nearby Golf Activities
- Eynesbury Golf Club
- Portsea Golf Club
- The Sands, Torquay
- Thirteenth Beach Golf Links (Beach Course)
- The Dunes Golf Links
- Barwon Heads Golf Club
- St Andrews Beach
- Thirteenth Beach Golf Links (Creek Course)