The Sands, Torquay

The Sands, Torquay, par-five 3rd, Brendan James

Sands by name . . . Sands by nature. It doesn’t take long to figure out the overwhelming feature of a round at Torquay. Standing on the 1st tee of this Stuart Applebydesigned layout, a blanket of white is laid out in front of you. In the distance, beyond the green, you can make out the flag for the 2nd hole, and it is as if nearly every inch of ground in between is filled with a bunker. This is not quite so; there is more space between the hazards than at first you suspect. Several bunkers have actually been removed from the original design. The course opened for play in 2004, and the 138 bunkers initially planned by Appleby were reduced to 125. This was to enhance the course’s linksstyle characteristics, to encourage a ‘ground game’ rather than shots played exclusively in the air and over sandy hazards. Appleby’s design team – which included 200-course veteran Brit Stenson from International Management Group Design – was undoubtedly influenced by the bunker work of Dr Alister MacKenzie on the Melbourne sandbelt. This is evident not only in the bunkers themselves but in the air of deception they instil in your mind. The aforementioned opening tee shot is a case in point: it looks far more intimidating than it is. As you stand at the top of this 357-metre par-four, there seems to be absolutely no landing area for your drive. A quick glance at the course guide tells you there is actually plenty of room between the bunkers left and right. But a distant greenside trap to the right of the putting surface fills the visual void between the fairway bunkers; the ‘dead’ ground cannot be seen from the tee, and you are tricked into thinking there is nothing but sand strewn across the fairway. The front nine certainly stimulates the senses. But it is the back nine that really fires up the excitement levels. There is not a weak hole on the homeward trek, and the stretch of holes from the par-four 11th to the par-four 15th is particularly magnificent. At 434 metres from the back pegs, the 11th is the longest two-shotter on the course, although thankfully it usually plays downwind. Set on the edge of the dunes, this is a beautifully designed hole. Heading gently uphill past a small outcrop of moonah trees, the fairway splits around a natural slope and an ideal spot to carve out some bunkers. Knowing which club to choose for your second-shot approach is difficult, because the putting surface is quite deep and you cannot see the bottom of the flag. The best par-three at The Sands is the shortest: the 153-metre 13th. Club selection is problematic once again, for the green is perched high above the tee and on a ridge, and although it slopes markedly from back to front most of it cannot be seen. The 401-metre, par-four 14th is one of the most beautiful holes, laid out on land that was formerly part of the Torquay rubbish tip. Seven bunkers are ready to halt your progress along the fairway, which is set on the edge of a ridge and features a steep slope down off its right edge. The putting surface is set carefully on a side-slope, and trouble is inevitable for mishits right or long of the green. The Sands is a private members’ course. Access is available for guests staying at the adjoining Peppers Resort, as well as for interstate and overseas visitors by prior arrangement.

Memorable holes

3rd, 5th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th

Where to go

2 Sands Blvd, Torquay, Victoria 3228

Book a round

(03) 5264 3307

Where to stay

Peppers Resort overlooks the course and has 112 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites with balconies.

Before/after your round

Torquay has long been associated with surfing. All the big-name retailers and manufacturers can be found at Surf City Plaza, which is also home to Surf World Museum, the world’s largest museum devoted to surfi ng and beach culture.

Nearby Golf Activities

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