Barwon Heads Golf Club

Par-three 4th, Barwon Heads – ‘old-world charm’, Brendan James

From the moment you pull up at the car park in front of the Barwon Heads clubhouse, it is as if you have travelled back in time to a more genteel era. The old-world charm is present not only in the architecture of the clubhouse and pro shop. The course itself belongs to another age – an age when golf course designers worked with the land, rather than against it.

Barwon Heads, on the Bellarine Peninsula, a 90-minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD, has been one of the best layouts in Victoria for most of its 103 years. Some of golf’s greats have long been lured to ply their games here, even in the days when reaching the seaside village from the city wasn’t so easy. Ivo Whitton accrued his five Australian Opens and two national amateur titles while he was a member at Barwon Heads. Fellow member Alex Russell won the Open in 1924, two years before becoming a course-design associate of the world renowned Dr Alister MacKenzie and helping him create Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Barwon Heads dates back to 1907. It wasn’t until 1920 that the land where the course lies today was purchased and a design by Victor East, the Royal Melbourne professional, approved. In more recent times, former Eisenhower Cup player Neil Crafter and his associate Paul Mogford have rejuvenated some of the holes. The course now is better than it has ever been – the kind of course you enjoy more and more every time you play here. With each round, you begin to understand the nuances and to realise how ingenious the design really is.

Barwon Heads measures a meagre 5856 metres from the championship tees, yet despite the advances in golfing equipment it remains as challenging today as when Victor East laid out his original creation. Most people would describe it as a links course, but the majority of holes are more reminiscent of those found on Melbourne’s sandbelt. Only the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th holes truly fit Barwon Heads’s links billing. These four holes, situated across a narrow road from the historic clubhouse, are brilliant. The 7th to 18th holes tend to be flanked more by dense ti-tree and the occasional cypress pine. The most memorable hole on the inward nine is also the shortest. The 130-metre 13th is widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest par-threes because of the simplicity of its design. The tee is perched high atop a sand dune, leaving you totally exposed to the elements. On a still day, the green can easily be reached with a short iron. When the prevailing breeze starts to roar, a fairway wood is required. Making par should be simple: there are no bunkers, no watery hazards, just a ti-tree some distance left of the green. But a combination of wind, elevation and poor club selection ensures more bogeys than birdies are scored here.

Memorable holes

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th and 13th

Where to go

Golf Links Rd, Barwon Heads, Victoria 3227

Book a round

(03) 5255 6275

Where to stay

The inviting Barwon Heads clubhouse has 19 bedrooms, with ensuites, available. In keeping with the old-world feel and appearance, gents are asked to wear a jacket and tie in the dining room after 6.30pm and women should dress to an equivalent standard.

Before/after your round

Thrillseekers and aircraft enthusiasts can experience a joy-ride in a supercharged fi ghter plane with Warbird Air Adventures, who operate out of the nearby Barwon Heads Airport.

Nearby Golf Activities

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