RACV Healesville Country Club

RACV Healesville, 8th green – ‘undulating and fearsome’, Brendan James

Of the 120 golf courses featured throughout these pages, the new layout at Healesville is the odd one out. It could, in fact, be considered a minnow among giants, for this par-68 measures only 4872 metres from the back markers. But Healesville doesn’t aspire to be anything other than an incredibly enjoyable course for golfers of all standards.

The course reopened for play in late 2009 after a complete redesign by Mike Clayton, part of the country club’s $85 million redevelopment. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, on the edge of the picturesque Yarra Valley, the course traverses some undulating terrain. Tall timbers line the fairways and two snaking creeks come into play on several holes. ‘We had the chance to build a really fun, short course,’ says Clayton, ‘where even the best players could enjoy some interesting and difficult tee shots, as well as a variety of other stimulating challenges around the greens.’ To that end, every green and tee was ripped up and rebuilt. About 35 dramatic, sandbelt-style bunkers were added. The routing was left the same but the layout – incredible to say, in this age of distance-driven course construction – was trimmed by more than 500 metres. Length is certainly not an issue at Healesville, and that is one of its enjoyable aspects. Players can call on a wide range of clubs in plotting their way round the 18 holes. Strategically, it’s testing: the fairways are wide but merely finding the short grass from the tee doesn’t always get the job done, if you are looking to make par or better. Healesville’s biggest challenge comes on and around the greens, some of the wildest in the country. Ridges, swales, tiers and plateaus – as well as the flag position of the day – dictate what strategy needs to be employed from as far back as the tee. The underlying challenge on every hole is to leave yourself the best possible approach into the green.

The course opens with a trio of gentle holes. Then the fun begins. The 176-metre 4th is a wonderful downhill par-three where a tier runs through the heart of the green, from front to back, dividing the putting surface into a lower-left and upper-right section. If your tee shot finishes on the wrong level a three-putt is almost assured. As you’d expect on such a diminutive layout, the two par-fives are short and easily reached in two shots. But for excitement value, the 423-metre 8th and 421-metre 15th holes rate highly. From the elevated 8th tee, the hole descends past a huge bunker to the right, only to be cut short by a narrow creek meandering diagonally through the fairway. Although another short stretch of fairway sits beyond the water, most players will set their sights on hitting the creekside green in two shots. It is easily the most undulating and fearsome green on the course, with three distinct sections created by two L-shaped tiers. Even if you avoid the massive bunker on the left and the creek to the right, any par here is a hard-earned one. Another creek imposes itself on the 15th, virtually zigzagging its way down the left half of the fairway before turning slightly right, cutting the fairway in two and nestling in close to the edge of the putting surface. Players driving near the edge of the creek get the best approach into the green, which has two clear-cut sections, the result of a deep hollow running from left to right through the middle. In terms of risk-and-reward strategy, these two par-fives are first class. Healesville is a facility for RACV members and their guests. Members of reciprocal interstate and overseas clubs are also welcome.

Memorable holes

4th, 5th, 8th, 12th, 15th, 16th and 18th

Where to go

Yarra Glen Rd, Healesville, Victoria 3777

Book a round

(03) 5962 4899

www.racv. com.au/healesville

Where to stay

The newly refurbished Healesville Country Club has 80 well-appointed rooms with views over the course or surrounding ranges.

Before/after your round

Visit Healesville Sanctuary wildlife park, home of platypuses, koalas, Tasmanian devils, lyrebirds, wombats, kangaroos and echidnas.

Nearby Golf Activities

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