The Vines Resort & Country Club (Lakes course)

The 5th hole at The Vines, Lakes course, Brendan James

Few courses in Australia let you walk in the footsteps of the game’s best players simply by booking a tee time and paying your green fee. The Vines, as the stage for such events as the Heineken Classic, Johnnie Walker Classic and Lexus Cup, has hosted golf’s biggest names of the past 20 years: Norman, Couples, Els, Daly, Langer, Olazabal, Sorenstam. Golf Australia magazine, in its biennial rankings, has rated The Vines as high as No. 1 among the nation’s resort courses. And of the two 18- hole layouts here, it is the Lakes course that so often earns the fondest praise of visiting pros and average golfers alike.

Designed by Graham Marsh and Ross Watson, this par-72 layout traverses stunning, rolling land in Perth’s picturesque Swan Valley, its fairways bordered by tall timbers and native scrub. In the lead-up to the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic vast tracts of ti-tree and other scrub that had become overgrown, detracting from the original design, were cleared. This widened many holes, producing alternative playing lines into greens and revealing several previously hidden water hazards. As a regular host of big events, the course’s condition is as you’d expect it: nothing short of immaculate. Particularly excellent are the huge undulating greens. They may roll faster during a tournament, but for the average player they are still kept at a speed that can be a little scary when you are faced with a long putt that must trickle down a steep tier en route to the cup. The back nine tends to receive most of the accolades, perhaps because it formed the back nine of the composite course used for the Heineken Classic between 1993 and 2001. But the underrated front half also has some fine holes worthy of mention. The 3rd, a 473-metre par-five, is terrific, its fairway narrowing and widening at strategic intervals so that you can’t simply blaze away with the longest clubs in your bag. Four fairway bunkers stand sentry for the last 80 metres to an elevated green perched between grassy hollows left and right.Another good hole is the 179-metre 7th, one of three memorable par-threes on the Lakes course. The green is not deep, so correct club selection is vital if you are to avoid the huge bunker on the right and two smaller traps left.

The inward half consists of a wonderful collection of holes on which a good score can be made as readily as a bad one. Par-fives open and close the back nine, both of them reachable in two shots for long and aggressive hitters. The 470-metre 18th offers the best chance of a birdie, or better. This hole has been the scene of many dramatic tournament finishes, not least the eagle which clinched Kevin Stadler’s Johnnie Walker Classic victory in 2006.

The key to scoring well is to keep your tee shots in play. There are some wonderful driving holes – provided the driver is working well for you. The 11th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes make up a quartet of par-fours that place a premium on strong, accurate driving. While the pros might choose a three-metal from the tee on these tight and twisting two-shotters, there is plenty of temptation for the average player to pull out their driver in the hope of earning themselves a shorter approach shot into The Vines’s trademark massive greens.

Memorable holes

3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th

Where to go

Verdelho Dr, The Vines, WA 6069

Book a round

(08) 9297 0777

Where to stay

The Novotel Vines Resort is situated on site, with more than 100 rooms and 50 condominiums, some of them overlooking the course. Play-and-stay packages are available.

Before/after your round

The Vines is in the heart of the Swan Valley, WA’s oldest wine-growing region, home to several family-run wineries and such famous names as Sandalford and Houghton. If beer is more your drop, there are four award-winning microbreweries in the valley.

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