Recently, myself and three fellow golf fans set ourselves the arduous task of playing the top four golf courses on the Bellarine Peninsula and then documenting our experiences… hard work, I know, but someone’s got to do it.
Each course has its own unique feel and a collection of signature holes that are etched in our brains' ‘happy place’. By the time we had finished this golfing crusade, it was probably inevitable that the same question dawned on all four of us in freakish unison: how good would it be to combine the best holes of all five courses and make one Bellarine Dream Course?
So after finishing up with an early morning hit at Portarlington, we thought why not? A 15-minute drive brought us to our favourite winery spot – Basil’s Farm in Queenscliff – and together we played fantasy course designer over a crafted beer or a silky red wine.
Okay, maybe it was two or three beverages, as we each made our case for the holes we birdied over the past few days, and squashed those we double bogeyed. We placed some parameters on our creation. Our dream course had to have at least three holes from each course, and the make-up had to be a traditional par 72 - four par 3s, four par 5s and 10 par 4s.
We would highly (and I mean, highly) recommend you trying this yourself, for there aren’t many places where you will find a cluster of five public-access courses with this character and quality.
Holes - 3rd (par 4), 4th (par 3), 5th (par 5), 13th (par 3), 18th (par 4)
The 3rd and 4th holes are laid out on a part of the course where the adjacent Bass Strait is so close you can’t help but just stop and thank god for inventing this game. The par 3 4th hole has a view of the coastline so good you don’t even want hit your shot, and then when you step up on the next tee, the 5th, you look down to the most wide-open, feel-good tee shot... and suddenly you’re desperate to have honours. The 13th is another par 3 that some judges with an eye for detail better than mine rate as one of the best in Australia – and it’s not hard to see why. And then, fittingly, your final swing is maybe the most pleasurable where the picture perfect Heritage-listed clubhouse provides a backdrop that makes you feel like you’re walking up the 18th hole of a British Open.
Holes – 4th (par 5), 16th (par 3)
There is a reason the course is re-routed for the Vic Open to make the 4th the tournament’s finishing hole. A good drive allows you to reach in two, but if your second is not struck solid, then all sorts of trouble comes into play. The 11th is included because every course needs that one brute of a hole you dread for the whole round, but also get so much satisfaction if you conquer. This one takes five good shots just to par, but you can easily double that. The 16th is the signature hole of the whole estate – you only need a wedge, but the green is practically a postage stamp green, so it’s got to be one of your best.
Holes – 8th (par 4), 9th (par 4), 13th (par 4)
Playing the back-to-back par 4s at the 8th and 9th is about when you start to fall in love with 13th Beach. These two holes offer classic risk-reward options, with a tricky water hazard coming into play off the tee on the 8th and a precision approach needed to hit a very linksy green complex on the 9th. The 13th is another short-ish par four that is unique for a lone tree stuck in the middle of the fairway that forces you to devise a plan and commit.
Holes – 1st (Par 5), 3rd (par 4), 9th (par 4),
It’s such a momentous way to start a round, the 1st hole here, walking up a steep hill to play what seems like a bombs-away tee shot, but so often can leave you scrambling not to ruin your day before it started. The 3rd is my favourite kind of hole – a short, curving dogleg where you start high and can go for the green to a downhill complex with lots of tricks and sharp drop offs. The 9th hole offers a seemingly can’t miss uphill approach where you can take more club than you need into a back slope and then just watch the magic happen.
Holes - 10th (par 4), 12th (par 4), 17th (par 3)
The 10th hole has an almost Augusta-feel, so lush green and tree-lined, while the 12th wouldn’t be out of place on Melbourne’s sand-belt. The 17th, though, is the one the members love: a pretty little par 3 with a tough water carry and gnarly green that can break your heart just before you reach the clubhouse.