Woodlands Golf Club

Photo Gallery

Woodlands Golf Course as seen by David Scaletti

Introduction

Introduction to the Course


Adapted from an article by Ian Hibbins (former Manager Woodlands Golf Club) for “Great Australian Golf Courses”, by Tom Ramsay, 1989.

The thunder of thoroughbred hooves and the cry of “4 to 1 the field” by the rails bookmakers were the sounds that often greeted golfers on the second tee of Woodlands in earlier times. Needless to say, the temptation sometimes proved irresistible and play was postponed for 10 minutes to take in the pleasures of the “Sport of Kings” and win or lose the week’s housekeeping money in the process. Or so the story goes!

Epsom Racecourse was a thriving concern in 1913 when the Woodlands Golf Club, or Mordialloc Golf Club as it was then known, was founded on the Mayfield Estate, a very sandy tract of land bordering the Racecourse. Prior to this, the golfers of the district spent their Saturdays hitting a ball about the paddocks on which the Parkdale Railway Station now stands. This makes Woodlands one of the oldest of the sandbelt courses still on its original site. Only Royal Melbourne and Metropolitan are older.

The present 61 hectares (150 acres) was originally part of the Mayfield Estate, owned by Count Fonceca. The land was held under a permissive occupancy agreement for many years and all business was done with the Master in Lunacy, since the owner had been considered of unsound mind since 1901. In fact, the Master in Lunacy and the Inspector General of the Insane were honorary members of the Club. In 1924, a formal lease agreement was signed and it was not until 1935 that the land was purchased outright for 70 pounds per acre.

In the early days, it seems to have been the practice for golf course design to be influenced by the Club Professional. The early holes were set out by the Albert Park Professional, Rowley Banks, and Mr M. Morcom, the Royal Melbourne greenkeeper, was engaged as a consultant to help in their formation and maintenance. Three years later, professional golfer, Mr S. Bennett, laid down the rest of the 18 holes. This was the same man who later set out the original 12 holes at Commonwealth when he was appointed Professional there.

The planning of the present bunker system was carried out by Mr C. Plant, an enthusiastic amateur golfer and designer, and later by visiting Englishman, Mr J.D.H. Scott, whose designs were supervised by the consultant. Mr Morcom was responsible for construction of much of the Royal Melbourne bunkering, using the design work of Dr Alister Mackenzie. The layout of Woodlands today is a far cry from the original portable wire netting “bunkers” which afforded only one means of escape, and that was sideways.

The present Clubhouse is the result of various additions to the basic plan of 1927 when the original house was rebuilt after a disastrous fire. The Club was incorporated under the Companies Act in 1915 and it obtained its liquor licence by taking over the Swifts Creek Clubs licence in 1926 for the sum of 200 pounds.

The layout has remained fairly constant since the late twenties, though the short 11th was added in 1936 to replace the present 19th hole – a par 3, which is no longer used.

The Australian Course rating on the 6111m layout is 72 and the course record is 65. There are many well known names in Victorian and Australian golf, both as players and administrators, who belong to the Woodlands community. There was a time in its history when the Club could boast an Australian Cricket XI amongst its members.

It is really a course in two parts. The first 4 holes require the exact placement of tee shots and a delicate pitch shot to ensure a par. It has been said that one must be at least a couple under after 4 if one is to score well round this course, since most of the following holes provide formidable challenges to a golfer seeking a par round.

Golfers will remember Woodlands because it tests all aspects of their shot-making ability. The greens are small, hard and very fast, the narrow fairways are all pure couch and offer a great surface from which to play and there are many bunkers to overcome, particularly the long bunker shots to pins which always seem too close to the bunker edge. It provides that overwhelming feeling that you have to work the ball around the course, and never, never slog it. It is in fact, the most underrated golf course in Melbourne and only now are golfers becoming aware of the challenges it offers.


Architects

The Early Days
In 1913, the early holes were set out by the Albert Park Professional, Rowley Banks, and Mr M. Morcom, the Royal Melbourne green-keeper, was engaged as a consultant to help in their formation and maintenance. Three years later, professional golfer, Mr S. Bennett, laid down the rest of the 18 holes.
The planning of the present bunker system was carried out by Mr C. Plant, an enthusiastic amateur golfer and designer, and later by visiting Englishman, Mr J.D.H. Scott, whose designs were supervised by the consultant. Mr Morcom was responsible for construction of much of the Royal Melbourne bunkering, using the design work of Dr Alister Mackenzie. The layout of Woodlands today is a far cry from the original portable wire netting “bunkers” which afforded only one means of escape, and that was sideways.

 

Modern Day
Whilst little change has taken place since the final course was officially opened in 1926 by the Prime Minister of the Day, Stanley Bruce, in recent years there has been some minor alterations to areas of the course by local and international golf course architects. Long time member and former Kingston Heath Superintendant, Graeme Grant and his company, Newton Grant and Spencer were consulted for changes that were required from 1987 until 2001. Graeme continued to consult to the Club under his new company Graeme Grant Golf Design from 2002 until 2005. Michael Clayton Golf Design was engaged to assist with works from 2008 until 2011.
World renowned golf course architect Tom Doak and his company Renaissance Golf Design are the Clubs current consulting architects and, as per the Woodlands Golf Course philosophy document, will be engaged prior to any proposed course alterations, other than minor renovations.