In 2011 Tom Doak (St. Andrews Beach, Barnbougle) was appointed as a consulting architect at Royal Melbourne and his goal was to oversee updates to the course. Not that much was needed to improve on perfection.
Consisting of both the West and East course, how is it possible to improve on a crowning achievement by one of golf's greatest architects? Even if the East Course were to be the only one playable at the club... it would be still ranked as top in the world for its challenge and brilliant design.
With every box checked as to what one looks for in great golf architecture, Royal Melbourne's West Course is well-deserved to have a place in the pantheon of the world's greatest golf courses. The width of the course allows a number of angles to take in order to attack the pin. Combined with the fantastic bunkering and green complexes everything at RMGC can found in its detail, design and care.
"If you miss the fairway you should hand back your PGA membership" - Peter Thomson (referring to the 1st hole on the West Course)
One may play this course many times over and find subtleties of the design which only strengthen its place as top in the world. While many older courses designed at the same time as Royal Melbourne narrowed over time due to maintenance costs, the fairways here have remained wide. Combined with bold and steep bunkering, the course features native grasses and trees that frame each hole.
Although golf course design has been moving back toward leveraging a more natural design and allowing the land to shape the course, there was a time when this was an absolute necessity. Horse-drawn equipment and shovels moved earth where only absolutely required.
A difference between MacKenzie's effort at Royal Melbourne and those he designed in the United States (Pasatiempo, Augusta National, etc) is use of Bermuda grass on the course. Bermuda grass requires a good amount of sun and the temperate climate in the sandbelt, combined with the sand in the soil, provides a great canvas for the combination. How does this affect play? In addition to "feeling" different for shots against the grain versus fescue or bent, the dry climate allows the club to maintain short grass around the greens. Apporaches are shuffled away from the greens where they would be caught by longer stems normally.
6645 yards, designed by the legendary Dr. Alister MacKenize. This course features the perfect combination of strategy and fun to make it playable by players of all handicaps.
- 2018: #6 in the World (Golf Digest)
- 2018: #1 in Australia (Golf Digest)
- 2014: #9 in the World (Golf Digest)
6570 yards, 71 par, designed by Alex Russell. This course has smaller green complexes and one of the greatest finishing holes in golf.
- 2018: #55 in the World (Golf Digest)
- 2018: #7 in Australia (Golf Digest)
- 2014: #28 in the World (Golf Digest)
6th: (Par-3, West Course,425 yards): Although the entire course is a "signature", the 6th on the West Course is widely considered one of the world's greatest golf holes. From a high tee the player is confronted with a choice of driving across the bunkers guarding the corner of the dogleg or playing safely away to the left. The safe drive leaves a long second shot but every yard to the right the longer the carry across the sand and the shorter the approach. The infamous green tilts steeply from back to front and has been known to produce many four-putts.
"It’s the only green I ever four-putted when I was trying on every putt" -Tom Weiskopf
10th: (Par-4, West Course): A massive bunker protects the green and demands much thought as to club selection.
18th: (East): One of the best finishing holes in golf and often determines the winner of tournaments played on the course- either as a composite with the West or alone.