Located in the middle of the Mornington Peninsula’s Cups Region, St Andrews Beach was designed by Tom Doak, a doyen of 21st century golf architecture. His minimalist design philosophy combined perfectly with the pristine St Andrews Beach landscape and the ensuing design is a sublime golfing experience. Since its opening in 2005, fellow designer Mike Clayton has collaborated further with Doak to fine tune this links masterpiece.
Though many links courses threaten with the thought of malicious winds and hindered play, the abundance of native trees and valleys across the course at St Andrews Beach allow a welcomed reprieve from the elements. Gorgeous greens, ample width in fairways and the audible roar of nearby water combine with the fertile sandy soil of the Cups Region to produce a year-round world-class golfing experience.
Tom Doak knew he was onto a good thing as soon as he laid eyes on the St Andrews Beach site. In his own words: “We moved almost no earth on the fairways here – the contours of the land are just the way they’ve always been… What I really like about this site, apart from the contour and how the holes just fit the ground, is that the property is broken up into differently scaled sections. There are places where you are looking over 3 or 4 holes from a high point, and there’s places where you are down in a narrow valley and you’re only seeing the hole you’re on. There is a lot of variety visually. As soon as I saw the property, I knew it would be great for golf.”
The opening at St Andrews Beach commences via one of the layouts most elevated locations, a par 5 of medium length that is renowned for its hidden and thought-provoking green. Temptation is the order of the day at the driveable par 4 2nd, sitting adjacent to an exposed sand dune it could be the standout hole. Its fairway glides gently left toward a sandy wasteland and the alluring green sits in a shallow clearing. Also of note is the pretty, short (169-metres) 6th hole. Don’t be put off by the spiteful looking bunkers embedded in the landscape. Just take a deep breath, an extra club and unleash toward the incredible concave green.
More highlights include the ruthlessly domed 9th putting surface, the robust par 4 12th and the 18th which represents about as fine a closing hole as you will encounter in Australia. At the tee you’ll likely be bolstered by trailing winds – Doak entices you to go for one last fearless tee shot. If you can access the right side of the fairway your reward is more roll and a short iron approach. A more conservative route to the left, however, enables you to use the contours of the green to funnel the ball close. The final green is a Doak masterpiece – a truly memorable finish en-route to the 19th.
One of the best features of St Andrews Beach Golf Course is the constant variation. It has been designed by Doak to be a challenging test that still offers scoring opportunities to players with higher handicaps. The greens are particularly good and Doak considers them amongst the best he has created, mainly due to the existing landform shapes being very easy to contour. In perfect harmony, these natural targets are superb and offer up a great variety of short game opportunities.
St Andrews Beach can almost be considered a work of art rather, in addition to its achievement in golf course architecture and it is an essential component of any Mornington golf itinerary.