13th Beach is a 36-hole development that stretches for two miles along Barwon Heads’ famous surfing beach. Designed by Tony Cashmore, and opened in 2001, it is built on a former asparagus farm and features two diverse and spectacular courses.
The older of the two, the Beach Course, starts by taking golfers in a loop away from the shore and through low-lying farming pastures, before turning seaward at the 5th and heading deep into the rugged sandhills for most of the remaining holes. The 5th tee is the beginning of what 13th Beach has become famous for – wonderful links land. Rolling through a series of dramatic and natural golf holes that look and feel like they were there long before a golf development was planned, it is here that repeat business is garnered: driven by the dunes, and an excellent series of holes within the natural dells, valleys and thick vegetation of the precious coastal area.
Perhaps the key feature of the Beach Course is its wonderful set of par 3’s. Particularly striking are these gorgeous short holes, each framed by messy sand formations and testing a different aspect of your iron play. Despite measuring little more than 100 yards, the 16th is the hardest of these as it is totally at the mercy of the wind and plays to a tiny thumbnail green set on a spur and semi-concealed by a sandy waste foreground. The long 7th and mid-length 12th, with its green squeezed into a natural hollow, are also impressive. While of the longer holes the 3-shot 11th along a ridge, the short par 4 13th and dogleg 17th are very strong and memorable.
Complimenting the raw glamour of the natural landscape and the severity of the coastal winds with generous fairways, large sensible putting surfaces and rugged bunkering, Cashmore managed to create a fine layout at 13th Beach, which rises above the disparity in terrain to sit comfortably within its surrounds. Perhaps these features were the catalyst for a collaboration between several major golfing bodies. 13th Beach has played host to The Victorian Open since 2013, which in more recent years has become a revolutionary tournament that combines European Tour men and LPGA women on the same course, at the same time, for the same prize money.