The Barwon Heads Golf Club (founded in 1907) moved to its present home, alongside the coastal dunes of the Bellarine Peninsula, in 1921. A links designed by Royal Melbourne professional, Victor East, and built using horses to plough the hand-planted fairways, tees and greens.
Situated only metres from Victoria’s roaring Surf Coast, with the frequently snarly weather conditions, Barwon Heads is a course reminiscent of famed Irish or Scottish links. The salt breeze blowing over the natural contours of the course and its immaculate greens will have you swear you’re on one of the UK’s elite courses. The undulating terrain, in harmony with the natural features of the land will ensure that you will remember quality time spent at Barwon Heads.
While not especially long, the layout will test golfers of all standards with strategically positioned hazards, subtle slopes and greens, along with challenging tee positions. The ever-present wind ensures that the course rarely plays the same way twice in one week.
Encompassing two differing landscapes, the final 12 holes at Barwon Heads are routed among tight coastal tea-tree, while the opening 6 head out across a classic piece of exposed links land. Built within a stone’s throw of the ocean and adjacent to the seaside sandhills, these opening holes are premium, particularly the right-bending 3rd, with its fairway set diagonally across the tee and played over an enormous sandy waste area. Generally heading into the prevailing south-west winds, the inclination is to attempt heroic carry over the wasteland to shorten the approach into an elevated green. The next 2 tees offer great views down the Barwon Coast while the 6th heads back toward the clubhouse and a typically British green guarded by rough covered hillocks. The remaining holes are a little more demanding from the tee as the bouncy fairways feature the same natural contours, but with tighter and more severe rough areas. The highlight of the back nine is the famous par 3 13th. Its tiny green is bunker-less but enclosed by diabolical undulation and totally exposed to the elements. Recently Golf Digest added this hole to its list of “Most Iconic Holes”.
Barwon Heads is a fabulous example of the sort of classic course that technology is supposedly rendering obsolete. Played with the best and most recent equipment and without the predominately stiff coastal breezes, the track seems short, open and relatively straightforward. That said, such conditions are very rare for these parts and applying your skills against this natural golf course and scrapping for pars on seemingly defenceless holes is surprisingly memorable and satisfying.
The links at Barwon Heads regularly rates in Australia’s top golf courses and is a mainstay in the top 10 rated public access courses in the country. This is classic ‘old school’ and if you love to play the game in its purest form amongst relatively treeless terrain, don’t miss the opportunity presented here!