The first and 18th as seen from the clubhouse – not many clubhouses have a better view of their golf
I played Commonwealth with David Scaletti – my host and good friend – who happens to be (in my opinion) the foremost golf photographer in the business. The second member of our threesome was Paul Daley – who a writer and editor responsible for the incredible series called Golf Architecture – A Worldwide Perspective. This was a chance to talk and play golf with two very interesting and fun friends.
Commonwealth may not get the attention of courses like Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath or Metropolitan. But I can tell you right now I would recommend anyone travelling to Melbourne include the course in their travels. The green complexes are excellent and the architecture builds as the course unfolds. Once you reach the 8th, you will very glad you came to play Commonwealth.
The 8th green where a ball can be fed in from the left
The opening hole is a real good one, almost reachable and full of options. The members may miss the original (a short and very reachable opener) but the replacement is pretty good too. The first set of holes plays over some gently rolling land with the emphasis being on the approach shots and the green sites. The only hole that lets you down is the 7th, which replaced an excellent short three and just doesn’t fit.
The 8th is where the architectural fun really begins. It’s an excellent hole where players try to hug the fairway bunker to open up the green. The approach can go at the pin or alternately be played with a running approach hit on the left side. The green is magic with some great contour. The 9th manages to upstage the 8th. The tee shot is uphill to a green surrounded in front by bunkers and around back with short grass that falls away in behind. The green itself rolls and undulates to create some wonderful pin positions.
The 9th green, one of two great short par threes
The back nine features the wonderfully difficult 11th hole that doglegs hard against the grade requiring an ideally placed tee shot that flirts with the inside bunkers but still must not be hit through the dogleg and into the tall trees. The approach is played from a draw lie but is real complicated since the green will only accept a faded approach. The long and brutish 12th is a wonderful contrast played from a high tee and out a great green complex. One hole requires extreme precision the next power and confidence – the two are a great pairing back to back. The drivable 14th is similar to the 10th at Riviera. The bunker placement works the same way with the fronting bunkering being the key. The green is set on the exact same angle, but is more narrow and flat in this case.
The 15th is another incredible short three played to a plateau surrounded by bunkers. The 16th has achieved the most fame due to the difficult diagonal tee shot over water, but the real treat is the green itself. The 17th is a short drivable par four with one of the most complicated shots I have enjoyed. The bunker on the left is dead, but missing on the right means bounding down the slope and running down the hill on the right. The key is the green is set on a clever diagonal that requires precision since you never hit into the slope or the fat of the green, everything seems to escape right and off the green due to the angle.
The final hole is a nice finisher with a great green complex that requires the player to play past the clubhouse on the way to the green. Nothing beats the view from the clubhouse up the entire first and down the entire 18th. The setting is a lesson that no architect should miss.