The incredible 16th
It has long been suggested that the best par three at Royal Melbourne is not even part of the Composite course. After seeing the 16th at Royal Melbourne, I think they may be right.
The East Course is often overlooked because of the West Course, but if you see only one of the two courses, you have missed a wonderful golf course well worth including on your travels. The opening four are part of the Composite Course. The highlight for me was the long par four second with a fantastic green site set high up on the hill. The bunkering is exquisite and the shot is one of the tougher ones the player faces. The opening three (4th), is also part of the Composite and is a wonderful uphill hole with a really cool green site. Players coming up short will likely have the ball run down the short grass all the way back into the bunkers. The shot that follows is a nightmare!
The approach shot into the 2nd - re-grassing underway for 2011
The next paddock contains the short par four 5th, the new par three 6th and the 15th coming back. The 5th green was one of my favourite greens with its front to back fall making for a fun and difficult approach shot. The chipping area beyond made for some entertaining options back to the green. The new 6th was fine, but sat much higher than all the other greens, and the 15th was simply narrow and out of character.
The 9th green site - a personal favourite on the trip
The farthest paddock contains the remaining holes. The 7th and 8th were once again surprisingly narrow and felt a little different from the rest of the course. The 9th was an absolute gem of a hole and finished with a truly inspirational green complex. The combination of bunkering and cleverly angled front swale combined to create a spectacular little complex worth emulating.
The 10th looking back
The 10th was super cool. It featured a series of bunkers that angle across the fairway (in the second landing) that continued all the way up to the green creating a fascinating choice for your second shot. I have often employed a version of this and will likely do this one of my fives at most courses I work on. The green was another great one with the drop in the middle and the wonderful roll to the surface.
The 11th and 12th featured a couple of fun dogleg holes that if restored to the old aerial, would be the talk of architects all over the world. The original bunkering was very bold and quite expansive, somewhat like the bunkering at the National in Long Island. The short little 13th was cool but shockingly choked out by trees. The final four was a real solid hole with another interesting slightly elevated green and that finished a wonderful run through the far paddock.
The 16th is part of a really great finishing three. The final hole is a very long par four with great bunkering and a wonderful contoured green. It is also the closing hole for the Composite course and one of the strongest four on the property. The 17th is also part of the composite course and offers set of diagonal bunkers in the second landing to create options for the approach. But the high point is definitely the 16th with the central bunker that bites into the green and divides out the left and right. The hole is pretty much perfect and should somehow be part of the Composite course – and anyones travels to see the courses of Australia.