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Matthew Mollica

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Mornington Peninsula Courses
« on: April 06, 2003, 03:08:43 AM »

Golf course design is influenced by a number of different elements. Trends in design come and go with different eras. Architects are influenced by the terrain for the project, the budget, the expectations from the club, the country where they are building the course, the architects country of origin, etc.

Having said this, there tends to be a regional style in most golf precincts that creates an identity for that region. For example, if someone describes
a course as a Scottish links, American resort, or a Melbourne sand belt course, a style comes to mind immediately.

What is a Mornington Peninsula course? I am interested in your opinion as to which, if any course, best represents the region.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"The truth about golf courses has a slightly different expression for every golfer. Which of them, one might ask, is without the most definitive convictions concerning the merits or deficiencies of the links he plays over? Freedom of criticism is one of the last privileges he is likely to forgo."


Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2003, 06:57:57 AM »
Great question, and the jury is out.

There are dunesland courses (far preferable term than the not quite correct "links"), which are becoming more prevalent than other types. perhaps to the point of being the signature style.

But what style term would you give the Portsea and Sorrento tracks? And what of Eagle Ridge departing from an attempted natural dunesland (because it was a competitive style for the area) to a more parkland style?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2003, 06:05:01 AM »
The sandbelt grew out of a common desire  by far sighted people in the 20's to play on great golf courses. Every club of the sandbelt moved from a bad location to a fantastic one.
There area few who ought to be looking at the same thing now but it's so difficult because the spirit of the twenties is gone.
Mackenzie and Morcom were the dominant influences and the courses reflected that - bunkering,lots of great medium lenght par threes ,many fantastic 300 yard par foursand par fives between 490 and 520 yards The land was relativly flat -excepting RM.
The peninsula is different.
Sorrento - old money and big TWP influence.Hilly ,short and treated by the members as a holiday course.
Portsea 9 holes originally then 12 then finally 18 by Sloan Morpeth -bunkers altered by Bruce Grant in 1990's to reflect style of sandbelt.Has had to survive financially by improving a basic layout on terrific land.Also it's semi-public.
National old -Trent- Jones -big rolling greens, bunkers by Grant again  (although he gets no credit for some terrific work)- real estate deal and a new club
Moonah - Norman with Irish inspired bunkers - big and hard but still rolling dunes
Ocean - TWP with their bunkering that is so different from anything else in the state.
So, 3 courses with entirely different bunkers that all feel different.
Moonah Links -TWP again and the same as the Ocean.
Rosebud - flat front nine and rolling back.Really underrated with some good holes.
The peninsula is usually windy and every course has big  undulation changes but there is no continuity of design like because there have been so many different influences.
Eagle Ridge 'American style resort course'
Doesn't count.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2003, 08:44:59 PM »
I like the term "dunesland". As you rightly say the term "links" is widely misused.

The MP has an astounding array of golf courses for all types of players and preferences. Being from Sydney I am very envious of the variety and accessibility to such courses.

Whilst they lack the histroty of the "sandbelt" courses I see a number of them becoming as highly rated over the next 20 years.

I note in Mike Clayton's response no critique of The Dunes (I think the 9 holer is a better course than Eagle Ridge). I'd be interested to read his thoughts on the steady increase of courses on the Bellarine Peninsula as well. I liked 13th Beach and will intersted to play in few years with more maturity. I thought the area I could easily see for the Faldo course looked less than inspiring.

Also what is the general consensus on the TWP courses at National and AGU sites? I thought both were quirky to say the least! The stated idea in guide books, videos etc seem to be lost on me some of the false fronts/collection areas around a number of the greens were nothing like the "classic" British/Irish links cousres that I so love to play (I played two holes at Moonah Links where it seemed the ball could roll back 30-75 metres).

Any news on new courses (St Andrews Beach) in the area/s that us poor NSWelshman don't hear about?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2003, 09:18:29 PM »
My feeling is that a common theme linking most of the newer courses down there is disappointing.  Given the great land that most of them are built on, it is a shame that no one has managed to build a "great course".  Courses like The Dunes and National original and Moonah are all great tracks to play, but really should have been so much better.  Then we have the TWP tracks, which no one seems to like much and are definitely a massive waste of the land.  I would have that that if the Mornington Peninsula is to become an international golf tourist destination, it would need to be building courses much better than those being built now.  Hopefully St Andrews Beach will push it in the right direction.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2003, 09:20:50 PM »
I knew I had forgotten something !
The Dunes is on the same undulating land but with bunkering by Barry Hudson who was taught by Graeme Grant.Different again .
It was a public course by Colin Campbell originally but they added nine extra holes -about - and turned the original front seven into 9 for beginners and kids . Great idea.
Some very good holes 5,8,12,13,17. And a few that don't work as well -6,9,7,16.
People love it though because it was the first truly public course that took golfers seriously.And it's half the price of Moonah Links which is half a mile away.

St Andrews Beach is going to be the best course down there because it has a bunch of great holes just waiting to be built.
I took one of Tom Doak's associates over it last weekend and he can't wait to get back to work there.Actually all 18 on the Gunnamatta course are playable now -just no putting.
The other side has always struggled for decent golf with only Barwon Heads comparing to the best of the Mornington Peninsula.13TH Beach is fun and a great addition.
We are doing some work at Curlewis and Torquay and both could be much better than they are now.
Point Lonsdale are also headed toward a new course in the next few years so the Bellarine is going to be a lot better for golf than it is now.
Obviously the land is not as good at the MP.
Barnbougle Dunes also seems to be getting closer to starting so finally Tasmania will have a course to be proud of.I think it will blow a few people away because the land is great for golf and it is a stunningly beautiful place as well. A rare combinaion.
For only six and a half grand for a 40 years golf it's a great deal even for someone from NSW.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2003, 12:51:51 AM »

Mike (or anyone else),

How big a deal is The Dunes in setting the tone of a return to sand based Dunesland courses in Australia?  

I get the idea that Australia was probably dragging about 25 years behind the United States in architectural trends (ie, Florida 60s, Gold Coast 80s) yet in the 90's when there was some sort of return to minimilistic design in the States, Australia followed soon after.  I am sure the reverence of the Sandbelt in Australia is one reason for this but how much of an effect do you think The Dunes had?  How much of an influence did the success of the Dunes have on the National?

If The Dunes had never been built would these courses have been built?
13th Beach
Moonah Links
St Andrews Beach
National Moonah and Ocean
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
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Re: Mornington Peninsula Courses
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2003, 02:35:31 PM »

Colin Campbell did the original course at Cape Schank and then Limestone Valley which became the Dunes.
He was the first to realize how perfect the land down there was.Campbell was an old pro who did all this in his seventies and he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
The courses were pretty rudimentary but he built them himself with almost no money.People liked them though.
The Dunes was so popular but I suspect the people at The National kept looking at all that great land to the right of thwe old 12th tee and knew they had to do something.They would have done it regardless of The Dunes.
The guy who owned /ownes the land at Moonah Links wouldn't have done anything if The National hadn't happened - I suspect.
My take is that he realized how much his land was potentially worth and he went from there.
Unlike those who developed the Dunes and The National ,he never struck me as someone who had any passsion for the game.
Obviously , Duncan Andrews owns both The Dunes and 13th Beach . 13th Beach came 6 or 7 years after and he built it - I assume- because The Dunes was successful.

St Andrews Beach. The final course in the chain for a long time .Just great land for golf. They are trying to make money - not suprisingly and it wont be that expensive to built real quality.Time will tell.
The road down there had a big influence to . I can remember as a kid taking 4 hours to get home in the summer when the Nepean Highway was the only road back to the city.
Better road - more beach houses- good land- plenty of money- premier golf city in the country.
Lots of reasons really.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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