03 Jun 2024

The Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, is home to a treasure trove of great courses. Here are three you won’t want to miss.

The greater Melbourne area is unique in the way that it probably has the highest density of great golf courses within a two-hour radius than any other part of the world. Just an hour-and-a- half from the Melbourne International Airport, the Mornington Peninsula is part of this amazing golf region, and boasts some of the best courses in the country, if not the world.

Most, if not all, of the courses in the Mornington Peninsula are open to the public. This month, we feature three of the best this area has to offer, each one with their own unique characteristic, playability and challenge. The only common feature they share is their quality and that few golfers will be disappointed by what they offer.

Portsea Golf Club is built on undulating sand dunes and framed by coastal vegetation.


“The union of a beautiful Mornington Peninsula location that’s rich in natural features and a smart approach to design created a layout that has stood the test of time. The Portsea course wins fans for its genius and guile, while its shot options scores were particularly healthy.”

This was what Australian Golf Digest had to say about Portsea Golf Club in their 2022/23 Australia’s Top 100 Golf Courses rankings. As the definitive golf media in the country, that says something.

As you drive through the gates of the club, located in the picturesque and charming seaside town of Portsea, there is every indication that this is a place of quality. The modern clubhouse oozes with class, with the well- stocked pro shop and restaurant within easy access, offering fine views over the course.

Miss the green and you may find yourself in deep trouble in Portsea’s bunkers.

It is evident that the flow of golfer traffic has been carefully thought out here. The bag drop, golf registration, and buggy parking area are all within a few steps of each other, making the journey from arrival to the tee box a quick and fuss-free one.

While the immediate sense is that Portsea is a contemporary golf club, its history began in the late 1800s just when tourists began arriving in the Portsea and Sorrento areas. Paddle steamer trips from Melbourne were frequent through the summer season, leading to the development of cottages, guesthouses and hotels.

Holiday makers came by rough roads, a four-hour drive, or by steamer from Melbourne. Sportsman and businessman Arthur Relph happened across the splendid golfing land stretching from the Quarantine Station to the ocean and set about acquiring it. Eventually some 90 acres were set aside by the Portsea Lands Company on 18 June 1923 and design of a preliminary nine hole layout was commenced. The links was first opened for play from December 1924 to Easter 1925.

By the end of the 1920s, Portsea Golf Club appeared to be well established and financially secure, albeit supported by a number of its wealthier members. The club boasted a membership of over a hundred, with most members commuting from Melbourne. The course consisted of eleven holes in play and three very successful open events had been organised, putting the Club on the golfing map. A further
two holes were added in 1930, another one in 1934, two in 1955 and finally in 1965 the course was again extended to encompass eighteen holes.

The 5700m Portsea course (men’s tees) stretches across rolling sand dunes and coastal vegetation, much like most of the courses in the Peninsula. There is ample undulation changes, and many of the holes play up and down the surrounding landscape. There is great privacy among the holes and very often, playing each one feels like you’re the only person on the golf course.

The holes vary in length with short par-4s like the 256m 10th and 267m 15th juxtaposing themselves against heftier ones like the 395m fourth, and 407m 14th. Table-top greens – found at almost every golf course in the region – seems to be the trend here, and approach shots need to be precise if you don’t want to see your balls slipping away into difficult recovery areas.

Accommodations at Portsea.

That said, it is a fairly forgiving golf course with relatively wide fairways and few forced carries. If you don’t spray your tee shots, it is likely you’ll survive the round with one ball. That is not to say you’ll play well given that bunkers protecting the greens can be deep and penal.

Portsea Golf Club has more to offer in addition to its superb championship course. Portsea Golf Club has its own ‘Mercure’ 24-room boutique accommodation. Each room contains a private balcony or terrace, ensuite baths, large LCD television and modern hotel conveniences. This also helps make the club an ideal venue for meetings, getaways and weddings.

Portsea Golf Club, 46 London Bridge Road, Portsea, VIC 3944, Australia +61-3-59816155,

The Moonah Links Legends course is a shorter, but equally picturesque, course at the resort


The Open Course at Moonah Links is one of the most challenging venues for a professional golf tournament. Designed by Australian legend, the five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson, the course is “the first-ever 18 holes built and prepared for a national championship”. It is one of the longest courses in Australia, and probably in the world in this category.

The Australian Open venue measures 6783m, so it offers more than a casual stroll in the outdoors. It is a mighty and ferocious test of golfing ability, the likes of which even the top pros only occasionally experience. In addition to its conducive natural contours, the site is blessed with ever-present wind of some direction and strength, and this enhances its attributes. Planning has arranged that no particular direction is especially helpful, it is always a factor.

But golfers to the premier golf resort on the Mornington Peninsula won’t need to torture themselves on the Open Course. The Legends Course, its younger sibling opened in 2003, is shorter and friendlier, and has equally won rave reviews.

Moonah Links offers a stylish example of a contemporary clubhouse.

The work of Ross Perrett, the Legends Course has consistently ranked highly in all course reviews and whilst slightly easier than the Open Course, is certainly no pushover. The Legends is shorter, being “only” 6,315m off the black tees. It is blessed with the better piece of land, has more natural trees and bushes through which the holes wander and certainly bunkers that would not look out of place in the sand-belt itself. Perrett has added to the fun by naming each hole after a famous golfer; most are great Australians, though Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are in there too as international giants who have triumphed in Australia.

With its two championship courses, accommodations and restaurants at the Peppers Moonah Links, the resort is a veritable one-stop shop for golf travellers. Rooms there have balconies overlooking the courses, facilities like a swimming pool, free mountain bikes and fitness centre make for ample distractions away from golf. Pebbles Restaurant offers relaxed modern Australian dining, featuring an outdoor terrace and a dining room with views over the golf course. Spike Bar is ideal for a drink overlooking the greens. All rooms at Peppers Moonah Links include free Wi-Fi, full- length mirrors, Smart TVs and ultra-modern furnishings.

Moonah Links Resort, Fingal, VIC 3939, Australia, +61-3-5988-2000,

American architect Tom Doak’s ability to bring out the best in natural terrain comes through at St Andrews Beach.


American course architect Tom Doak is arguably one of the most in-demand designers in the modern day. His work at Tara iti, and Barnbougle Dunes – among many others – has earned him accolades the world over. Doak’s reputation as a designer who brings out the best in existing terrain can’t be over-emphasised, and his work at St Andrews Beach is a testimony to that skill.

Don’t expect anything fancy at St Andrews Beach. The clubhouse is a glorified farmhouse at the top of a hill, housing a modest golf reception cum pro shop (with limited products) cum café. But it’s the golf that you come for and when the weather is kind, you’re in for a great treat.

This is as pure a golf experience as you will discover. Tee boxes opens vista to the surrounding beauty, unravelling the holes in all their rugged splendour. Despite the limited size of the clubhouse and reception area, St Andrews Beach is a big golf course. Fairways are wide and you can spray it a little and still find your ball.

Friendly spectators are often found on the St Andrews Beach course.

But if you do, after a less than perfect drive, you may not like what you see. And you may not be able to see where you need to get on your second shot. A little knowledge goes a long way playing Doak’s gem here, and it’s worth a second round if you have the time.

What you will notice is that the American architect didn’t look like he did much to the indigenous terrain. The property, now owned by a company run by Chinese, is as natural as they come with coastal bush vegetation and bunkers being the only real defenders of par. But they are so well placed, and the landforms so undulating, that they are probably all the course needs to keep you from shooting your handicap.

Whether you play well or not is hardly the goal here. The course is wonderful to behold whether you’re a hacker or a scratch golfer. Each person will find his or her own salvation whether it is playing well, or thoroughly enjoying the unique experience St Andrews Beach has to offer.

St Andrews Beach Golf Course, 209 Sandy Road, St Andrews Beach, VIC 3941, Australia, +61-3-5988-6000,


Japan has its onsens, the Mornington Peninsula has its hot springs. There is nothing like soaking your body in a geothermal mineral spring after a round of golf, especially when the temperature heads south. Peninsula Hot Springs, located just 90 minutes from Melbourne and in the middle of golf country in the Mornington Peninsula, offers just the thing.

The Springs offer spa treatments, as well as glamping accommodations if you’re keen to linger a little longer than a day-long visit. If not, a leisurely soak in geothermal waters emanating from 637m below the earth’s surface lets your bodies soak in the healing minerals of boron, magnesium, potassium and sodium found in waters that have spent a good part of the last 10,000 years underground.

PENINSULA HOT SPRINGS, 140 Springs Lane, Fingal, VIC 3939, Australia,

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