By Michael Davis
KINGSTON Heath is joining the groundswell of club thinking around the world bringing superb par-three experiences to time-poor golfers.
Latrobe and Lonsdale Links are two Victorian clubs already ahead of the game having completed par-three layouts on their sites.
The shorter courses are proving a boon for the clubs who already have them, with beginners, youngsters and social golfers taking to them in their droves. And they also provide ageing golfers, who struggle to play 18 holes, a great alternative to not playing at all.
US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, whose company, Ogilvy Cocking Mead, built the six-hole par-three on practice ground at Lonsdale, said it was already proving a great hit with members.
“It is definitely the way the game is going,” he said. “You can go out and have a bit of fun with your mates for 40 minutes or play it three times and make it an 18-hole experience.”
The Heath will build a gem on land it already owns adjoining the course following strong support from members at a recent EGM.
And the club is promising it will be an experience every bit the equal of playing the world-famous 18-hole course. Kingston Heath members are genuinely excited about the new short course.
Now that it’s been approaved, the spectacular new layout will do wonders for attracting new players to Melbourne’s illustrious sand-belt region, particularly juniors and women. And it will complement one of the finest 18-hole layouts in the world.
Once the longest course in Australia, Dan Soutar’s genius routing coupled with Dr Alister MacKenzie’s expert bunkering still make the Heath one of the great showpieces in world golf.
“The bunkering is just phenomenal,” Tiger Woods commented while winning the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in 2009. “You don’t get to see bunkering like this in any other place in the world.”
The 15-time major champion is correct. Kingston Heath is a memorable excursion through heathland and magnificent Australian flora and the famous bunkering. But there is a dearth of short holes.
Dan Soutar’s design includes only three par-3s (although an additional 19th hole was added as a spare hole earlier this decade), two of which are outstanding.
The tiny 10th measures 127 metres and the target is a must-find, for the bunkering and surrounds are so dire that securing even a bogey from off the green is often no easy task.
Uphill short holes are difficult to design well, yet the 142-metre 15th is among the best on the planet. With a green far larger than the golfer sees from the low-lying tee, a yawning bunker to the left and more sand on the right, it is a daunting shot at a key moment in the round.
Fans of the original course will be hoping for more of the same with the new short course.