Royal Melbourne Golf Club – West Course 

Course Data
LocationVictoria, Australia
Yardage6595 yards Par 72
Course Rating72.0
Playing Date2 May 2006
DesingnerAlister Mackenzie
Golf CartNo
Overall Rating
Course Layout
Difficulty Level
Greens Condition
Fairways Condition
Landscaping & Views
Level of Satisfaction

A view of the 17th bunkers
This club is one of the oldest in Australia built on the undulating sandy heathland, totaling 36 holes: West & East courses. The composite course which has ranked 1st in Australia for many years is comprised of 12 holes from the West and 6 holes from the East. However, the 4 holes out of 6 in the West that are not chosen in the composite course are still spectacular. Overall, the West Course, besides having great course design with its distinctive bunkers and rough, has a variety of native grasses beautifully & naturally framed on each hole. The fairways look relatively generous at first, but the ideal positions hitting the greens from good angles are masked by the generosity due to great bunkering.
2nd  Par 5 480 yards
A composite hole

A dogleg to the right, reachable in 2. You should drive over the center of the bunkers as they can be cleared with a carry of 220 yards and avoid the bunkers short of the green to the left and right. The green is fast and slopes from back to front.


2nd Par 5 480 yards (3)

2nd Par 5 480 yards (2)

2nd Par 5 480 yards (1)
3rd  Par 4 354 yards
A composite hole

3rd Par 4 354 yards (2)

3rd Par 4 354 yards (1)
A slightly dogleg to the left, a short par 4. An accurate tee shot is needed as the fairway is tight and protected by trees on the left. The green slopes down over the back and it’s easy to finish well past the pin. Moreover, the green is elevated and a shot short would leave a difficult pitch shot onto the downhill green.
5th Par 3 176 yards
A composite hole

5th Par 3 176 yards (2)

5th Par 3 176 yards (1)

A signature hole. Three elements-the green, bunkers sounding it and the heath & trees around them, create a beautiful hole. Not only the bunkers but the backdrop of native trees emphasize the hole’s great shape. At the same time, this par 3 over a small valley is challenging. The slope just in front of the green is shaved and so steep that a ball short will run to the bottom-a classic false front not common on today’s newly designed courses. The green is fast sloping from back to front with bunkers on both sides protecting it. This symbolic hole has deeply influenced course architects of succeeding generations. Some have tried to mimic the great hole but none have been able to top it. This hole has been selected as one of the best 500 holes in the world in 2000 by US Golf Magazine.

6th  Par 4 428 yards
A composite hole

A sharp dogleg to the right, a great hole. The tee shot is over dense rough and 3 fairway bunkers next to the rough come into play. A carry of 220-240 yard drive is needed to clear the bunkers. Heather and local grasses frame these punishing bunkers. Also guarding the corner of the dogleg are tall eucalyptus trees. If you take the conservative route off the tee by hitting the left side of the fairway, the second shot is long and demanding usually from a downhill or side hill lie. The green is elevated and tiered sloping severely toward the front. An approach shot hit above the hole may result in a three-putt or a four putt, so keep the ball below the hole. This hole has also been selected after the 5th hole as one of the best 500 holes in the world in 2000 by US Golf Magazine.


6th Par 4 428 yards (3)

6th Par 4 428 yards (2)

6th Par 4 428 yards (1)
9th  Par 4 416 yards

9th Par 4 416 yards (2)

9th Par 4 416 yards (1)
A straight, testing par 4. You should drive to the right side of the fairway in order to have the open second shot to the green as it is angled to the left and well bunkered on both sides. The second shot is slightly uphill. The contrast between the light green, the white bunkers and the thick green bush surrounding them creates a beautiful tableau.
10th Par 4 305 yards
A composite hole

10th Par 4 305 yards (2)

10th Par 4 305 yards (1)
A dogleg to the left, a very short par 4. A long hitter is tempted to attack the pin on the tee shot by cutting the corner. However, the bunker sitting at the corner is huge & deep and a long and high drive is needed to clear it, so a miss will be penalized. Even if your tee shot goes over the bunker but fails to reach around to the green, thick rough awaits your shot, and you would end up with a par or a bogie rather than a birdie. To play safe, you should aim at the center of the fairway off the tee. If your tee shot is 260 yards or more long, you will find the ball in trees beyond the fairway. So, hitting a 240-yard long tee shot followed by using a sand wedge to the pin is a good strategy to make a birdie. It is short but suits a disciplined player who goes the right way around.
11th Par 4 455 yards 
A composite hole

11th Par 4 455 yards (2)

11th Par 4 455 yards (1)
A dogleg to the left, a long & difficult par 4. The fairway and the green slopes from right to left. You should keep the tee shot left of the center. If it goes to the right, you won’t be able to reach the green on the next shot unless you are a long hitter. The best route off the tee is close to two fairway bunkers on the left corner. You must avoid the bunkers to have a good score on this challenging hole. The green entrance is squeezed a little by bunkers on both sides. This is the hole where you require distance and accuracy on the tee & second shots.
13th Par 3 147 yards

13th Par 3 147 yards (2)

13th Par 3 147 yards (1)

A short par 3 surrounded by bunkers. The front half of the undulating green slopes to the front while the back half falls away, so the right club selection is important. This hole is challenging, though it isn’t long, and is beautiful.

15th  Par 5 475 yards

15th Par 5 475 yards (2)

15th Par 5 475 yards (1)
An almost straight, short but tricky par 5 reachable in 2. The tee shot needs to hit onto the right side in order to open up the green but trees and bush protecting the right side come into play. A large and deep bunker guarding the left front of the green adds to the degree of difficulty on this short par 5. The green slopes sharply to the front.
16th Par 3 221 yards

16th Par 3 221 yards (2)

16th Par 3 221 yards (1)
A long par 3. The green is small and well protected by extensive bunkers, so an accurate shot with a fairway wood or so is required on this tough hole.
17th Par 4 439 yards
A composite hole

A dogleg to the left. A long and accurate drive over a hill is needed to hit the green on regulation as the landing area is tight with 2 bunkers on the left corner. 2 bunkers guarding the right side of the green should be avoided, as they are deep. The green is elevated. Eucalyptus trees hanging over the bunkers make another hazard and the natural shape of the bunkers made over the years and the beauty of the trees are a sight to behold.


17th Par 4 439 yards (3)

17th Par 4 439 yards (2)

17th Par 4 439 yards (1)
19th hole

It is a 30-minute drive from Central Melbourne and 40-minute drive from Melbourne Airport. Visitors need to be accompanied by a member but opportunities exist for interstate and overseas golfers if they bring letters of recommendation from their own golf clubs, although the playing fees are very expensive.

The back tees aren’t normally placed on the tee grounds and they are used in the club tournaments like monthly medals. Neither golf carts nor caddies are available, so you need to pull your baggy by yourself. The buggies are allowed to run on the tee grounds as well as the greens, which is unique.


The composite course is 6938 yards par 72 which is 350 yards longer and more difficult than the West Course. If I could play the composite course, the best combination of the West & East courses, my personal rating on Royal Melbourne GC would definitely be a little higher, although very high enough on the one of the West Course alone. The course opens up only to the members twice a year.

The composite course was ranked 1st in Australia by Golf Digest 2004. Also, US Golf Magazine ranked the composite course the 10th best course in the world in 2005. The other selected courses in Asia and Oceania were Kingston Heath GC (Australia, 20th), Cape Kidnappers (New Zealand, 27th), New South Wales GC (Australia, 34th), Hirono GC (Japan, 35th), Barnbougle Dunes GL (Australia, 49th), Royal Adelaide GC (Australia, 54th), Kauri Cliffs GC (New Zealand, 58th), Kawana GC – Fuji Course (Japan, 80th), Tokyo GC (Japan, 94th), The Club at Nine Bridges (Korea, 95th) and Naruo GC (Japan, 100th).

The other famous courses in the world designed by Alister Mackenzie are Cypress Point GC (2nd of the above top 100 ranking), Augusta National GC (4th of the above ranking), Kingston Heath GC (same as above), New South Wales GC (same as above) and Royal Adelaide GC (same as above).