The clubhouse at Kingston Heath Golf Club
Logo for Kingston Heath Golf Club

Location: Cheltenham, VIC
Established: 1909
Architect: Dan Soutar (1925)/ Dr. Alister MacKenzie (1926)
Date Played: 27th September 2013

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Logo for Australian Golf Digest which does a ranking of the Top 100 Golf Courses
2 (Current)

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3 (Current)

Thanks to my lovely wife and her great Christmas gift, I was given the opportunity to play at Kingston Heath Golf Club, one of the premier courses in the country. I remember my one and only visit in 2009 to watch Tiger Woods long awaited return to Australian soil, playing in the Masters. This was the first year it had moved from Huntingdale in an effort to bring new life to the event. What was truley fascinating was viewing the course minus all the peolple, grandstands and other aspects that go along with holding a golf tournament. It definetely was amazing the difference.

The entrance at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Entrance to Kingston Heath Golf Club in Cheltenham Victoria

Kingston Heath is one of eight official courses on the infamous Melbourne Sandbelt. It was first established in 1925 and had its origins from the Elsternwick Golf Club which was looking to relocate. Dan Soutar was the original designer of the course, with the green keeper from Royal Melbourne GC having the task of building the course.  In 1926 design elements from Dr Alistair Mackenzie were incorporated, which were mainly centered on bunkering throughout the course.

The Clubhouse at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The clubhouse at Kingston Heath

The first thing you notice after entering the grounds is the large white clubhouse, standing out against the course.  There are plenty of practice facilities available just beyond the proshop, allowing you to prepare for what is to come on the course. I must commend the staff in the proshop, who were extremely helpful and friendly.  I have been to some clubs in the Sandbelt where this wasn’t the case.  This certainly made the day start on a great note.

Memorabillia at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Memorabilia from past winners at the course

On the way to the bar after the game, I came across some great memorabilia from past events and history of the club, which adds to the experience. The bar area overlooks the course and is a great place to unwind and relive the days play.

The members bar at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The members bar at Kingston Heath

The map below shows the typical course layout found for normal play.  On my day of play the 18th was out of action, with the 19th hole being utilised, which is found behind the first green, running along to the second tee.

Course map for Kingston Heath Golf Club

Map of Kingston Heath Golf Club

I was fortunate enough to be paired with two other members, Ray and John and another guest Greg, on the day.  This enabled me to enter the local competition and at two dollars that was great value. The biggest difference between now and my last visit for the Masters was the course routing (and the lack of people).  The first hole was actually the tenth during the tournament.

 

Scorecard for Kingston Heath Golf Club

Scorecard for Kingston Heath Golf Club

 

The 1st tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Heading into the sun on the 1st tee

Around the start of the course it is quite flat and an open area.  The tee area just blends in.  Hitting off into the sun the round began.  There is quite a large landing area for the first hole, but it is quite long hole for a par 4 at 418 meters.  Landing in the fairway bunkers will all but rule out a par.  This hole has a hill at the halfway point, after which it runs down to the green.

The 1st green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Looking back from the 1st green

More bunkers protect the right of the green, so missing short or left is the better options.  There had been quite a bit of rain in Melbourne before my visit, so the surrounds to the greens were quite soft.  My expectation of playing a lot of bump and run shots around the greens was killed on the first hole, leading to my shot not even reaching the green.

The 19th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Playing the extra hole – 19th tee

The nineteenth hole, a 147 meter par 3, is only in play when course maintenance is being carried out.  This was also in play during the Masters with the short tenth being taken out.  I quite like this hole, not just because I had a birdie here, as it looks quite challenging to the eye from the tee.  Play is from a slightly raised area to a slightly raised green.  Numerous bunkers protect both sides of the green, but there is one area, where the ball can be run onto the green, so this to me is good golf architecture.

The 19th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Happy with my birdie putt on the 19th green

Left of the hole the bunkers are quite deep, with the green narrowing towards the rear, so they are best avoided.  I found the greens on the course ran very true, but were a little softer than I expected, seeing quite a few pitch marks on the green.

The 2nd fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Great fairway bunkering on the 2nd – but not if you are in it

The second hole is a 351 meter par 4, with a dogleg to the left.  Cutting the corner has risks with a large fairway bunker, or for those totally losing the plot, tea tree. The reward is a short approach to a green which is quite open at the front.

The 2nd green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 2nd green is slightly raised, running away on most sides

There are many slight undulations on the Kingston Heath greens, but the putting lines remain true.  The second allows for a bump and run shot when conditions are firm, if you are short or long, however sand is found left or right.

The 3rd tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Playing partner Ray on the 3rd tee

Hole 3 is a short par 4, with a dog leg left.  Measuring only 269 meters you are presented with trying to reach the green in one where many bunkers can be found, or lay up short with a short iron left to play.

The 3rd fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Approach to the 3rd green on this short par 4

The true challenge on this hole is found when you reach the putting surface.  Large undulations on a small green, including a false front.  The approach needs to be accurate.

The 4th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

357m par 4 – Shoot left for the ideal line on the 4th

From the fourth tee this hole doesn’t seem overly difficult, in fact it is quite a straight hole.  Difficulty does exist if you play the wrong line however.  Right brings tall trees into play, as well as having to reach the green over some large traps.

The 4th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Many bunkers protect the right side of the 4th green

The fourth green is well protected on the either side of the green.  Very strategic for those who have not played to the favoured left side of the fairway, where the green opens up for the approach.  This green has great views back to the clubhouse, which is well worth taking in.

The 5th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 5th hole – 173m par 3

On the 5th hole we find a longish par 3. To reach the putting surface you must carry some scrub and sand traps.  Again options are open for the shorter hitters with a passage to the left of the green allowing the ball to be run on.

The 5th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Landing left of the green if preferable on the 5th green

Anything right of the fifth hole will find trouble in the numerous bunkers.  Too far right and numerous bunkers will have to be carried to reach the green.

The 6th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Play over a slight hill and avoid bunkers left and right on the 6th

The sixth hole takes you back towards the clubhouse.  Playing over a slight hill, the green is unsighted from the tee.  The fairway is quite open a large tree and traps right of the fairway, but thick tea tree and traps down most of the left.

The 6th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Halfway along the 6th fairway – the clubhouse becomes prominant

Once you are over the hill, it is a great the green with clubhouse in the background. More bunkers are to the right of the green.

The 6th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Many undulations and swales on the 6th green (2017)

The green on the 6th is quite large, with lots of undulations. It is quite easy to see balls putted off the green into the swales if hit too hard.

The 7th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 7th hole – a shortish par 5 (2017)

Playing away from the clubhouse, the seventh is a shortish par 5 at 462 meters.  From the tee best play will be towards the right to avoid the fairway traps.  Dense scrub can be found either side of the landing area.

The 7th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Once over the initial ridge we see the target – 7th fairway (2017)

Many more traps are potentially in play as we make our way to the green, depending on how you plan to play the hole.

The 7th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Anything short will roll back from the 7th green (2017)

A large false front is found on the 7th green, preventing anything short from reaching the hole.  Sand traps are located either side of the green for an errant shot, but there is the option of running the ball in with only a gully protecting the front of the green.

The 8th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Greg hitting off on the 8th – 398 meter par 4

Playing the eighth, you face a blind tee shot over a hill.  Playing to the left will take the fairway traps out of play, although there is quite a lot of room to land your tee shot.

The 8th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Once over the hill the 8th green is all down hill

Playing to the green from a mostly down hill slope.

The 9th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Accuracy is critical on the 9th tee shot – 330m par 4

The 9th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 9th has a large dogleg to the left (2017)

The 9th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

More bunkering short of the 9th green

Tee marker at Kingston Heath Golf Club The pinflags at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The tee markers and pin flags at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 10th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 10th – a 127 meter par 3

The tenth hole is a great short par 3.  With waste covering the area from tee to green it is essential to hit the correct distance.  This hole is generally not played during tournaments, with the longer 19th being a more popular choice.  All the same this is a little gem.

The 10th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Large bunker covering the left side of the 10th green

Heavily protected by bunkers around the green, finding the dance floor is essential.  Even reaching the green does not guarantee par with gentle slopes found all over the green.

The 11th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Long par 4 at 380m – 11th tee

This hole is slightly deceiving from the tee.  The best line is slightly to the right as the trees straight ahead will come into play for the long hitters.

The 11th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 11th has some layup areas to the left

But be cautious as there are many bunkers located along the center of the fairway ready to catch the brave trying to shorten the hole.

The 11th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Looking back from the 11th green

The green is slightly raised, as are most at Kingston Heath, with more traps to the right of the green.

The 12th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

A long par 5 at 509m – avoid the middle bunker on the 12th

The biggest caution on your tee shot here is don’t hit it down the center.  A large bunker awaits, making life difficult to reach the green in regulation.  Plenty of space left or right, however water hazards come into play if too far left.

The 12th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Sand, scrub and hazards are all left of the 12th fairway

I truly think this is a genuine 3 shot hole.  The safest route along this hole is to the right, but also makes it much longer.

The 12th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The 12th green – avoid being long

Short, long all find MacKenzies brilliant bunker design. Damn that Scotsman.

The 13th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

This hole played longer than 330m into the wind on the 13th

The thirteenth does not look overly spectacular, its probably better known for Tiger Woods bouncing his driver into the crowd during the 09 Masters.  Fairly flat and open from the tee you can’t go wrong hitting the center of the fairway.

The 13th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Relatively clear shot to the 13th green if you hit the fairway

The green is protected by bunkers on the right, but shouldn’t come into play if you have gone to the left of the fairway.  The day I played the ground was quite damp, making running the ball onto the green difficult.

The 14th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Tight tee shot on the 14th – another long par 5 at 516m

The 14th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Hitting the right of the 14th fairway gives a clearer view to the green

The 14th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Anything left could find sand on the 14th fairway

The 14th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Difficult chip to 14th green as it is all downhill

The 15th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

The signature 15th hole – a 142m par 3

Very famous for being the signature hole on the course, it was a little intimidating standing on the tee.  The fact that it is all up hill and the wind was blowing steadily into our face was not making life any easier.

The 15th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Many bunkers before reaching the 15th green

Bunkers can be found all the way along the right side to the green and through the front, which I am lead to believe can be difficult to get out of.  Happily I avoided these like the plague.

The 15th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Looking back from the raised 15th green

There is no way that this photo shows how tricky this green can be.  Quite narrow, bailing out to the left is an option but not the best, whilst some gentle contours ensure making par is no easy task.

The 16th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Hole 16 requires a blind tee shot over the hill which doglegs right

This blind tee shot can be difficult, in fact I saw plenty of professionals in trouble when I went to the Australian Masters finding the tea tree on either side.  The fairway is generous though so hitting down the middle is the safe play.

The 16th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Hitting downslope to the 16th green

The shot to the green is off a steady slope downhill with a slight dogleg.  Certainly the slope is more apparent than what can be seen in this picture.  There is plenty of putting area to shoot at however.

The 16th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

A large double green is found at the 16th with its many undulations

The green is large, but it doesn’t mean that playing to the 8th side is a wise option. The green is slightly raised leaving anything short, left or right with potentially a difficult chip.

The 17th tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Large landing area on 17 but a long par 4 measuring 420m

By far one of the hardest holes on the course.  Measuring a long 420 meters, into the wind this becomes massive.  The fairway is large and is shortest route is going down the left side.

The 17th fairway at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Avoid the fairway bunkers on the 17th Fairway or risk not reaching the green

However traps also can be found down the left, making a shot to the green all but impossible.  The fairway slopes right to left, but also slopes towards the green for the last 100 meters or so, which also slopes away from front to back.

The 17th green at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Our final green on the day – the 17th slopes away to the rear

I must say that I really enjoyed the day at Kingston Heath.  Truly a world class golf course for its design and conditioning. Work was being carried out on the irrigation systems during my visit, but had little impact on play (except that the markers had yet to be put back on the sprinkler heads). Having the extra hole certainly reduces the impact on play-ability of the course, in fact I quite liked the 19th hole.

The MacKenzie bunkering certainly adds to the course strategy. Taking the wrong line can make life a lot more difficult than it needs to be, especially on approaches to greens. There is ample room to layup in places or miss in the right spot, allowing a chance to recover. You can certainly see why the course receives such high praise.

Panoramic view from 1st Tee at Kingston Heath Golf Club

Panaromic view from the 1st Tee (2017)

There are a couple of instances where play will move in the same direction for a couple of holes (7-8 and 17-18, but with changes in topography or layout of the hole, this helps to negate the issue largely.

I played here again in 2017 and it appears some of the heavier scrub has been removed in sections of the course. This has exposed some of the sandy base, which is much more preferable to play from, although still challenging, than trying to hit out of heavy grass.

The staff were extremely friendly and I was made to feel welcome at the club.  Great customer service which should be apparent at all clubs, especially if we want to see an increase in people playing golf.  The round also went relatively smoothly, taking only 4 hours, which was great as I had limited time to play.

To play Kingston Heath Golf Club you need one of the following:

1. Be invited by a member
2. Interstate or overseas visitor (must be a member of a golf club outside VIC)
3. Play one of the charity/open days held throughout the year. Keep an eye out on www.golflink.com.au

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Aussie Golf Quest
Aussie Golf Quest
Man on a mission to play Australia's Top 100 Golf Courses

1 Comment

  1. Played in Mazda 4BBB today. Course was in great condition. Good to finally play the 18th, but unfortunately the 15th was out of play. Gained a lot more appreciation of Kingston Heath today, especially having had a previous round there. Certainly a course would not hesitate to play again if invited.

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