Location: Inglewood, NSW
Architect: James Herd Scott
Date Played: 14th March 2013
I had seen a few Golf Link days advertised, but was never able to attend, for one reason or another. Finally everything aligned and I was able to actually make one of the open days with an early tee off time, making it great to get in a round before work. This was also the first round of the year on a course I had yet to play on the list. Unfortunately we were not aware of the course renovations until the night before (would be helpful Golf Link to make this known when booking). Upon arrival it was pitch black, with maintenance staff out with torches and lights on the green keeping equipment.
Entrance to Monash Country Club
Monash Country Club is a private golf club located in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, (although there is no water views). It is named after one of the great Australian soldiers, Sir John Monash, but started out as a Jewish Social Golf Club playing at various golf courses around Sydney. In 1946 a decision was made to build their own course and open it to all faiths. In 1950 the first 9 holes were completed and opened for play.
Early morning picture of the clubhouse and practice green
Seeing the sun rise at the club was quite amazing though, so I don’t feel overly obsessed playing at such ungodly hours when you get to view such sights. The clubhouse is quite large and has a great view out over the course. I also thought to give a view of what facilities are like in the top 100 clubs, so from now I will try and show inside the clubhouse or locker facilities. I wasn’t overly keen on the locker structure, the shoe lockers were well away from the bag locker, just a side note, not really critical to the course and how it plays.
Mens locker room – time to freshen up before the game
Map of Monash Country Club
Scorecard for Monash Country Club
After a quick practice putt we hit the first tee, with the light starting to get a little better, although we couldn’t see the ball after about 100 meters on the first couple of shots. This par 5 is not short on length at 519 meters, but a raised tee shot will take 50 meters off this. There are a few fairway bunkers located at varying lengths on the way to the green, but shouldn’t cause too many issues. The green is located left of the fairway, with a shallow bunker left and a few mounds right. This hole eases you into the course, not demanding too much from the outset.
Hole 1 – a long but fairly easy par 5
The second is a 354 meter par 4, fairly straight and all up hill, so it plays much longer. From the tee you have to carry a small water hazard, but the main issue will be keeping it straight. The fairway slopes from right to left, with out of bounds running most of the left side. Staying on the right hand side of the fairway will leave an opening to the putting surface between the two greenside bunkers. The green is fairly flat, but slopes right to left and back to front.
Reverse look at hole 2 – easier looking back than walking up
During my visit, there was some work being carried out on a few of the holes as a part of the course Masterplan, with Bob Harrison assigned to carry out the works. In particular the 3rd was out of play, a short uphill par 3 (this was actually opening 2 weeks after). It looks like it will be a challenging par 3, with most of the putting surface not visible from the tee, but also a large false front, ensuring anything slightly short being returned down the slope.
3rd hole in its final stages of redevelopment
Hole 5 is a par 3, measuring 162 meters, although it is downhill so you can take at least one club length off, possibly two. You can see the valley beyond the green, which creates a spectacular view. The green is quite wide and protected by a four traps, one looking out of place with darker sand and some swales and mounds in the surrounds. The putting surface has a significant ridge through the middle, making it critical to land on the right portion of the green. I would imagine a back pin position would make the hole a lot tougher, whilst a front pin position generally leaving an uphill putt.
Downhill shot to the 5th a lengthy par 3
At 363 meters, the 6th hole is a medium length par 4. This hole doglegs to the left from the tee, with bush running the entire left side. Trees run along the right side, seperating the 4th and 6th fairways. It looks like origninally there was quite a bit of space on the fairway to land, but some sort of construction was occuring at the time of playing on the left of the fairway. Not being maked I was ensuring to stay well clear. Fairway bunkers run down the right side, but when we reach the green there is a large swale separating the green from the fairway. There is also a large trap left front of the green with water on the left. The green is quite shallow so you could easily find your ball running off the putting surface.
Trouble surrounds the 6th green
On my visit the 8th hole was out of play, a temporary green (which was just as quick as the normal greens) in place making the hole a long par 3 rather than a short par 4. This hole is having some bunkers restructured, the green remodelled as well as the fairway. To view the clubs masterplan visit Monash Country Club Masterplan.
Development work on the 8th fairway and green
Due to the construction work, the clubs practice facilities are being used as a hole, a 130 meter par 3. The chipping green overlooks the clubhouse and certainly fits in as a natural hole during the renovations. The hole was not out of place in the routing and if you were not told, would think it was part of the course normal structure.
Temporary hole in play during course development
From the clubhouse there are 3 holes playing away in roughly the same direction and roughly the same location for the tees, all of which are a par 5. These are the 1st, 10th and 15th holes. They are all downhill tee shots, playing left to right, not providing much variety from the tee, but also have similar second and third shots. What differentiates the holes are the green structures. The 10th is a raised green.
Reverse view of the 10th hole
The eleventh is the hardest hole on the course. This 386 meter par 4, has a slight turn to the left. From the tee you are playing over a slight hill, with trees protecting the left hand side of the fairway. This is the shortest route, but does not leave much of a view at the green. Best position is right, although this make the hole longer. From here you will be either playing from the top of the hill to a green which is raised above a slight gully, or for longer hitters playing to an uphill green. This hole really showed me the extent of the rough on the course, making it hard to see the ball and also stopping the ball in its tracks. Two traps protect either side of the green, which is quite long with gentle slopes. A par here is well earned.
Approach to the 11th green
There are two fantastic short par 4 holes on the course, the 13th and 18th. At 315 meters you are faced with a blind tee shot (a map of the hole would be useful for first timers). This hole doglegs to the left and drops steeply in elevation. Why is it a great short hole? Well it’s all about the tee shot. If you want to take on hitting the green in one shot (or being close) you would hit above the first large tree on the left. This will send the ball way down the slope and put the ball close to the green, if not on.
13th hole a short par 4
For those wanting to play it safe hit a long iron on the left side of the fairway. If long enough the ball will run over what is almost a cliff, to the second fairway. This will leave a clear shot to the green, provided you haven’t hit the ball too long, if the later a tree will obscure the view. The slightly raised green has three sand traps protecting it, whilst a water hazard can be found for any long shots. A few undulations can be found on this green making it slightly tricky.
Downhill shot to the 13th green
Regular playing partner Joe posing on a bridge leading to the 14th hole. Getting us in the mood for the upcoming Masters.
Playing partner Joe on his way to the 14th tee
I could only describe the 14th as a monster par 3. Measuring 195 meters from the tips, there has to be at least 120 meters of carry over water. The green is built into a hill in front of the clubhouse, leaving a large downhill slope between the water and the green. Two bunkers protect each side of the putting surface. If we go of traditional design methods this hole is not quite fair for everyone, as it is a large carry. To go around this is almost impossible as a large gully exists to the left leading to the 15th fairway and large trees separate any chance of making the green from this position.
Tee shot with a lot of carry to the 14th green
One of the first things you that stand our after arriving at Monash is the fourteenth green and the dam that seperates it from the tee. This green has two tiers and slopes from the back to the front, with the green speeds you don’t want to be on the top tier with the flag at the bottom. It is not only a great looking hole from the tee, but also from behind the green and can be enjoyed from the half way bar or clubhouse.
Early morning view looking back over the 14th green
Hole 16 is fairly simple in design, in that it is a relatively straight par 4 measuring 374 meters, but not so simple to par. The hole plays up a gentle slope, with the fairway rising to higher section around the 230 meter mark and has out of bounds running the entire length on the right. About 50 meters short of the green there is another elevation change leading to a raised green. One trap exists front left, whilst a mound is found on the right half way along the green. The putting surface is relatively flat and long.
Reverse view of the 16th hole
For the penultimate hole, you face a down hill tee shot on this 132 meter par 3. From the tee you have to carry native shrubs, obscuring the view of the front of the hole. Two traps protect the front sides of the green, which is built into the hill, sloping down from the right. Any shots left or long will run dramatically away from the putting surface and leave a blind shot back up the hill. The actual green is quite small, but slopes from the right to left. It presents a relatively small target from the tee and will reward a great first shot.
The small 17th green of this par 3
The 18th, a short par 4 at 311 meters, is a great finishing hole. Visually appealing with gardens on the right sided and the clubhouse in the distance. Playing from a raised tee, trouble exists down the left with a large water hazard. There is a large landing space for those choosing to layup, but hitting too far right will bring trees into play. For those planning to attack the hole, the typical area for a driver narrows dramatically so an accurate shot is required.
Looking down from the tee to the fairway of the 18th hole
With the slope of the fairway being dramatically right to left, and all uphill, you play to a raised green, protected on its left side by a large bunker. Anything short right of this could roll back from the green. The actual putting surface slopes from the back and has gentle slopes around the green. A great tactical hole, where taking on the risk, could alter the outcome of a close match.
The last green for the day overlooks the clubhouse
I enjoyed the day at Monash Country Club, even with the construction work being carried out. The course was in fantastic condition and had a great variety with most of the holes. Using the rolling hills within the course makes this more memorable, although hard work. With the greens being some of the firmest and fastest I’ve come across, the main issue I found with this (as well as a few other clubs in the Sydney region) is that they are surrounded by kikuya grass. This takes out the bump and run shot, which I think is essential if the greens are in this condition. It opens up a variety of shots to be played, instead of having to make precision lob shots constantly. The course will do well with Bob Harrison firming up green surrounds, but also opening up the fairways. These at times seem to encroach on the fairway.
I can’t wait to go back after all of the redevelopment has been carried out in a few years. I’m sure this will see the club rise in future golf list rankings.
To play Monash Country Club you need one of the following:
1. Be invited by a member
2. Golf club member from Australia or Overseas, limited times on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
3. Play one of the open days held throughout the year. Keep an eye out on the iSeekGolf website