Location: Barwon Heads, VIC
Architect: Tony Cashmore
Date Played: 9th October 2015
Having a day spare on my trip to Port Fairy, I thought it an ideal time to fit another game in. Not originally my intended course, Barwon Heads Golf Club had a seniors day, whilst Thirteenth Beach Creek Course had a corporate day. So having to take in the Beach Course was the compromise. To be honest I wasn’t complaining, although I had discussed with a friend about playing here later in the year. Oh well have to play it twice now.
The entrance to Thirteenth Beach Golf Links
Located in Barwon Heads, close to the beach, which you can hear but not see, this is a links style course. For that matter it would be a links course type of weekend with Port Fairy Golf Links on the agenda for the following day. Thirteenth Beach has two courses, the initial Beach Course completed in 2001 and the Creek Course, 2004.
Thirteenth Beach Golf Links Clubhouse
The clubhouse if very modern with good facilities for your round. I took in a bit of the Presidents Cup on one of the many screens located around the bar area. Also great views over the 4th hole.
Map of Thirteenth Beach Golf Links Beach Course
The Beach Course takes in some of the coast land, hence the name Beach, although it is hidden beyond the sand dunes, but can be clearly heard.
Scorecard for the Beach Course
Just in case you are confused where you are or where to go
To make things a little easier in finding your way around, a signpost is located near the practice green. Helps direct you to either of the clubs courses, or if you are really lost and in the wrong place, back to St Andrews or Augusta.
On time and ready to start the round
Not quite the Rolex clock, found at many of the prestigious US courses, it was almost time to hit the first tee and get the round under way. Today I was playing alone, which I do enjoy at times as it lets me take in more of the course design and surroundings.
Hole 1 – 317 Meter par 4
Having played over one hundred different courses, I must admit I found it much more appealing those that ease you into the round with a shorter par 4, on the easier side of play. The first here has a bit of carry over sandy wasteland, well wasteland as it was quite hard and compacted. The fairway is fairly wide if using a shorter club, driver brings the fairway bunkers into play and also a narrower landing area.
Small undulations on the first green
Playing from the right of the fairway allows an easier approach to this raised green. Protection of the putting surface includes a false front as well as bunkers down the left side. As i previously said, a nice opening hole allowing you to ease into the round, although there is the option of going for distance leaving a short approach the green.
Hole 2 – 377 meter par 4
A long par 4 which doglegs to the right. Bunkers located on the dogleg, also the green keepers who seemed to be keeping pace with me in staying ahead on every shot, was glad it didn’t last the whole round.
Large swale in front of the 2nd Green
Playing into the 2nd green requires a carry over a large swale at the center, with a bunker to the left. The green was quite wide, but the right side quite narrow.
Hole 3 – 164 meter par 3
Coming to the longest and hardest par 3 on course at the 3rd, also saw the group in front call me through. Always appreciated people who do this, but always feel a bit pressured to move through quickly, ensuring you play that hole plus tee off on the next to not hold them up too much.
Bunkers deceive distance to the 3rd green
Two bunkers were located right, but not right near the green, deceiving the distance. The green had a large ridge through the middle, so required a strong putt to reach the pin if in the front portion. I didn’t get too much of a chance to enjoy the design aspects of the hole, but there were a further par 3 holes which would be more challenging once I reached the dune areas.
Hole 4 – 462 meter par 5
Probably my favourite of the par 5 holes on the course, with a long sweeping curve to the left from tee to green. From the tee you are presented with a couple of options, playing to the left to try and shorten the hole, but punished by either fairway traps or water if venturing too far, or play out to the right with the safety of the wide fairway. Too far right will bring two trees into play for the second however.
Decisions with the approach from the 4th fairway
The second shot also has a few options, try taking on the green over the water, but also bringing the bunkers into play if you are slightly off line to the right. Lots of risk but big reward if accurate. Or there is the option of playing a traditional three shot in, going past the bunkers out to the right to the generous landing area, but bringing the green side bunkers into play for the approach.
Raised 4th green
The green complex itself is raised, repelling anything not quite strong enough to reach the putting surface. Landing in the wrong area can leave a difficult chip, especially if the pin is tight behind the sand traps.
Hole 5 – 312 meter par 4
Indexed as the easiest hole on the course, this shorter par 4, with its fairway angling away to the left, requires you to make a water carry. Then, also needing to negotiate a large complex of fairway bunkers built in to the side of the hill. This leaves a blind shot to the fairway. That is if you are taking the safe route. You can go more direct at the green, but obviously the risks increase.
Rolling away to danger on the 5th Green
Playing the approach to the green, is from a fairway with many small mounds, so don’t expect a perfect lie. The green is protected by bunkers to the right, but the left is quite open, sloping away to the left. This side also has a hill running away down to the water, so it is not easy shot running in. A hole which really requires favourable wind conditions to make a decent attempt at the green from the tee.
Hole 6 – 511 meter par 5
Playing from an elevated tee, you have a view over most of the hole. Water is found down the whole left of the fairway, but it is two large humps appear along the first area of the fairway, with a large fairway bunker built into the second, that really stand out.
Approach to the hidden 6th Green
I was a bit confused on where the green was located on this hole, so there was no real strategy playing. I could just see that the fairway came to an end around 100 out from the green, so then I discovered that the putting surface was over to the right. Just hidden behind two large hills. I left a little unsure on how I felt about this par 5, certain aspects were good, but not knowing where to play didn’t overly impress me. See how I feel next time, having a bit more course knowledge.
Hole 7 – 155 meter par 3
A great hole to start our way back to the clubhouse. Playing from an elevated tee, there is great scenery back to the lake and clubhouse beyond. As for the hole, there is ample room to land the ball, with danger on most sides.
Well protected 7th Green
A large mound to the left, obscures part of the green, making it appear smaller than it actually is. The large swale in front is also hidden and I was quite surprised to see how big it was as I got closer. There are multiple bunkers surrounding the hole on most sides. Anything left will require playing down to the green, as this area is a bit higher, whilst to the right, you will be playing up to the green. A memorable par 3.
Hole 8 – 402 meter par 4
To reach the clubhouse we play two of the hardest par 4 holes on the course. Both are also long. The tee shot on the 8th requires a carry to reach the fairway. Playing with a slight curve to the right, a wide fairway, with slight undulations is found along the way.
Approach to the hidden 8th green
The green is mostly hidden, although there is a small opening at the front, which helps you see where to hit the ball. Not as tricky to find as the 6th green, luckily, but the putting surface is obscured, so the contours are unknown, unless you venture forward to look.
Hole 9 – 406 meter par 4
Finishing the front with the hardest hole on course, it also happens to be the longest par 4. Having a dogleg to the right, with a large waste area, this hole is easy to drive through the fairway if playing too safe.
Approaching the 9th Green
The 9th green complex has a dramatic fall away on the right side, with any pins over that side requiring an accurate shot, so there can be some sucker pins. Putting here generally slopes to the right, although going a little long on the left could see the ball feed away into the rear collection area, so playing safe to the left can lead to trouble. Strong hole to finish the front nine.
Hole markers at Thirteenth Beach
I like the fact each 9 on the Beach course come back to the clubhouse. Good time to top up the liquids, although many drinking fountains can be found throughout the course.
Hole 10 – 356 meter par 4
This medium length par 4 plays over a small hill with a dogleg to the left. Quite a bit of room to land the tee shot, but playing the second the fairway narrows substantially, almost sloping in from both sides.
Partly concealed 10th Green
When playing the approach, part of the green may be obscured by the left bunker, which is slightly away from the green. Very dangerous place to end up as I found out, having to play out sideways.
Hole 11 – 478 meter par 5
Now on to the hardest par 5 hole on the course. There is a slight carry to the fairway. Then we encounter two huge bunker complexes built into two large mounds. The land has gentle slopes and large undulations in both ways as we progress.
Sitting up the hill is the 11th Green
Playing to the 11th green is up a small hill, with bunkers either side of the putting surface. Anything right can find trouble as the green falls away on this side. A fairly straight forward par 5, which does require a little thinking as you plot your way along.
Hole 12 – 148 meter par 3
I had managed to catch another group by this stage, who were letting me play through. Pressure again off the tee. Playing from an elevated tee, to reach the green there is a slight carry over scrub. This looks more daunting than it actually is though, as there is plenty of ground between this and the actual green, but it is obscured from the tee. Anything too far left here is not good though, miss to the right if you really have to.
Slightly raised 12th green
Having a slightly raised green, anything short may have to encounter the left hand bunker, although from the right hand side this is not as difficult. Quite intimidating from the tee, however once you reach the green complex, things don’t look anywhere near as difficult.
Hole 13 – 311 meter par 4
Getting to the shortest par 4 on the course, we play through a slight chute to reach the fairway far below. There is a lot of room to land the tee shot, depending on the club used, but also big trouble can be encountered. Going left could leave a blind approach, whilst finding the large bunker right, will hinder reaching the green in two. Playing into a strong head wind, this hole played a bit longer so took some of the danger out.
Bunkers protect the 13th green
Playing down wind would bring some of the fairway bunkers into play near the green. If not they are in play making the approach. The putting surface has two distinct tiers to contend with. Good short par 4 where there is a lot of risk if playing towards the green, but lots of safety if conservative from the tee.
Hole 14 – 514 meter par 5
The longest hole on the course, has a dogleg to the right from the tee, before playing fairly straight down to the green.
Approach from the 14th fairway
Some smaller mounds are found on the second half of the hole leading into the green. To me this was probably the least interesting hole on the course. It was fairly flat and lost a bit of the atmosphere with the housing down the left of the fairway.
Hole 15 – 348 meter par 4
The last hole playing away from the clubhouse, this medium length par 4 turns slightly to the left. A few bunkers are located out to the right, whilst wasteland is located on the left, which is the preferred side to make the approach.
Two tiered 15th Green
Bunkers are located down the right and in play if approaching from that side. The putting surface has large ridge creating a tier at the rear. A nice hole before we start the challenge back to the clubhouse.
Hole 16 – 105 meter par 3
Shortest and easiest par 3 on the course, so the card says. This hole looks very scenic, but you know there is trouble lurking everywhere, its just you can’t see all of it.
Extremely small 16th green
With a postage stamp green perched on top of the hill, unless the tee shot is accurate, you will find yourself rolling away from the green. This hole reminds me a bit of the 7th at Barnbougle Dunes, although I am not sure how affected this is with wind conditions. Not sure on the ranking of this hole, but I guess in mild conditions the length of the hole makes it a bit easier. Still requires one accurate tee shot however.
Hole 17 – 381 meter par 4
A long par four which doglegs to the right. From my first view it was tempting to take on the corner bunkers to try and shorten the hole.
Waste area beside the 17th fairway
Unfortunately from the tee this waste area is unseen, so taking on the dogleg can quite easily lead to trouble if you land in here.
The undulating 17th green
Finally getting to the green, there are a few undulations, with the slope mostly coming back toward the front. A tricky green re-enforcing its index 2 on the card. This was a good hole, but certainly requires the experience of playing this at least once, allowing more informed decisions to be made from the tee. Probably a bit more dramatic if the waste area could be seen from the tee also.
Hole 18 – 392 meter par 4
Playing a long par 4 before completing the round, the fairway is partly obscured by shrubs on the right, whilst the left is left open to see the multitude of bunkers awaiting.
A line of bunkers along the 18th fairway
The fairway has quite a bit of small undulations, along with a line of bunkers into the green if playing from the left side.
Looking back from the 18th green
A large green with distinct areas can leave a tricky putt to finish the round. The front and left sides feed away from the center, leaving a shelf towards the rear. Enjoyable hole to play and leave you reflecting on the round.
Generally I would have to greatly praise the course. So many positives are found, substantial differences in hole lengths. Strong mixture of hole directions on the front, which the routing really allows, although the back not quite as evident. One big plus of this links course is not having overly long grass too close to the fairway, helping to speed up play and enjoyment. Definitely the holes closer to the beach areas, were a lot stronger in appearance and play, than those on the flatter areas, which there were not too many.
The facilities were great, along with the friendly staff, making the day that much more enjoyable. I look forward to a return visit some day down the track.
How to play at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links Beach Course:
1. The Beach Course is publicly accessible on certain days. Contact the pro shop to book a tee time or the on-line booking system