Beaconhills Golf Club
"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to Beaconhills"
The Cardinia Beaconhills golf links was the venue for the review today and I should say straight off the bat, it was an absolutely perfect day for golf. The sun was shining, the wind was slight, the course was in great condition and the company we played in was superb. The team was joined today by a couple of internationals. A Kiwi and an Englishman, that both had their own ideas of the course and provided some good humour to the day.
Although there were some great calls out of the day from the group, you all want to know about the course. To say this golf course is hilly is a gross understatement. Beaconhills means just that, Hills! Plenty of them. From the downhill par 4 to start on 1, to the uphill slow tiring walk of 18, this course just keeps throwing hill after hill at you until you will be begging for mercy. Unfortunately, none will come. If you are to tackle playing this golf course, pack your bag light, have plenty of fluids, maybe some carbs the night before and be prepared to hurt. Or, you could just get a cart, up to you.
Funnily enough, “The Hills” course (wonder how it got it’s name?) is the one we played and their website has a great drone flyover of every hole that you can access through their website. If you are looking to play there, you should check it out. Although this footage is great to see, it really does not give you the full picture of the elevation changes throughout the course. The first is a downhill par 4, gentle opener with space right and a good drive will only leave you with 8/9 iron into the green. The second, although 204 meters on the card, does not play that long, as it is downhill. Take a 4 or 5 iron and try not to miss the green. A bunker in front will catch you short, left and long is a difficult chip back to a pretty flat green.
2 downhill holes to begin with, so you won’t be too tired on reaching the first par 5 of the day, the 3rd. This par 5 has the elevation changes on every shot. Off the tee it heads up and left, on the fairway, side hill then down. Close to the green, it heads left and if you manage to hit the green, the slope will make it hard to putt on. A great hole, that is reachable in 2 if you can play a long iron from a side hill sloping lie. Easy! Back to back par 5’s here on the front 9 and the 4th looks foreboding from the tee. The fairway disappears over another hill and the trees left and right make it look like there is not much landing room at all. Fortunately, there is. Keep it middle or middle left to have the opportunity to go for the green. The green itself is a small target, so laying up may be the smarter choice.
By the 5th tee, there was only one thing I was wondering. Where are the bunkers? There was one on the 1st and one on the 2nd, then one on the 4th. Don’t expect to play many sand shots here as there just isn’t many bunkers. Probably what makes the slope rating here only 114.
The 5th presents you with your first choice in terms of clubs to hit. Until now, I had hit driver on all holes except the par 3, but this 317 meter par 4 is not a driver hole. Take a long iron or hybrid off the tee, hit your wedge to the green and hopefully pick up a birdie or at least, a par. The next very short par 3 uphill seems to be only a filler hole, so make your par and head to another really good hole here, the 7th.
The par 4, 7th hole is the best hole on the front 9. A downhill tee shot to a left sloping fairway, but the hole goes around to the right and back uphill. A fairway wood or cut driver will see you in best position to hit your 8/9 iron to the plateau green. The green itself slopes from back to front and a back pin position will see many 3 putts on any given day.
The 8th is only 343 meters, but plays a little longer due to the second shot being uphill. You must hit the fairway here to go for the green, as tall trees left and right will block you out if you are wayward. The same can be said for the 9th, in fact, both 8 and 9 are very similar. They run side by side and although 9 is a little shorter, if you play them both the same way, you will hopefully make easy pars.
It was only after leaving the 9th green that the Kiwi in the group informed us of some NZ knowledge. He said “These greens are very slow on uphill putts and very fast on downhill ones.” After we all managed to contain ourselves from laughter, he added, “It’s a Kiwi thing.” The chocolates were being taken by the Englishman at this stage, the humour to the Kiwi and the front 9 was done. We headed to the back 9.
You start the back nine with a straight, 486m par 5 down the hill then up to the green. A good drive will leave you anywhere from 180 to 200m to the flag to get home in two. Make sure you take enough club if you’re in the go zone, it’s a fair climb to the green. Putts from behind the hole are quick and putts across the green are tricky.
The 11th is a longish par 3 from an elevated tee to a raised green. Standing on the tee you’re presented with small target that demands the right club choice, you need to be accurate too. Anything short will not run up and misses to the side leaves you with a difficult little chip.
Accuracy off the tee is paramount on the 12th, rated the hardest on the course, if you’re any chance to get home in regulation. Finding the fairway is one piece of this puzzle, the green is small so your second needs to be damn good too, part two solved. Putting is the third section of the equation because subtle breaks demand to don’t switch off!
13 plays longer than the card suggests (156m), it’s uphill all the way to the green and the front rises again guarding against running it up. Putts from below the hole are preferable as downhillers from the behind the hole can get away from you. As our NZ partner kept telling us, “these greens are quick downhill!”
Rarely do you have a tee shot at Beacon Hills that’s flat, it’s either up or down and the 14th is no exception, a par 5 from an elevated tee feels like you’re hitting off a cliff. If you’re long enough and can hit with a reliable draw, this whole will suit you and represents a birdie chance. Play it as a three shotter and give yourself a chance.
The 15th is a short downhill par 3 with bunkers left and right and serious trouble long, come up short and it’s a fairly uncomplicated chip up to the pin.
Whilst the closing holes aren’t long, they are very much designed for ball placement. 16 measures 332m from the tips so the wise choice is a three wood to the left side of the fairway leaving you with a wedge to the largest green on the course. Anything missing right down 16 will be dealt with harshly and par will be out of the question.
You can leave your driver in the bag on the 17th too as three wood to the dogleg and short iron to the green is all that’s required….simple right? If you’re loooong you can run out of fairway centre left and OOB guards the right. Par here is a good score.
At 310m the 18th tempts you to reach for your driver and hit a draw, fairway wood is the choice. OOB down the right and the fairway sloping left into strife, right centre is the ideal line off the tee as the ball will feed back to the middle of the fairway. An uphill shot to a raised green makes club choice important.
The points went to the Englishman and so they probably should have, the only member in the group and a card carrying professional. It was both interesting and educational to watch him plot his way around the course. Nothing spectacular, wise club choices off the tee and informed club selection firing at the pins proved the difference – not to mention the fact that he’s a pro! The big difference though were the misses. Even the best miss, but the very good don’t miss by as much as the average golfer and they still they find a way to putt for par.
Our Kiwi friend blew up on the back nine, he got on the bogey train and it didn’t let him off! What’s more he carried his clubs on a warm day through the hills, brave or silly? Last word on our man from the UK, he turned up with an electric buggy and the boys dished it up, in spades! Turned out to be a wise choice, just ask our man from across the ditch.
Probably one of the most noticeable things about Beaconhills (apart from the hills that is) is the lack of bunkers. Most of the greens were raised though, some with strategic mounding, making accurate chips and pitches paramount. If you short side yourself, don’t try to be too cute. Unless PERFECT, you’ll most likely be chipping again.
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1. Tees 8/15
2. Fairways 9/15
3. Bunkers 8/15
4. Greens 12/15
5. Design 10/15
6. The 19th 12/15
7. Price 9/10
All things considered, Beaconhills is a great experience. Yes, there are a lack of bunkers and the course itself is not as polished as some that we have played. Yes, the slope rating gives the impression that this track could be a pushover. All we can say is, play it for yourself and you will be pleasantly surprised. The tee shots are tight in a lot of places and the club selection and changes in elevation will make you second guess yourself often. Some of the tees were a little sloping, some of the fairways and the rough were a little sparse, but overall, you will enjoy this course. If you don't, you might enjoy the one man band they had playing there on a Sunday afternoon. Perfect on a sunny day with a few drinks. At $30 midweek and $39 on the weekends for green fees, it's very well priced. Go play it!