Flinders Golf Club
"So, I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to Flinders"
Having played just about every golf course on the Mornington Peninsula in my 30+ years of golf, I was over the moon when a friend called me and invited me to the one course I had never played, Flinders.
He had booked us for a 8:06am tee time on a Monday and the weather was looking a little shakey in the forecast. Showers with gusts of strong winds and perhaps an afternoon thunderstorm, with the odd fine patch. Sounds like a typical Melbourne forecast. Leaving home at 6:15 to make the journey, we were a little apprehensive as we drove through light showers most of the way down there. As soon as we reached the course, the heavens really opened and the winds became so strong that we did not leave the safety of the car for a good 20 minutes.
Slowly, but surely though, the locals started arriving and heading to the tee. "They know something we don't know" was the call, so we waited again for another 5-10 minutes. Just as we were ready to call it off, the sky began to turn blue. The clouds went away and the sun came out. We headed to the pro shop.
Only $39 was the price for 18 holes, so we happily paid and stripped out of our wet weather gear and headed to the 1st tee. All of the holes at Flinders have names attatched to them. It's a european thing mostly, but I like the idea as it gives the course designers scope to spice up any hole with a great sounding name. The 1st was called "Maxwell" and it was a very short 234 meter par 4. Only a hybrid was needed to play safe, but if you hit a fairway wood you can reach it. The green is protected by a few bunkers, so the hybrid is the smart play early.
The 2nd is called "St Andrews" unsure why as it didn't really bear any resemblance to the Old Course, but it was a clever little slight dog leg par 4 with the road and OOB on the left. "West Head" was the next. A long par 3 of 195 that will usually be played into the coastal winds. This was a tough test as we both hit long hybrids, but came up very short. Across the narrow road and over to the cliffs. Right against the coast is the short par 4 hole named "The Coffin." Not a name that inspired great confidence in me as the slight rain and wind had returned. The hole itself has a few deep channels that run across it and you should do your best to play right and avoid them.
My scorecard was looking like Sergio Garcia's at this time. Though 4 holes without a par, but even. The bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie start was in need of some consistancy. The 5th hole was the first time I had pulled out driver so far and the wide fairway looked inviting on the "Beach Hole." I suppose named because the beach is visible to the left of the tee here. A dog leg 458 meter par 5, gave me my first par of the day and a nice chip in from my playing partner gave him his first birdie.
Back up and over the hill on the 6th "The Hill." Again, not the most impressive use of the imagination, but accurate. The green is tucked away up to the left and you should keep your tee shots either centre or right, as left is no good here. The next hole is "Casuarina" and it is another driver hole. A dam to the right needs to be avoided, as well as fairway bunkers left and right. With the wind at our backs however, we launched drives here over the fairway bunkers and only had wedges into the small sloping green. "Pine Gap" was the next and you do tee off through tall pines on either side. Avoid the left side traps and you can hit a 8/9 iron to the green. "Tea House" a 174 meter par 3 rounds out the front 9.
Strictly speaking Flinders is not an out and back style course, but once you've teed off the first, you do not see the pro shop again until the 18th hole, so make sure you take an extra drink or snack with you.
The 10th (Darly) heads along the left border of the property and has an interesting green. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go past the pin here as the green slopes severely from back to front. The next few holes I found to be the perfect way to sum up Flinders. The 11th, "Fairy Dell" starts the run of quirky holes. A short 260 meter par 4 with a dam over the back and a right side tucked green. Take 4 iron off the tee over the white post. 12 "Aunt Sally" is a great little downhill par 3 of only 140 meters. It only plays like 110 though, so just take wedge. The run continues with the 13th, "Racecourse." This is a strangely positioned left dog leg with a sloping fairway, lots of humps and thick trees. Missing this fairway will not end well and a lost ball will likely follow. If you manage to get around the corner, the green sits far back and to the left. Hidden bunkers surround it, so don't miss. Although indexed 3, I found this to be the hardest hole on the course. This run of strange, quirky, visualy stunning and entertaining holes is the best part of the course.
The 14th (Shooting Gallery) is a turn back towards the beach and played into the breeze. The par 3 can be reached easily with a long iron. Try to avoid the bunkers short as they are deep and big.
The 15th tee is out in the middle of nowhere. The ground is open and the name of the hole, "Siberia," is a good one. It's the 2nd of only 2 par 5's on the course. At 495 meters, it suggests length, but the off shore breeze took our drives very long, leaving us only mid irons to be putting for eagle. Unfortunately, we both walked off the green with birdies. Not a bad score, but this hole promised us so much more.
Up until now, the golf course had been very open. Yes, there were trees along the sides of fairways, but not to the point that you could not get through them, or see the other fairway. It's links, but different. Standing on the 16th tee though, this looked to be changing. A strong line of thick cypress trees down the left and thick trees right gave this hole, "Lambertiana" a more menacing look. I don't know who Lambertiana was or is, but they may have been tough and uncomprimising. A small green awaits at the end of this difficult par 4.
The next par 3, "Lakeside," had no lake that I could see, but did have a small pond and plenty of ball losing trees to the right. Missing this green may cost you more than one stroke and although it does play back into the breeze, the surrounding trees made it seem very calm here.
That brings us to the 18th. The aptly named "Home" is only 315 meters, but the hole doglegs to the left and up the hill a little. The tee shot is tough if you can't play a draw and the green has a false front to it making club selection difficult for your second shot. With a good drive away however, you will only have a wedge in, so knock it close, say "Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na!" And enjoy the closing birdie.
Glad I finally got to play Flinders. It's a very different experience to the courses that surround it in the area, but very entertaining, in good condition and has plenty of photo opportunities. Don't get the cart, walk it instead.
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1. Tees 9/15
2. Fairways 13/15
3. Bunkers 9/15
4. Greens 13/15
5. Design 9/15
6. 19th 8/15
7. Price 7/10
Some of the tees were a little unkept, sloping or in strange positions. The fairways were very nice, as were the greens, but some of the bunkers were a little thin on sand covering. The design is quirky, as mentioned, but overall the Driver will stay in your bag for most of the day. The course is only 5212 meters, so not overly long or tough. If you have played all the rest down that way, give Flinders a go. It will really appeal to those wanting a fun foursome day out. The course won't appeal to those who want to smash the driver all day, but sometimes those days are more rewarding in other ways. Sharpen your short game, your wind game, your placement game and go play it!