Victoria's Best Public 18 holes
Each of our best holes will have expert comments on how they should be played by Australian touring professional Ash Hall.
Ash won the Master of the Amateurs event in 2005, the Vic Open in 2009, the 2016 Vic PGA and lost to Jordan Speith in a playoff for the Emirates Australian Open in 2016.
Ash has competed in 2 Open Championships so we think he knows a little bit about how to best attack a golf hole. It's great to have Ash on board at Daddyshack.
Moonah Links - Legends Course
Nothing beats standing on an elevated 1st tee with driver in hand and a wide open target before you. The opening hole at Moonah Legends is easy on the eye, but temper your enthusiasm, there's work to be done. Designed in 2004 by Ross Perrett and nicknamed "Aaron Baddeley" this 1st hole is a great start to our best 18.
According to Ash Hall, there's two ways to play this gettable 487-meter par-5.
Feeling good? Cut it off the left side fairway bunker, catch the downhill run to finish right center. A right side finish helps take the left greenside bunkers out of the equation on approach. Depending on wind and how well you catch your drive, you're left with a mid to long iron to a raised green.
Now if you haven't got the tag "pro golfer" attached to your name, 3 solid shots and a couple of putts will do most of us nicely - thank you very much!
A left center drive (where the space is) followed by solid iron to the right side sets up a comfortable wedge to a fairly flat green. Drop a putt for birdie, but par isn't a bad way to start.
Golf's a game of decisions and execution. Standing on the 2nd tee at St Andrew Beach there's but one decision; lay up or go for it! This Tom Doak classic risk/reward design measures nearly 280m off the back and puts the green in range for the big hitters when downwind. A well struck high draw using the contours of the land might just give you a chance at eagle.
Not feeling it? A comfortable long iron left of the fairway bunker will leave a flat lie and shooting down the length of the green. Apparently it's the easiest hole on the course, make the wrong decision or don't execute and a big number is possible. Bunkers left, right and middle from the tee and more on the left and back of the green makes this a very tough test. Worthy of its place as our best 2nd Victorian public golf hole.
According to Ash Hall it all depends on the wind. If it's favorable I like to have a go but you haven't got much margin for error. The best place to miss is right but that can leave a tricky pitch. An iron to the left center lets you fire down the length of the green but you need to take into account the elevation. Anything short will feed back towards you, maybe into the left green-side bunker.
After easing you into your round, St Andrews Beach bares its teeth at the 3rd. "The Chute" is a 405m par-4 that's rated the 2nd hardest hole on the course and for good reason too. First timers will be patting themselves on the back after finding the fairway off the tee but their mood may swing when they stare down their 2nd. A narrow opening can make you feel claustrophobic but once you negotiate "The Chute", you'll find you had more room than you initially thought.
Here's Ash Hall's take on how to attack "The Chute". Take driver off the tee and bite off as much of the dogleg as you feel comfortable with - a nice cut finishing right side of the fairway is best. Center-right gives you a better angle at the green with a shorter iron in hand. Your 2nd always seems to play touch longer, about half a club. The best place to miss is left and even slightly long as it's an easier chip or putt to the green than slopes unusually front to back.
For the weekend warrior, you're almost better off playing it as a par 5 - unless you stripe your drive. A decent drive to the center-left leaves you with the option of laying up just short of the chute or going for it. Because of the punch bowl style green, shots landing left side should feed onto the green but make sure you are long enough. Short left and right is trouble that leaves little chance to get up and down - in fact finding your ball may prove difficult.
The 4th at Flinders, more commonly known as "The Coffin" is easily the layout's most famous hole, it may even be the most famous hole on the Mornington Peninsula. At just 272-meters, it will have the first timers licking their lips. But be warned, the remains of many a golfer, in both of the two coffins that cut into the short fairway, lie in wait for you. The first will swallow any mishit drive, the second any hero that falls short of the green!
In the words of Ash Hall: "The 4th at Flinders, love that hole. Iconic! If it's calm I can reach the green with a 3 wood. If there's wind I will try and get as far up and left as I can with a long iron to leave more of a pitch or chip rather than a full shot. The green is tilted very heavily back to front so the ball cam spin too much with a full wedge shot. True risk/reward hole".
Ash is right, risk or reward? Most of us should err on the side side of conservatism, regardless of the wind. Left and long are not options, you're dead either way. Regardless of the wind, take iron off the tee and give yourself the best chance to hit the green in regulation. Try not to hit your approach above the hole because if you do and they're quick, you just might put off the front of the green. Everyone who's played Flinders remembers the 4th and what they scored.
Unless you've played the famed "Tombstone Challenge", chances are you've never pegged it at the 5th off the tips. A 473-meter par-5, No.5 at the Dunes is no snack. Out-of-bounds runs the entire length of the hole down the left, a blind tee shot over a big dune and plenty of sand waiting to swallow your 2nd and/or your 3rd shot. A couple of lusty blows may give you a look at eagle, 3 well placed shots will give you a look at birdie.
"Your tee shot is crucial", explains Ash Hall. "I try and get out there long and center-right, as close to the dune that eats into the fairway. A right center finish sets the hole up nicely and makes the layup easier. You're not trying to carry the left side fairway traps and pull up short of the ones on the right - you can fire straight down the fairway. The 3rd shot requires a half to a full club more due to it being slightly uphill. The undulating green is sneaky fast sloping hard back to front, finish under the hole."
The weekend warrior, which makes up most of the golfing population, should follow Ash Hall's advice. OK so you wont be as long, but this hole is a position hole and getting to right spot for your next removes a lot of extra stress. Try to get your drive to the right side then either lay up sort of the fairway bunkers on the left or position your ball dead center for a shot straight up the green. Try, if you can, to leave your approach under the hole as down-hillers will get way from you.
The par-3 6th is Eagle Ridge's signature hole, and for good reason. Standing on the tee it's difficult NOT to notice all the trouble. There's more sand between you and the green than there is on the Portsea back beach. The average size green has 2 tiers making distance control key as 3 (or more) putts is a likely possibility if you don't nail your yardage. Rated the 8th hardest hole on the course, the 6th green is heavily guarded; sand, swales, humps and bumps are all strategically placed guard the green.
Ash Hall says, "The most important object of this hole is to get your ball on the same level as the pin. The green has 2 tiers and putts up or down the step are fraught with danger. All the trouble is short so you need to know your distances and chose your strategy (and club) wisely. If the pin is cut on the top tier, slightly long isn't a bad miss."
The average man (which is most of us) needs to look at the pin...and nothing else. Don't let all the trouble distract you from your goal - to hit a clean shot and land it on the short stuff. At 170m off the tips, most will need a mid to long iron to get it all the way there. Don't be shy, take enough club to get there and commit.
The Dunes is often rated the best public access course in Victoria and it's easily among the best 50 in the country. The Tony Cashmore design is a stern test that weaves it way over, through and around natural sand dunes - and the par-5 7th is no exception. At 521-meters off the tips, a couple decent blows are necessary if you want a look at an eagle putt.
Ash Hall explains: The 7th at the Dunes is a cool drive with the line close to the white aiming stone on the left dune. Balls will always feed right so make sure you start your drive far enough left. When approaching the green, a left to right shot is preferable as it stands a better chance of holding. The green falls away from the fairway so a high cut is the ticket.
Play this hole down the left - left center off the tee again with your 2nd. A tee shot finishing left side avoids "Tom Watson's" bunker at the 250-m mark, a small bunker with a big ball magnet! To get the best angle at the pin, you will again need to place your 2nd left center. The large undulating green offers up many pin locations and proximity is crucial if you want a chance at birdie.
Lang Lang GC
Those of you who follow us on social media know we have great affection for Lang Lang. It's a beautifully conditioned, testing layout where visitors are always made to feel very welcome. If you can play to your handicap at Lang Lang, you can play to it just about anywhere. Tight fairways and small, fast greens will sort out complacency pretty quickly indeed.
How much do you want to shave off the corner, is the question Ash Halls asks himself on the tee. If you're confident you can hit a big slider over the corner with your driver, you will be rewarded with the much shorter shot for your 2nd. If you're not feeling it, the more conservative line is a long iron right-center. This will leave a much more difficult 2nd to a small, heavily bunkered green.
The 8th hole is difficult, in fact it's bloody difficult. If you take driver out on the tee, you'd better be confident of hitting a controlled cut otherwise you will run out of fairway. Take your 3-wood or long iron off the tee for safety and you're left with a long uphill approach to a small green heavily guarded by sand. A miss short and right in the front bunker is preferable to anything left. Walk off with a par on the 375-m par-4 and it will almost feel like a birdie (for most of us).
Moonah Links - Legends Course
495 meter, Par 5
Each hole on the Legends layout bears the name of a golfing superstar - legend if you will. The 9th at Moonah Legends is named after one of the greatest players of all time - Gary Player. And just like the South African legend, it's tough.
Ash Hall: the 9th is a brute, It's a big, long par 5 that for the majority of the time, plays as a genuine 3-shotter. It demands 3 well executed shots to get a realistic look at birdie. Get your drive in the fairway then aim your 2nd up the left side. This will open up the green and give you the best angle at the pin. The green slopes hard from back to front, so leave your 3rd under the hole. Long is dead, getting up and down from behind the green is more good luck than good management.
If it's good enough for a professional to treat this hole as a 3-shotter, it's good enough for the rest of us to do so too. Sure, some of us might just play 2 of the best shots we are are capable of - but sitting on the green in 3 is better than lying dead in 2. Play this hole wisely and a 4 is within reach, play it like a weekend hacker seeking glory and double (or worse) awaits!
Berwick Montuna GC
354 meter, Par 4
Moonah Links - Legends
272 meter, Par 4
140 meter, Par 3
457 meter, Par 4
420 meter, par 4
318 meter, par 4
197 meter, Par 3
465 meter, Par 5
181 meter, Par 3