Nomadic_golfer : December 2020
Par 72, 6023m (Black 6489m), slope 121, green fee variable
3 par 3s from 159-208m, 12 par 4s from 269-394m, 3 par 5s from 457-518m
A quick trip to Melbourne gave me the opportunity for a bit more golf. First up, the newest track at The National. The old Ocean track has ben remodelled by Tom Doak and the result is Gunnamatta.
The Ocean was tough, exposed and near unplayable on a very windy day, which you get often on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula. Doak’s brief was to turn it into a course that is playable by every level of player, is fun to play and playable under any conditions. I reckon he succeeded and it reopened in April 2019 to rave reviews.
Fairways are wide, though there is always a preferred side for the better golfer to access the day’s pin position on the very large greens. As with all The National’s courses, pin positions make a massive difference to the difficulty of almost every hole. The bunkering is fantastic, and combined with the myriad of sea views, makes for spectacular scenery.
The greens are an A1 and Pure Distinction mix and are absolutely pure. Their size, shape, contours and undulations are probably the most memorable feature of the course. Surrounds are fescue with couch fairways.
In keeping with the ‘fun and playable’ theme, the start is very generous: a short par 5 and two short 4s to start with, all with wide fairways. The 2nd is an absolute ripper, 290m with the green up against an OB fence on its left, offering many different options off the tee. The green on the 321m 8th is a highlight (pictured below, main & bottom left): playing your 2nd from between a gap in sand dunes you encounter a boomerang shaped green wrapped around a short left bunker. There are many routes to the pin on this hole. Similarly, the uber-narrow green on the 361m 12th is memorable and provides a bit of mound protection either side to sling it back into play.
The finish is the strength though; 16-18 are world class. 16 and 17 both very exposed, pointing west with the ocean in the background. 16 is a very difficult 180m with bunkers left and gnarly stuff right, 17 a drivable par 4 to an elevated green with terror all around and 18 a 400m par 4 to a narrow fairway and massive bunkerless green with lots of nuances (bottom right).
Overall, this top shelf, user-friendly layout offers something different to The National’s other 3 courses and has proven very popular amongst members. The 4 courses at this club are exceptional and ranking them is subjective and dangerous. For mine, in the category of the most honest test of golf, Long Island gets my vote!