Mornington Golf Club
Since we have always lived in the Northern Hemisphere, we had never played golf this late in the year before. New Year’s Day, which is Menekse’s birthday, yes. In fact, we did so earlier this year in Oregon! But never this late in December. So, we knew today was going to be a day of firsts when our mate Ross Flannigan invited us to join him for a round of golf at Mornington Golf Club.
Ross is the entertaining host of the My Love of Golf podcast and is simply a great guy. We didn’t know anyone in Australia, and Ross took us in and treated us like Aussies! We met Ross over Instagram and had wanted to play golf with him since the moment we arrived in Melbourne. It took us longer than we thought it would to find the perfect campervan. But, once we had it, we quickly made our way down to the Peninsula to join him.
Mornington Golf Club, also known as “Paradise on the Mornington Peninsula” is “built on one of the highest points in Mornington ensuring wonderful views of Port Phillip Bay”. And what an incredible view it has! On a clear day like we had, it is possible to see all the way to downtown Melbourne in the distance!
With an art deco-styled clubhouse reminiscent of Royal Birkdale, par at Mornington is 72 from the 6605-yard Blue tees and 5519-yards from the Red tees. It was a hot summer day and the dry grass was a welcomed relief from our rather wet journey through New Zealand.
The other first? After nearly a lifetime of dreaming, today was about to be our first time ever playing golf in Australia!
Normally, golf holes that feature water hazards are not among our favorites. But the downhill dogleg right 372-yard par 4 third hole was an exception. With a lake on the right, we had to keep it left off the tee which was into the wind. Menekse found the left side of the fairway, and I was able to draw one safely away from the water.
A slight dogleg left, the 383-yard par 4 sixth offers a “high road / low road” route. Ross said that the right side provides a better angle for the approach, just be careful not to go too far right. Then he proceeded to provide us with the perfect target as he hit another solid driver up the right side. Unfortunately, I was not able to follow his clear directions and blocked my tee shot well right.
The view of the ocean from the smallish sixth green is spectacular, but it is just a preview of the views to come.
It is difficult not to let your mind wander while standing on the seventh tee. With full ocean views on your left, and the signature Mornington logo tree on your right, this 191-yard par 3 is more difficult than you think.
Twists and Jumps
As a kid, I loved my Hot Wheels! I had a small blue carrying case that I carried around the neighborhood as my pride and joy. I also had a fair amount of Hot Wheels tracks. You remember those- they were flexible and very bright orange in color! I spent hours twisting the tracks to see just how much angle each car could handle. And jumps! Each car was required to take death-defying jumps in order to stay amongst my favorites.
When we stepped onto the fourteenth tee, there was something about it that reminded me of my favorite childhood toy. The fairway of this 558-yard par 5 twisted from left to right, and then from right to left. It had just enough angle to tempt us into wondering how much we could handle! Ross told us that there are 3 fairway bunkers on the right side that were hidden from our view. He then showed us a line that cut more off the corner than seemed safe. But, he said, a well-struck ball should be able to jump over the bunkers. A jump off the tee? With excitement in my address, I eyed his target and put together one of my better swings of the day.
Menekse had a different angle to the fairway and we could see the bunkers down the right side when we arrived at her tee. Ross pointed out her target, and she made another good swing banking one down the left side of the first turn.
One of our Favorite Golf Holes
As we walked down the fairway, I swallowed hard as we approached the fairway bunkers. I noticed thankfully that they were empty and breathed a sigh of relief. Excited as I was as a ten-year-old kid, I jumped the bunkers and found my ball with all four wheels safely on the right side of the track!
As we reached the top of the long uphill fairway, we were greeted by an infinity green that reminded us of Pirates Plank at Cape Kidnappers. Fondly reminiscent of my Hot Wheels track, fourteen was one of the most fun golf holes that we have ever played! The only difference was the color. And a missing loop!
Along with fourteen, the fifteenth and sixteenth holes at Mornington Golf Club have one of the greatest nicknames in golf. Known as Baymen Corner, these three holes, together with the nineteenth, are 4 of the most fun golf holes we’ve played!
Baymen Corner’s second hole is the shortish 374-yard uphill par 4 fifteenth. Set high up on the clifftop with incredible ocean views, Menekse wanted a better look at those views and pushed her tee shot a little right. From the middle of the fairway, I missed the green to the right but was able to get up and down for a great saving par.
Rising in the distance, it is easy to see where Volcano, the uphill 141-yard par 3 sixteenth, gets its name. If you can pull your eyes away from the ocean view that is. The final hole of Baymen Corner has 3 pot bunkers short that lend the hole that typical Melbourne Sandbelt look. The distance was perfect for Menekse’s favorite club, her six-iron, and her swing demonstrated it. She landed on, finishing pin high, which provided her with a legitimate putt for birdie.
Between clubs, I on the other hand proceeded to make my worst swing of the day. I am going to blame the view for the fat 9 iron that landed well short of its target. But Mornington Golf Club is a course with multiple distracting views that help make any scorecard eruption seem less disastrous.
The Greatest 19th Hole in Golf
Yes, you read that correctly, we are on record saying that Mornington has the greatest nineteenth hole in all of golf! Nineteen sits between fourteen and fifteen, but it is not technically part of Baymen Corner. The 139-yard downhill par 3 offers one of the most specular views of Melbourne on the golf course. The view of the pin was blocked by the bunker short, but we could see the top of the flag way over on the left corner of the green. Ross said that left is better than the right here, which thankfully suits my game. I made another decent swing and watched the ball descend upon the Melbourne skyline, drawing slightly and landing just right of the pin.
With cameras rolling, Menekse pulled her tee shot safely left of the green. She chipped close but probably focused too much on the ocean and not enough on her putt and missed it left.
The nineteenth was part of an incredible stretch of 4 holes. Along with fourteen, it was one of our favorite golf holes in all our travels!
Our Love of Golf
If you were to ask us to define our love of golf, our answer would be today. Bright blue summer skies. Sweeping ocean views. All while playing golf on a gorgeous golf course with a great mate!
Mornington Golf Club was our last round of 2019, which was a year that we will never forget. We played golf at 43 different golf courses, completing 614 holes. Those rounds were in 8 countries and on three continents!
But 2019 was a year that was much more meaningful to us than just statistics. It was the first full year of our new full-time travels. The beginning of the year saw us tee off into the world with just our golf bags and backpacks on our backs. Something that we had been dreaming of for years, 2019 was the first full year that saw us fully choose our future! Traveling where we wanted to while attempting to play as many of those 450 bucket list golf courses as we could. We are choosing our future. And, we are choosing our definition of our love of golf!
We sincerely enjoyed our time playing golf with Ross. He was the perfect host- giving us the course knowledge we needed. We only wish that we could have utilized it better! But we loved listening to his stories and hearing some behind-the-scenes from his podcasts. And were envious of the courses that he has played! We would not have changed anything about our day. OK, other than that swing on 16! We look forward to many more rounds of golf together when we return to Melbourne later in 2020.
Mornington Golf Club was the perfect start to our golf travels in Australia, and we are excited to see where this journey of ours will lead us!
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A wonderful priveledge to host your first Aussie round at a course that means so much to me. Mornington GC is one of the most beautifully located courses in Victoria. Enjoyed returning to my original home of golf in Victoria with you guys. Thanks to Craig and Faz.
Thank you for your wonderful note Ross. We had such an unforgettable day at Mornington GC and look forward to many more fun rounds of golf together!
Yours in golf,
Menekse and James