Port Fairy Golf Links
Port Fairy Golf Links lies at the eastern end of The Great Ocean Road. Located in Victoria, Australia, The Great Ocean Road is simply jaw-dropping. And because our travels through Australia had been affected by covid, we had the pleasure of driving one of the world’s most iconic drives on three separate occasions.
Besides the stunning beauty of this part of the world, one of the reasons why we took this route was because of the golf. And true links golf in particular. Mr. George Peper and Mr. Malcolm Campbell, authors of one of our favorite golf books True Links, identified 246 authentic links golf courses in the world. Only seven of those courses are in Australia, and Port Fairy Golf Links is one of the precious few.
We arrived in Port Fairy on a warm day in late April. Overhead were picture-perfect blue skies and a gentle breeze that felt like it could pick up later in the day. Getting out of Putu, our campervan, it immediately felt like we were in perfect links-type land. The mounds, contours, tall wispy grasses, all hallmarks of a true links course, were evident even from the parking lot!
Port Fairy measures 6438-yards from the back Blue tees and 5537 from the forward Red tees. Par is 72 from both sets. We paid our incredibly priced $49 dollar weekday green fees, knocked around a few putts, and eagerly made our way to the first tee!
The Front Nine at Port Fairy Golf Links
A Glimpse of What is to Come
The beautiful walk from the second green to the 332-yard par 4 third tee brings you up a small hill and then exposes you to a full view of the ocean. Once you are able to focus again on the task at hand, this short slight dogleg right is more difficult than it might first appear and provides a glimpse of what is to come! I aimed down the right side of the fairway, but my tee shot drew further left than I was hoping. As we approached our second shots, I noticed that there is more room on the right side of the fairway than it looks like from the tee. The slightly elevated green is protected by 2 greenside bunkers on the left, and one on the right. While the green is primarily flat, anything short could run back down the fairway, while long might roll back onto the green. So, if you’re between clubs here, error long.
A Pair of Great Par Threes
Three pot bunkers short protect both sides of the green on the mid-length 183-yard par 3 fourth. A slightly elevated tee plays to a green that is on the same level. And between the tee and the target, the land dips slightly. Both the tee and the green are protected from the wind by the third hole that is on your right. However, between the tee and the target, the land dips and is exposed to the wind. We are sure that we’re not the only players to miss the green left, as the unfelt wind definitely plays a factor!
We were both feeling confident with our games by the time we arrived at the 133-yard par 3 eighth. Playing downhill and with the wind, the large, elevated green is protected 2 large bunkers on the right side and another long left. And the bunker on the right is an absolute no-go! Menekse executed what she likes to call her bread and butter (her 6-iron) perfectly! Pin high, and just to the left of the wooden flag. Trying my best to steal KP from her, my full wedge came down right on the stick but was 20 feet long. We both had birdie putts and collectively played the eighth one under par!
The Back Nine at Port Fairy Golf Links
An Incredible Stretch of Golf Holes
We had heard a lot about the back nine at Port Fairy and were really looking forward to finding out what all the fuss is about. And the 509-yard par 5 twelfth is where the fuss begins! A long straight-away par 5 with nothing but the relentless Great Southern Ocean on your right! Left, obviously, is the safer play off the tee here. However, playing down the right side makes the hole play a little shorter, and is definitely the more beautiful route! Inspired by the view, Menekse absolutely rocked a tee shot, that faded nicely down the right side of the fairway.
Also energized, I followed her lead and hit a great tee shot down the right side on twelve. Approaching my tee ball, I usually don’t go for it on par 5’s, as I rather play to my yardages. Old age perhaps?! However, I had been hitting the ball quite well and decided to give 3-wood a rip. Without fear, my well-struck fairway wood ended up just short of the green. What I couldn’t see from the fairway was a string of about 4 or 5 bunkers left of the green, the safe side of the green. So, in hindsight, a 3-wood might not be the smartest of plays, but you only live once, right?!
Risk and Reward Hole
Continuing along the coastline, there is a very deep fairway bunker on the left of the 304-yard par 4 thirteenth that needs to be avoided at all costs! Making matters more difficult for a player that tends to pull tee shots, the fairway slopes from high right to low left. Standing on the tee while searching for safety, I saw a greenside bunker on the right that looked like the perfect target
I hit another solid driver that luckily had just enough of a touch of a draw to it. Because the greenside bunker that was my target, definitely can come into play on this short par 4!
The Best 14th Hole in Australia
The tee shot isn’t blind, but the green on the number one handicap 446-yard par 4 fourteenth isn’t visible from the tee. But the view of the tee is spectacular! There is a large dune on the right side that is slightly reminiscent of the famous par-4 fifth at Lost Farm. The dune is not quite as tall, and it’s further from the tee, but it is just as noticeable.
Fourteen plays downhill, and the fairway doglegs to the right, but we never thought about trying to cut the corner. We saw there was a white post on the dune on the right and weren’t certain if it placed was there as a target, or as an OB marker. We’ve since learned that is out-of-bounds! Once we made it down the fairway and closer to the dune, we noticed that there is a tall target that sits behind the green on fourteen, one that we didn’t notice from the tee box. From the middle of the fairway, Menekse was just short of the dune, and we had to rely on the target for guidance. I was just a few yards further and had an incredible view of the green. And the ocean in the background!
The scorecard indicates that fourteen is voted the best 14th hole in all of Australia. While we haven’t played all courses in Australia yet, fourteen was our favorite at Port Fairy. And looking back at all the incredible courses we have played in this outstanding country, the fourteenth at PFGL is our favorite 14th as well!
There are no bunkers on the 195-yard par 3 fifteenth. However, with a false front short, and a grassy dune that looks like would be unfindable long, selecting the right club is imperative. With a front left pin, I hit one of the purest 6-irons of my life! It was one of those shots that came off the club perfectly. It was an effortless feeling, and I watched with pride as my ball landed pin-high 12 feet to the left!
This fantastic hole jets out on a little peninsula and offers unending views. We almost felt like we could see all the way down to the Bay of Islands!
The 399-yard par 4 sixteenth is the last of the incredible seaside holes and offers another stunning view from the tee! There is a fairway bunker on the short side of the dogleg left that at first glance is hidden. However, when you have battled a hook your entire life, it immediately grabbed my attention! Aiming down the right, I was expecting my tee shot to draw left, but it stayed straight. From the middle right side of the fairway, I could see that the right side of the green was protected by a pair of bunkers. From another perfectly tight true links lie, I flushed an 8-iron safely to the middle of the green, which left another opportunity for birdie!
Port Fairy is Must Play Golf
The out nine turns in an almost clockwise circular direction, and the in nine encircles the front anticlockwise, or counterclockwise. This means that the wind is constantly changing directions at Port Fairy. It was the final day of April, late fall when we played, and luckily, we escaped the wind that we heard can be very difficult here. Even this late in the season, the golf course was in wonderful condition. The fairways offered perfectly crisp, tight lies. The rough was light, and when we found it, offered a good defense, especially around the greens. And the greens themselves rolled pure and true. We tended to read more break in the putts than there were.
We both hit the ball solidly, played well, and if we could have read the greens better, could have had a pretty decent score. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. That’s golf, right! But at the end of the day, I had a pretty clean scorecard. One bogey, and one birdie, added up for a satisfying even-par round of 72.
With an exceptional back nine, Port Fairy is a must-play golf course, which is why it was on our bucket list. The five-hole stretch of golf from 12 to 16 is just spectacular. World-class actually! And defiantly worthy of all the fuss!