Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club - North Course

Australia, Victoria, Melbourne, Sandbelt
7 (126)
Course Opened: 1969

The Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club is a private members club. Visitors from Interstate or Overseas are welcome during certain periods of the week. Such visitors will need to be members of a recognised golf club, with a current membership identification card or a letter of introduction from the home club. Contact Planet Golf for assistance with tee times.

‘Peninsula North was a wonderful piece of land for golf but it was hampered by some very poor holes that were fortunately very easily reorganized into a significantly better course that took advantage of the potential of the site. The course is not long, nor particularly difficult but it's full of holes that are really fun to play.’ Michael Clayton

Located in the bayside city of Frankston, the Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club has two fine courses beautifully positioned geographically within the Melbourne Sandbelt yet only minutes from the thriving Mornington Peninsula. The club was originally founded in 1924 but only became a significant member of the Victorian Sandbelt in the 1960’s when it moved to an adjacent property and local golf identity Sloan Morpeth built its North and South courses.

While Morpeth incorporated twelve holes from the original layout into the South Course, the North Course, which was built on the undulating sandy high ground, was totally new. For more than thirty years the South Course, with its championship length and difficulty, was considered the club’s premier layout, the shorter and quirky North Course built on the more dramatic land yet less regarded because of its unconventional design. At the turn of the 20th century the club employed local golf designer Michael Clayton to oversee revisions to all 36 holes. The result of work done to the North Course in 2002 transformed the little course with infinite potential into the new darling of the Melbourne Sandbelt.

Although the routing was not significantly altered, Clayton’s changes were considerable and included a number of superb ‘new’ golf holes built along existing lines. His team added areas of native vegetation to create a number of spectacular vistas, especially on the short 2nd and 14th holes, which received the most substantial facelifts. The wild and unkempt appearance of the heathland grasses that line fairways and greens was in keeping with true Sandbelt traditions, and helped the course rise from outside Australia’s Top 100 to inside the Top 30 on most credible ranking lists.

Fast forward a decade, and in 2014 the club merged with the Kingswood Golf Club and sold its Kingswood site in Dingley to fund major redevelopment of both golf courses in Frankston as well as a new clubhouse and accommodation precinct. Once again it was Mike Clayton’s company, now in partnership with Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Cocking and Ashley Mead, who were engaged to oversee redesign works.

For many years the biggest weakness with the golf offering at Peninsula was conditioning. The club had long struggled to keep its greens as firm as those at Sandbelt neighbours, and the golf holes as a result suffered. There is no sense of strategy, or of being out of position, when soft greens are so receptive to high, floating approach shots. Without question, the chief benefit of the merger and the access to additional funds was having the ability to create a separate irrigation mainline and to use purer water on the greens. During the redevelopment project, all 36 greens were reconstructed and grassed with Pure Distinction bentgrass. They now provide members with a superb surface the equal, if not the envy, of other clubs on the Melbourne Sandbelt.

The North Course upgrade took place after the South, and though originally slated as minor the layout is undergoing significant redesign works across most holes. Bunkers are again a dominant feature, with the two bunkerless greens no longer free of sand and holes like the short 14th almost encircled by traps. It will be interesting to review the new layout when finished in 2018. The previous version tested players with strategy and subtlety rather than length, and took great advantage of the rolling ground upon which its holes were set.

The variety of shotmaking challenges is the track’s greatest asset, the par threes running to all points of the compass and the short to medium length par fours bending both ways and sloping up, down and across the tumbling hills. The front nine is built on the more dramatic land but the best stretch of golf starts with the 12th, an uphill par four with a hogs backed fairway lined by a sandy hazard that runs the length of the hole. The next is a short four with a nasty hourglass green that is tiny, tiered and almost impossible to hold, while the once drab par three 14th now plays into a wide, sloping green built into a sizeable sand dune and framed by sublime bunkers.

Aside from Royal Melbourne and parts of Victoria, Peninsula’s North Course is as good a golf site as any in Melbourne, and Morpeth’s original design had always used the natural movement to great effect. The past two Clayton/OCCM redesigns have given the course an entirely new look and feel, and the members at Peninsula Kingswood something to be genuinely proud of.

 

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