Southern Golf Club

Australia, Victoria, Melbourne, Sandbelt
5.4 (105)
Course Opened: 1949

Once regarded as the hidden jewel of Melbourne's Sandbelt region, the Southern Golf Club was founded by public course golfers from Brighton who in 1949 built a new golf course near the suburb of Dingley. Designed initially by Sam Berriman, the Southern layout is situated in close proximity to other second-tied Sandbelt clubs like Keysborough, Kingswood and Spring Valley. Berriman's course was first altered by Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge in the 1970s, then more radically by legendary club member Bob Shearer from 1990 to the 2010s.

The current Southern golf course has both strong points and major shortcomings. Turf standards are typically quite high, and some of the established trees are attractively used within the design of holes. The actual design employed and the contrast between the shaping of greens and bunkers is clearly its weakness. There are also two distinct parcels of land here, with the back paddock much flatter and less established than the older holes which occupy heavily treed ground that is full of decent undulation. This contrast was more noticeable in the past, when the back area comprised the central holes and nines didn't return to the clubhouse. The moving of the clubhouse from its northern boundary to a central position in the early 2000s helped disguise these land differences, and also allowed greater flexibility in terms of tee times and course usage.

The problem with the rerouted layout, however, is that the disappointing holes and poor shaping work are littered across both nines. The flatter front has a mix of dull fairways and bland low-set features with other holes that look overdone and seem built for eye-candy. The use of symmetrical mounding also grates. The back nine too has similar issues. Although the golf and terrain is far more interesting, there are subtle greens with gentle tilts and others that are surrounded by mounds and whose internal shapes border on the extreme. There are also trees intruding too far on holes like the 10th and 12th. In terms of design, the bunkering around greens like the 11th and 15th lacks any strategic sense while putting contours on the 12th and 16th are too steep. Some of the longer fours here are reasonably good, but there is little point attacking any of the short par fours or fives.

Southern has the potential to be one of Melbourne's real sleepers, but the difference between the heavy shaping and the subtle slopes is far too noticeable and there aren't enough outstanding holes to get overly excited about. If the club wishes for the course to be more highly regarded by non-members, they would need to do something about the bunker design and construction, reshape several greens and rethink the playing strategy on the short fours and fives. It sounds a lot but the routing doesn't need radical change and with a sensible long-term approach to redesign most of the problem spots could be corrected. Southern is a fine club, on the brink of owning a very good golf course.


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