The second course at the Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads, the Creek Course was designed by Tony Cashmore in partnership with Nick Faldo and opened for play in 2004.
The original concept here was for a creek, or series of creeks, to cut across the property and compensate for the fact that, unlike its older sibling, this layout lacks the natural drama of the coastal dunes. Over time, the creeks were mostly converted into swales and perhaps as a result it has taken the Creek Course longer to establish itself in the hearts and minds of Victorian golfers.
There is some really strong golf here, and excellent turf conditioning. The bunkering, greens contouring and general ebb and flow of the routing is mostly sound, and provide a terrific back-up option for members and guests visiting the club. There aren't quite the knockout holes or the stretches of great golf that define the older Beach Course, but several areas of the Creek Course do standout. These include the punchbowl-like green on the par four 5th, the treacherously difficult angled target on the short par four 9th and the charming low-set approach into the long par four 16th.
Changes to bunkering on the very strong 11th have also improved that hole considerably, with both longer hitters and shorter players able to risk sand off the tee in order to shorten the approach shot. Like several other greens, the 11th is slightly perched, quick and surrounded by impressive bunkers and chipping swales. Changes to the inside dogleg bunkers on the left-bending 4th hole have also made a considerable difference.
Aside from a reduction in the number of bunkers and improvements to the quality of the sand traps, the other prominent change made to the Creek Course in recent times was the extension of fairway left of a signature tree on the short par four 14th hole. Golfers can still play the hole as a lay-up wedge shot out to the fat side of the fairway, or they can take on water up the narrow left side and try to leave themselves a shorter approach from a much more optimal angle.
The overall routing and the collection of contrasting mid-length par fours are probably the strength of the Creek Course, along with the quick bent grass greens and the couch / fescue fairways and surrounds.
Always destined to live in the shadow of its glamorous big brother, the Creek Course is nonetheless a nice track and a pleasant alternative for those contemplating a 36-hole day at Thirteenth Beach, or the wider Bellarine Peninsula area.
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