1 Dec 2012

According to reliable industry sources, plans have been confirmed for the new private St Andrews Beach golf course on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Named St Andrews Private Golf Club, the layout will be designed by veteran architect Ross Perrett and sit alongside the existing Tom Doak-designed St Andrews Beach golf course.

Interestingly, the development’s current business plan includes a limited membership cap of just 281, with each member required to invest more than $90,000 to become a 'part-owner' in the club. Subsequent fees are expected to be approximately $5,000 per year. As a point of reference, joining the nearby National Golf Club, which has 54 holes including 18 by Thomson Perrett, will currently cost less than $10,000. Given the history of the St Andrews Beach golf development this seems a high-risk venture.

For those unfamiliar with the area, Tom Doak originally designed 36 holes at St Andrews Beach for Golf Club Properties, who charged luckless investors $50,000 for a membership but ran into financial hardships shortly after the first course opened. The entire site was later purchased by an Asian investor, who turned the existing Doak golf course into a public facility and sold off the excess land to a local businessman. That businessman, Randal Shreeve, has decided to continue with the second golf course concept, but to use Perrett instead of Doak to attract a high-end private club clientele. Perrett designed the nearby Legends course at Moonah Links while his firm was also responsible for the Open Course at Moonah Links, the Ocean course at The National and dozens more across Australia.

According to the Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association, fairway areas have already been sprayed out and construction on the new course will begin sometime in January 2013. The association reported that the new layout will feature revetted bunkers, bentgrass putting surfaces and three ‘massive’ double green complexes. Designer Perrett says he is ‘confident that we will produce a world class links course on a superb parcel of land reminiscent of the great links of Scotland and Ireland.’ Peter Thomson added that, ‘the area already has seven outstanding courses and the new course at St Andrews Beach could be the best yet.’

While there is no doubt that the Cups region on the Mornington Peninsula is ideal for golf, there is some debate over the quality of the existing courses down there. None are regarded as truly world-class, which would seem a minimum benchmark for success on a project like this. Whether Ross Perrett can produce the sort of high-quality course needed to attract an investment of close to $100,000 from new members remains to be seen. What we can say with a degree of confidence is that he is unlikely to get a better opportunity to best anything his company has done in the past. At an absolute minimum, St Andrews Private Golf Club needs to be the best Thomson Perrett course on the market - by a considerable margin.

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