By Chris Vogt
Two bayside golf clubs in Melbourne are just the ticket for a peaceful day…
The sandy land of Melbourne’s south east has long provided a fertile base for the state’s best golf courses. The honour roll includes Kingston Heath, Yarra Yarra, and the incomparable Royal Melbourne. Nestled comfortably nearby are two lovely layouts just oozing character.
Cheltenham Golf Club’s nine holes share a boundary and topography with the mighty Victoria Golf Club. The course dips and rolls over wonderful sandbelt country. Tight driving holes and speedy greens call for a sharp game. There are no poor lies on the fairways, and the birdlife, sea breezes and glorious tree-lines bring much pleasure to a round here.
The club put down roots in 1930, and has been quite content in the shadows of its illustrious neighbours. The members use two sets of tees for a full round and afterward retire to a comfortable clubhouse with every amenity. The public can play here outside competition times and the clubhouse is theirs to enjoy, too.
U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy cut his golfing teeth at Cheltenham, before moving next door to test his enormous potential on a more challenging layout. He speaks of great times there, and acknowledges its place in his career. For those with lesser ambitions, Cheltenham is a course you can play forever.
A little further down the bay road lies another 9-holer. Frankston Golf Club is unique, at least in this part of the world. Tucked away from the town centre and busy beach area, the club seems outside mainstream golf club life. There’s no gate, no signage, no website. And it’s all the better for it.
The course slices through the soaring gums found everywhere in this area, and stretches of low bushy scrub provide adventure for the wayward. There’s no serious length here, and one is thankful for that; Frankston’s compact, contained golf course is part of its charm. So is the peace, the seclusion, and glimpses of the sparkling bay. But for the bellbirds, one might doze off under a shady eucalypt.
Frankston’s clubhouse is a joy to behold. Low, solid and inviting, with furniture from another time. There’s no staff here; it’s BYO, DIY, and beyond comfortable. It’s a true clubhouse, run by members, for members only.
A game at Frankston is tough to get. If you do, the club’s rare attributes are unforgettable. For the rest, how wonderful to know places like this are still doing it their way in the face of inexorable progress.