The 2019 Presidents Cup featured a splendid performance by Tiger Woods, both as player and captain, thrilling competition between the United States and International sides and the emergence of young pros Sungjae Im and Abraham Ancer.
But the real star of the weekend was Royal Melbourne, the exquisite Alister MacKenzie design in the Sandbelt, which rewarded angles over power, demanded accuracy approaching the greens and tested each player’s touch, nerve and mental acumen.
The 16th hole, a 433-yard par-4, was one of our favorites. The players favored the right side of the fairway, unafraid to miss wide in the wispy rough, to assure the proper angle into a undulating green, allowing them to feed their approach shots in from right-to-left and set up makeable putts. Woods closed out his singles match with Ancer on the 16th, draining a 15-foot birdie to give the United States the first point of the final day and jump start the comeback that produced a 16-14 victory.
Of course, the glowing reviews Royal Melbourne received from players and spectators alike were no surprise to PerryGolf guests, who have enjoyed the temperate climate and finely manicured courses offered throughout the region and across Australia on many occasions. The friendly people and pleasant conditions make the land Down Under one of the five top international golf destinations each year.
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Not only is Melbourne, second-largest city in Australia, a delightful destination but there are seven world-class courses within 20 miles of downtown. Each is renowned for firm, fast turf and sharp greenside bunkers which can pose a problem to even the most advanced short game.
Royal Adelaide has undergone renovations since Dr. MacKenzie designed the course in the 1920s, however, it retains a true links feel, making it unique in a region that features mostly parkland courses. Commonwealth Golf Club, which has played host to the Australian Open, Women’s Australian Open and Victoria Open, finishes with one of the most demanding stretches anywhere. There’s only one water hazard on the layout, but ample trouble lurks. Victoria Golf Club, which recently underwent a renovation by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM), is where Peter Thomson, five-time champion of The Open, and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy learned the game. A three-time host of the Australian Open (and future home of the 2022 Australian Open), the layout also welcomed the Australian Masters in 2010 and 2011 with countryman Stuart Appleby and England’s Ian Poulter hoisting the trophy. Kingston Heath, home to the 2016 World Cup of Golf and 2020 Australian Open, may have the most extreme green complexes of any Sandbelt course and the native grasses bordering the fairways provide sharp definition on rugged land. While all the courses take pride in their excellent condition, using Sutton’s Mix to craft fine putting surfaces, Metropolitan Golf Club (home to the 2018 World Cup of Golf) deserves the accolades it receives for being the best of the best from a conditioning standpoint year round. The marquee courses don’t stop there – also deserving of mention include: Yarra Yarra Golf Club, Woodlands Golf Club, Huntingdale Golf Club and Spring Valley Golf Club. An hour away is the Mornington Peninsula, home to three brilliant courses at The National, plus Sorrento Golf Club and the Tom Doak designed St Andrews Beach Golf Course.
The ideal weather and gently rolling terrain make all of the Sandbelt courses a pleasant walking experience.
Away from the course, take a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens, an 89-acre park founded din 1846 that features more than 8,500 plant species, peaceful lakes and lush lawns. Tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, with a capacity of 100,000 spectators has served as host for World Cup Finals, Pope John Paul II and the Rolling Stones. The National Sports Museum, which reopens in February 2020 to unveil a massive renovation, is located adjacent to the stadium.
Guests wanting to view Melbourne from an eagle’s perspective will not want to miss the Eureka Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest public vantage point. Feeling brave? Step out to The Edge and peer across the vast cityscape with nothing but air beneath you.