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Feature Course

National Golf Club

Course Review

Description Three 18 hole courses. Located on the Mornington Peninsula coastline, The Old Course designed in 1988 features spectacular ocean views. The Moonah Course is a links style that debuted in the Top 10 courses in Australia. The Ocean Course combines the vast knowledge of links golf of its designers and is based on the great links of Scotland and Ireland. Strict dress code. Overseas and interstate visitors with handicap accreditation received by advance booking in writing to the Director of Golf. Bookings essential.
Cups Drive 
Cape Schanck VIC 3939
Club Phone (03) 5988 6777
Club House bar, dining room and locker room facilities
Green Fees A private club, open to members and invited guests only. Members of Golf Clubs from overseas and interstate may apply to the Manager to establish playing conditions. Introduction from home club required.

Course information sourced from non-current edition of The GOLF Course Guide, Click here for details

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Course Details

Holes 18
Length 6576
Golf Digest Ranking (Private Club – not ranked by The GOLF Course Guide) 11
Designer Greg Norman, Bob Harrison
Holes 18
Length 6313
Golf Digest Ranking (Private Club – not ranked by The GOLF Course Guide) 19
Designer Robert Trent Jones Jr
Holes 18
Length 6552
Golf Digest Ranking (Private Club – not ranked by The GOLF Course Guide) 15
Designer Tom Doak
Back to Mornington Peninsula

Course Review

Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

The National Golf Club is Australia's largest private golf facility with three golf courses set on a stunning coastal stretch of dune land on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula's at Cape Schanck.
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The Moonah Course
Designed by Greg Norman, Bob Harrison
The Old Course
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
The Ocean Course
Designed by Thomson/Wolveridge/Perrett


Moonah course
Moonah course
Ocean course
Ocean course



Exclusive Review by Darius Oliver, from Australia's Finest Golf Courses

right - Moonah Course

Course Opened – 2000
Designer – Greg Norman, Bob Harrison

If God did not want man to play golf he wouldn’t have left us land like this.

Situated on the spectacular seaside farmlands of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula the National Golf Club’s Moonah course is a modern treasure. Like a links but unlike anything we’ve seen in this country the course was built on breathtaking coastal dune land and gets its name from the indigenous trees scattered throughout its rugged rolling hills.

Moonah Course The overwhelming beauty of this virgin land, with its stunning rural and ocean panoramas imposed a responsibility on designers Greg Norman and Bob Harrison to produce something truly exceptional. As Harrison explains ‘there were natural golf holes everywhere and our task was to select the best ones and link them together to form an inspiring and memorable course.’ The irregular shape of the site however meant routing the course was never going to be easy with the land taking them to the furthest point from the clubhouse and forcing holes to be laid out in a single loop away from the base.

The team spent hundreds of hours on site developing alternate layouts and considering various combinations to squeeze as many great holes as possible into the routing. To their credit they also ensured the course doesn’t suffer from overkill with the dramatic moments carefully spread and interspersed with a number of more subtle yet equally enjoyable holes.

Pivotal to Moonah’s success as a quasi-links was the shaping of fairways, greens and bunkers to not only suit the land but also the fierce Peninsula elements. The choice of grass was vital with fairways covered in a common couch known as CT2 that allows the bounce of a links but slows the running ball to soften the effect of the rolling contours. The Cape Schanck winds are a constant factor blowing hard and from opposite directions in summer and winter. As a consequence most of the greens were built with open fronts to accommodate running approach shots. Rather than create Trent Jones style contouring the designers chose instead to let their greens follow the flow of the land and included upslopes on many to allow skilled golfers to work the ball back toward more inaccessible pin positions.

The bunkering is outstanding and, aside from some incredible ‘signature’ holes, is Moonah’s most distinguishable feature. Kept smaller than normal the hazards were first excavated quite roughly, with the wind then left to blow the sand around before the edges, and parts of the faces, were seeded with fescues to provide a jagged appearance. This method of construction helped the ungroomed traps blend uniquely into the landscape, striking the perfect balance between looking wild and natural and providing fair and reasonable playing areas.

Also distinctive is the fairway shaping with a series of exhilarating driving holes built among or across the steep ridges. Most fairways have generous width but reward the successful gamble with a shorter and easier approach. The first hole, with its expansive landing area, sets the tone beautifully. Chances are you won’t miss the fairway with your opening tee shot, but play too far down the left side and your best chance of par is from one of the greenside traps.

The drive on 3 is an early highlight with a severe fracture cutting across a wide fairway to kick accurate balls toward the target and push weak drives away to leave a difficult approach. The tee shot on the 4th is yet another beauty, this time from atop a large dune out over sweeping undulations. Both greens are also exceptional, the bunkerless 3rd set down in a bowl and the 4th deliciously raised and set naturally within the shape of surrounding mounds.

Other standout holes include fabulous par four’s at 10 and 18, a great set of par three’s and the highly original 6th with its ocean views and ferocious fairway movement. The par five’s are also superb especially 2, 7 and 15, which rate among the best few ‘modern’ long holes in Australia.

Moonah CourseThe most interesting hole however is the 11th for a number of reasons, not the least being that the designers were so keen to include this wild countryside that they had to trade off routing difficulties to get to it. Tucked away in the northwest corner of the property the hole sits beautifully across the undulations with the tee shot, from a ridge to an elevated valley surrounded by sand, one of the genuine highlights of the entire National complex. Equally thrilling is the approach over a hollow toward a punchbowl green framed by the distant Bass Strait dunes. Surrounded by the sounds of a roaring ocean this is primitive golf at its best.

above - Moonah's spectacular 11th

To balance the use of this extraordinary land, the closing stretch is made up of a series of long holes that head back to the clubhouse and usually into the teeth of the stiff southwesterly winds. The key to scoring well at Moonah therefore is to get through the first eleven holes without too many scars as the battle to hold onto your score coming home is one of the toughest, and most exciting, in the country.

There are not many courses in Australia, of any era, as spectacular as Moonah and although it appeals to the masses, for low markers who like their golf raw this is a special treat. It consequently comes as no surprise to discover this is a course Greg Norman himself is particularly fond of. Prior to construction he described what Mother Nature had left him as ‘something that designers drool for’, adding that the chance to work with land of such quality was very rare. With the help of a strong design team he did not waste the opportunity, creating a contemporary classic and adding to the lasting legacy he had already left the Australian golfscape.

Old Course
above - World famous Old Course

Course Opened – 1987
Designer – Robert Trent Jones Jr.

‘The National will make me famous - either as the designer who has created one of the worlds great golf courses or a designer who stuffed up some of the best golf course real estate imaginable.' Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Australia’s largest private golf facility, The National Golf Club, began as a pipe dream in the early 1980’s when Melbourne entrepreneur David Inglis decided to build an exclusive golf club in the rugged Cape Schanck hills overlooking Bass Strait. Golf had been played on the remote locale for more than a decade and the Inglis plan was to redesign the financially stricken Cape Country Club course for members and add a further 18 holes for public players.

Wanting an overseas designer to build the new courses, The National initially had a commitment from Pete Dye which fell threw when Dye refused to travel to Australia to see the site first hand. Other designers were considered but American Robert Trent Jones Jr. eventually selected, mostly on the back of his great work at Joondalup in Western Australia.

Upon first inspection of the site Trent Jones was blown away by its potential and enthused that ‘any golf course architect would kill for a piece of land like this. It is one of the most unique areas of links country left anywhere in the world’. His master plan for The National required the total demolition of the existing course and the introduction of a prestigious residential estate within the clubs boundaries, with the land sales helping to fund the project.

Built on a hillside 80 metres above sea level, the course was dramatically crafted through the rugged coastal tea-tree and offers stunning ocean views on sixteen of the holes. These stirring views together with the constant battle against the harsh Cape Schanck elements define the experience with The National ‘a lion in the wind or a lamb on a clear sunny day ‘ according to Trent Jones.

Old CourseCritics of the course tend to find the sharp bunkering, tiered landing areas and thick scrub surrounding the fairways a little too penal, especially in all too frequent high winds. Members though enjoy a wry smile when their beloved course is criticised as most that leave apparently unsatisfied with the severity of the challenge, invariably supplicate members for a return game. It’s my guess that detractors have only played the course as a lion and never enjoyed it as a lamb during the magically calm, clear Peninsula days when the birdie chances are flowing.

To fully appreciate the genius of the Trent Jones design and understand its idiosyncrasies, the course has to be played several times and in a range of weather conditions. The slippery greens are probably Australia’s most extreme and can take years to master with the sharp ridges, steep tiers and frightening speeds making putting adventures both exhilarating and soul destroying at the same time. To quote putting prose - Before you putt from the roof of a Volkswagen and try to stop the ball on its bonnet, you should practice on the greens at The National!

The spectacular par three 7th is the absolute highlight of the course and perhaps the entire Peninsula. From the tee the view extends past the outcrop green site to the crashing waves of Bass Strait, along the Peninsula and even out to Melbourne’s Port Philip Bay and city skyline on clear mornings. Played with anything from a wedge to a two iron, the tee shot must carry a wild jagged ravine and land softly on a wonderfully built green almost 80 metres wide but only a few metres deep. Anything short, long or wide here is dead but everything else is fine! If you have never played the hole it is worth travelling from wherever you read this review just to experience this breathtaking work of art.

When the club expanded to 54 holes a new centralised clubhouse, built to accommodate golfers from each course, forced the reconfiguration of Old Course holes and considerably altered its character. The terrifying 14th, 15th and 16th became the opening holes and though built to test players coming home they can now destroy the scorecard before the golfer has even warmed up.

The exhilarating outlooks from virtually every corner of this course are a powerful reminder of golf’s ability to stimulate the senses and although now referred to as the ‘Old’ course, ‘Original’ would have been an equally appropriate caption, so unique is the experience. While the visionaries did a wonderful job building a thriving club so far from a major city, it remains Trent Jones who put The National on the map with a brilliant golf course, unlike any other in the world.

Green Fee access - Access to this private club is restricted to members, guests of members and Golf Club Members from Interstate and Overseas upon payment of the applicable green fee. ausgolf can advise about playing at The National, or for travel advice please e-mail