Tournament golf at Royal Melbourne is always somewhat of a grind. The wind is an almost ever-present foe – or if used cleverly – an assistance. Playing irons into greens guarded at the front by sand or shaved banks is often easier if the wind is into your face but as Geoff Ogilvy said after his round, “there are so many shots where one club seems too much and the other not quite enough.”

Brady Watt

Years ago, the LPGA star, Stacy Lewis summed up Royal Melbourne when she noted the course, “doesn’t reward good shots.” The twice major champion was right – it’s a course rewarding great shots and anything not quite right is shed far from the hole and from long distance it takes a great touch to roll the ball up close enough to avoid marking, waiting and sweating over a four-footer.


Brady Watt is the leader at halfway following a Kingston Heath 67 with an even par 70. “It was just a grind today – lots of playing away from the pins and putting from long distance. They are trying to protect par and understandably the four clubs are using a lot of their most difficult pins. I love this stuff with the pins hanging of the sides of the greens” said Watt.

One of the more interesting groups was Lucas Herbert, the host, Ogilvy and Belinda Ji. Ji delighted in playing with the older stars even though she was around in 79. “She was asking questions of us all day” said Ogilvy, “which is the idea of this week and hopefully she learned something.”

The Royal Melbourne Golf Club – 17th West Course

Those of us who have seen Royal Melbourne in all its moods over the years have a sense of how to play the course but for Ji it was her first time playing the West Course. Ogilvy was both encouraging and impressed by her play noting, “You won’t see too many days as difficult on the LPGA.”

We move just up the road to Yarra Yarra for Wednesday’s third round. Most of the field won’t have seen the Tom Doak revitalisation of Alex Russell’s brilliant 1930s course. Like the West Course, it’s not remotely close to being long by today’s standards but the greens will be as fast as the opening days and precise play will be the name of the game – as it always been on the sandbelt.