Yarra Yarra Golf Club

All the way back in 1969 Lee Trevino and Bruce Devlin fought out the Dunlop International at Yarra Yarra. At the time it was the richest tournament in the country and to a twelve-year-old in awe of anyone with their name on their bag it seemed to be an amazing golf course.

Over the years I played a lot of golf at Yarra Yarra and watched as the course changed. Mostly the changes didn’t equate to improvements and the golf course architecture nerds in the city despaired of the club ever getting back to its Alex Russell roots.

Tom Doak was called in a few years ago with the hope he could revitalise the course and the result is nothing short of a stunning success. The extraneous trees are gone. In the fashion of Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath, fairways are shared in the appropriate places and the committee-altered Russell greens were restored. The condition of the course is improved and whilst some see that as important it’s simply a bonus coming on top of the architectural improvements.

The overwhelming consensus of the Sandbelt Invitational players and spectators is Yarra Yarra is right back amongst the upper echelon of courses in the city. It’s far from long but there is nothing but pain for those missing in the bunkers cut on the same side of the green as the pin and this has always been the Russell-imposed defence of the golf course.

Brady Watt, the Perth man who moved to Melbourne half a dozen years ago held his lead after a four-under-par 66. The members used to the 72 par would consider it six under but the reality of the modern game is the 16 th and 18 th holes are barely long par fours. No matter the par, both are quality holes and finishing in even fours is no mean feat.

The final round at Peninsula-Kingswood’s South Course will be a test for the leader albeit his lead is five shots. The course is the longest of the four, the greens are not easy and by this stage of the tournament players are accustomed to greens where fixing pitch marks is about as common a driver, long iron par four.

John Lyras

John Lyras was around in a brilliant 64 to move into second place, a shot ahead of new pro, Jed Morgan and the very experienced Marcus Fraser.

Grace Kim leads the women at one under but the most striking round of the day was perhaps the 74 by 13-year-old Amelia Harris.

You never know with young kids and how they develop as players but is there any more fun that watching someone barely a teenager swinging the club beautifully, hitting the ball properly and playing with real joy?