The 2023 Sandbelt Invitational will reach its conclusion at one of the world’s great golf clubs when the mixed gender field of professionals and amateurs arrive at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club and its East Course on December 14.
Hosting a day of play for the innovative Geoff Ogilvy hosted tournament since its inception in 2021, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club East Course will welcome the event, which offers unique playing and learning opportunities, for the first time.
Designed by Alex Russell, after working alongside Dr. Alister MacKenzie on the neighbouring West Course and with the assistance of Royal Melbourne’s long-time greenkeeper Mick Morcom, the East is far more than the six holes it lends to the famed Composite Course.
Ranked No.7 in the country by Golf Australia Magazine and eighth by Australian Golf Digest, the East played a star turn in the recently completed Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, with the thrilling play-off completed on its 18th hole. Tournament host Ogilvy on the ground to observe the action.
“Some might consider the East Course to be the ‘little brother’, but I absolutely love playing it every time I get the chance,” Ogilvy said of the layout where Tom Doak is the consulting architect.
“Russell’s design presents a slightly different strategic challenge to the West and it will be the perfect place to finish this year’s Sandbelt Invitational.”
Still offering width off the tee on a slightly reduced scale, the greens of the East are also smaller, while Russell’s bunkering is, as always, one of the stars of the show.
Traversing across three of the club’s “paddocks”, the East Course is without doubt at its best over the closing stages of a round with its recently renovated par-3 16th benefitting from course work completed during COVID, particularly on the bunkering after reviewing old course images.
Now featuring a stunning back bunker cut into the dune behind the putting surface, the 16th is followed by a par-5 offering scoring opportunities then the long par-4 finisher that is known the world over and has been the sight of many of Australian golf’s greatest moments.
“The East Course at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is incredible. When considering it shares a property with the West, it is easy to understand why it is one of the great clubs of the world, and probably means the East doesn’t get its deserved plaudits,” Tournament Director Mike Clayton said.
“The opening three and closing three holes are tremendous, while the short fours and par-3s are world class.”
Providing a fitting final day venue is The Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s speciality, and this year it will witness the crowning of an overall Sandbelt Invitational champion, as well as a men’s professional, women’s professional, men’s amateur and women’s amateur winner.
The victors not the only beneficiaries, with the entire field reaping the benefits of the Geoff Ogilvy Foundation’s vision to provide highly valuable learning opportunities to Sandbelt Invitational players through the field composition being a mix of experienced and younger elite players.
The Sandbelt Invitational made possible by the foundation and through the valued support of Visit Victoria.