The Metropolitan Golf Club
Tucked away quietly in Melbourne’s south-east, just fifteen minutes from the CBD, The Metropolitan Golf Club is one of the renowned Sandbelt courses and for almost a century has been regarded as one of the finest championship courses in Australia.
About the Club
Metropolitan shared a common origin with Royal Melbourne in 1891 as the Melbourne Golf Club. The original course in Malvern was engulfed by housing so in 1908 some of the members purchased land in Oakleigh, relocated and began play as The Metropolitan Golf Club.
Designed by engineer J B MacKenzie, the sandy land was transformed by the establishment of magnificent plantations of Australian native trees and shrubs and has the most famous specimen of red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia) in Australia, which is well over 130 years old.
Over the years the course has moved with the demands of the times and staged its first Australian Open in 1930, after modifications suggested by the famous Scottish course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie in 1926. American golfing great, Walter Hagen, played Metropolitan in 1930 and described it as ‘by far the finest course I have played in Australia’.
Throughout its rich history Metropolitan has challenged the best players in the world. In total the Club has hosted seven Australian Opens, five Australian PGAs, the 2001 World Match Play Championship, and the 2009 Women’s Australian Open. In more recent times, the Club has hosted the 2014 Australian Masters, the 2016 Australian Amateur Championship (for the sixth time) and in November 2018, will host the World Cup of Golf for the first time.
Image credit: Gary Lisbon and Jacob Sjoman
Metropolitan enjoys a reputation as one of the best-conditioned and most beautiful courses in the country. Pure couch grass fairways with large, fast bent-grass greens that are hand-mown to the edges of the greenside bunkers add greatly to the challenge of the course.
In total there are 96 bunkers and almost every hole is flanked by huge stands of Australian native trees, providing sanctuary to many species of native birds.
In 2001 Metropolitan was selected to host the USPGA Tour World Match Play Championship, which was won by Steve Stricker. It was also chosen as the host of the 2014 Australian Masters.
The top players from all over the world were amazed by the quality of the course. Tom Lehman compared it to Augusta, and USPGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, remarked:
‘I don’t recall being at one of our events where every player in the field is ecstatic about the quality and condition of the golf course – hats are off to everybody at Metropolitan for getting this great golf course in the condition that it’s in. Metropolitan has enhanced its reputation as one of the world’s truly great golf courses.
Metropolitan is probably the most difficult of the Sandbelt courses and its strength is the sum of its parts. Few members can agree on the best hole. Some pick the medium length par 4 5th hole. The 2nd is a beautiful Sandbelt par 3 and a favourite of many.
Metropolitan is the flattest of the Sandbelt courses and so cannot rely on the natural contour of a great piece of land to make a stunning hole, however at almost every hole the complex greens dictates that the middle of the fairway is hardly ever the best line into the flag. That principle is what makes Metropolitan such an interesting essay in golf course strategy.
This principle is perfectly exemplified at the opening hole. Two fairway bunkers guard the ideal driving line down the left and a typically sprawling greenside bunker to the right makes the shot from the right so much more complicated than the shot from the left.