Despite having a name that sounds like the most feared shot in golf, Cape Schanck on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula turned out to be more sweet-spot than socket, writes Danny Bowerin…
Shank. The whisper of it strikes fear into a golfer’s heart.
I didn’t like the sound of it. Cape Schanck.
Surely it wouldn’t end well.
Why would any sane golfer play a course with a name that sounds like s***k?
We should have given it a code name.
Something easy to remember, something like Mornington Peninsula Golf Course or MPGC?
It wouldn’t have worked.
Peninsula is Golfer’s Paradise
So packed full of fantastic golf courses is the peninsula where Cape Schanck sits – around an hour’s drive from the city of Melbourne in Victoria- that you’d quickly get lost and confused asking locals for directions, if you couldn’t bring yourself to say the “S” word.
On its doorstep you will find The National, The Dunes, Eagle Ridge and Moonah Links to name just a handful.
It’s golfing country alright and it’s magnificent.
Royally good drive
The Cape Schanck Resort is run by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV). Its golf course is consistently appears in Australia’s Top 100 and was opened by Greg Norman in 1986.
You quickly forget its chilling name when you encounter some of the most spectacular views you can imagine on a golf course – over Bass Strait andPort Phillip Bay.
Course design aficionados will know the name Robert Trent Jones Junior, and the great man remains proud of this intricate layout to this day.
He has other masterpieces in Australia- next door at The National and Coolum in Queensland are probably the two best known.
Unbeatable value golf
Cape Schanck also just happens to be one of the best value places in Australia to play golf.
RACV members, of which there are around two million, can play at Cape Schanck for just $42 at weekends. The general public pays $54 and, whichever way you look at it, it’s a bargain.
The greens are undulating, smooth and in immaculate condition. Not to mention huge.
The bunkers are cavernous and the fairways are beautifully tree lined.
The course itself isn’t long, but it’s a test.
I loved that it made me think carefully on almost every shot. It’s Par 70 but it’s unmistakably a championship golf course.
Looks easy plays tough
Peter Tate, the welcoming Head Professional at Cape Schanck, said: “People expect the best players to tear it apart, but they rarely do.”
At a recent professional event, the best score was just three under par.
Driver isn’t the right club off every tee on the Par 4s and Par 5s, and don’t be too pleased with yourself for hitting good tee shots on the Par 3s until you see the putts you can be left with.
I loved playing back-to-back Par 3s early on in the round (third and fourth), and the other highlight of the front nine was the sixth.
A gentle dogleg to the left which, after a good drive, left me only 77 yards to the hole.
I could easily hit the same drive tomorrow and have 140 yards to the pin.
At nearly 80 yards long, this slim green has three tiers and is truly unique. You have to see it to believe it.
Room for great view
Those views I mentioned start on the ninth tee and really scale the heights on thirteen and fourteen.
I hope you get a day like we did because it’s one of those places where you feel as if you are on top of the world looking down on the beauty of creation.
The 14th hole, a Par 3 played from an elevated tee, is spectacularly beautiful, whilst the fifteenth tee shot is among the tightest I have ever seen.
If you’re a low handicapper, you must play 14, 15, 16 and 17 off the back tees if you can, and see if you can knock it around the corner onto the green on the Par 4 18th.
Golf base camp for Mornington Peninsula
Cape Schanck has beautiful ocean views and spectacular coastal setting.
The resort is a great location from which to explore the 20+ courses on the peninsula.
High quality accommodation is situated on the edges of the golf course and there is a choice of rooms, suites and villas that offer stylish contemporary décor, private balconies and all modern conveniences.
It’s an ideal place to enjoy a post round glass of Pinot Noir from one of the many local wineries which are world renowned for Pinot production.
The iconic lighthouse at Cape Schanck sits proudly on the rocky headland overlooking the Western Port Bay and guides ships through one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of water into the safety of the harbour.
Off course you’ll find miles of rolling countryside to explore that is home to historic villages, wineries and passionate local food producers.
The Stay and Play Package at Cape Schanck offers two consecutive nights (Mon-Thurs) in a room with an ocean view, full buffet breakfast and a round of golf for two people on one day, including golf buggy, for $455 (AUS).
Peter informed us that they are building a new resort at Cape Schanck, with work expected to start in the next couple of years.
Whilst the Mornington Peninsula is full of golf courses, RACV clearly intends to be the premier resort.
With professionals on tour now regularly playing courses of 7,300 yards and more, Cape Schanck represents a refreshing change and feels like golf as it should be.
It presents opportunity.
Cape Schanck rewards accuracy, good course management and an imaginative short game. In my case, it’s a case of “two out of three ain’t bad.”
As shanks go, this is one you’ll want to hit.
Web: Cape Schanck Golf
A good resource for booking golf breaks on the MorningtonPeninsula is the Golf Mornington Peninsula website
If you liked this, you may like to read Paul Walker’s reader review of The Dunes links course on the Mornington Peninsula.