Royal Melbourne Golf Club

One of the finest golf courses outside Britain or America is the Royal Melbourne Club, which has continual membership dating from July 1891.

The official outfit for all members in those early days was a scarlet coat with gold buttons., knickerbockers, and Tam O'Shanter, thus confirming the Scottish connection.

The course moved to the Sandringham district of Melbourne in 1901 and a new course was laid out. Its deep bunkers turned it into one of the great championship courses in the world. While retaining some characteristics of Scottish links, it also has some of the beauty of the Augusta National course. But that is hardly surprising because the man hired by Bobby Jones to design Augusta, Alister Mackenzie, was also hired to design the new course at Melbourne in the 1920's. The second, East, course, was added in 1932 and the original course was called the West course. Such is the design of the two that holes from both can be incorporated into one 18 hole course for major championships.

The greens at Royal Melbourne are lifted every six years to ensure their trueness and, consequently, they are lightning fast. And for a true test of a golfers ability and nerve the 6th and 14th holes provide a daunting task. Both are doglegs; the first requires the decision to play short of, or attempt to negotiate some awkwardly placed bunkers. The latter is a 90-degree dogleg, but trees lining the right-hand side of the fairway make it difficult to assess the correct line.

Golf trivia: A golf club cannot adapt the word Royal in its title unless this right has been bestowed upon it by the sovereign or a member of the royal house. This is normally granted when a club receives Royal patronage.

The Perth Golfing society was, in 1833, the first club to be granted Royal designation. There are now over 40 Royal golf courses in the British Isles.

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