Melbourne Sandbelt
Southern Golf Club
18 Holes
PAR 73
6037 M
The 5th hole is a highlight at Southern Golf Club - one of the lesser known layouts on Melbourne's famous sandbelt.
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19 Reviews
Have played this course a number of times now and always really enjoy the challenge. It is a long course (for a Par72) compared to others nearby and the two distinct 9's provide a true test of golf. The front 9 is an open design with wide fairways, plenty of bunkers and water to navigate. The wind is always a challenge. Standout hole on the front 9 would have to be the short par4 5th. An accurate tee shot can make this hole a birdie chance. Any error left or right means you find sand or water. As others have said, the back 9 is this courses distinction. Large and deep bunkers around every green, tree lined fairways and undulating fairways make for a completely different challenge to the front 9. The standout holes are the back to back monster par4s in 13 & 14, and the par5 17th with the tree in the middle of the fairway. The 18th was once a tricky closing dogleg until the tree on the corner died. The course has recently added water on both sides of the fairway on this hole in order to protect the integrity of the closing hole. The much hated par3 12th is not as bad as most make it sound. My only gripe with this hole is that the tee box is often covered over as I think they have trouble keeping it grassed. They therefore use a temporary tee which makes the hole much shorter. All in all an absolutely fantastic course that requires golfers to have every shot in the book. The two distinct 9's make sure of this.
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So many reviews have summed up the experience well. The course is highlighted by the 14th and 17th holes in my opinion - tree lined beauties. It is however noticeably let down by the very average 1st which would be improved dramatically with some bunkering and the Mickey Mouse 12th - a disastrous 3 tiered monster that makes you shake your head. Great clubhouse, good condition, well worth playing.
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Two distinctly different nines here, as others have said. The front nine uses contouring and bunkering as its defence, while the back packs its bite with tight tree-lined fairways that demand accuracy. The back nine is vastly superior. The 14th, the No.1 stroke hole, is an absolute beauty that would stand up on any track around the country. Into the wind it is a beast, a 400+m tight par four that moves down then uphill again to a well-bunkered green that slopes significantly from back to front. 13th is also a great par-four with an elevated green, 15th is a quirky dogleg par-four, 17th is a magnificent risk-reward par-five with a tight access to the green while 18 is another dogleg par-four with a hell of a lot of merit. The 11th is also a great hole, an uphill par-five which is reachable but only a laser-straight approach will find a green surrounded by traps. The 12th deserves the widely varying feedback it has received below. Didn't see the hole before its makeover but the green is certainly an interesting one. Impossible to draw the ball in with trees encroaching from the right. Three-tiered green is a bit Mickey Mouse, but given my badly thinned 9-iron ran up the back by the third tier, then released to around 2 feet from the flag I'm probably best to give this hole a tick for karma's sake. The front nine isn't the best, and is probably best served as an outward nine to leave the back 9 as the reminder to what the course offers. The first is wide open, and looks like an easy hole (at least downwind) until you get to the green. I can't imagine this hole is playable at all during summer when the greens are running quick. A turtle-shell green which was almost impossible to hit mid-winter when I played, let alone in summer when it will be rock hard and running quick. A short iron would probably suck back off and a long iron (inevitably into the wind) at long odds as well. As for the rest of the front nine, the 5th is a standout as a hole where every shot needs to be thought out. Leave driver, and perhaps even 3 wood in the bag to hit the fairway, with water on both sides and bunkering as well. The second shot is hard to judge, again water on the right if the approach leaks. Four is a good score here. The fourth is a decent par-five with a wide driving area but a tight approach, the eighth is a decent risk-reward short par four with water on the right and nine is a nice lil dogleg. Definitely the weaker of the two nines. Greens were great, staff very welcoming and speed of play was very acceptable on a Sunday. The front nine lets this course down but the back nine is the beauty and it is an affordable alternative to the other Sandbelt options.
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Pretty much everything I was about to say is covered in the reviews below. To begin with there is a nice modern clubhouse with friendly staff. This leads to a very well-equipped practice area with nets, putting green/short game and full grassed range. As for the course, there is still is a distinctive flavour to each 9 although it's not necessarily a bad thing. Fairways are in great condition and greens "looked" good although they were just cored and sanded so I didn't get a chance to putt on them properly. My biggest complaint - the bunkers. I'm not complaining about the number of them (although there are quite a few), it's the wildly varying quality. Some were soft and puffy but the majority were hardpan and difficult to get under the ball. It makes for a very frustrating time whenever you go into one - which was quite often. Overall Southern is a great little course that the members should be proud of.
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Have played southern a few times over the past few weeks. Firstly, I enjoyed the practice facilities at the course, grass tee range, practice chipping/ sand area and large warm up nets. Staff at the pro shop were very accommodating and helpful. We entered the comp on the day, and were provided computerized scorecards on our arrival. The course layout is very interesting with the course playing two distinct 9s. I believe two architects were used. The front 9 consists of gentle, undulating fairways, reasonable greens and holes with challenging shapes. Most targets and landing areas are well protected by many bunkers. A memorable hole is a short par four with water left and right of the short grass combined with 5-10 bunkers along the left edge. A precise tee shot is needed if a golfer plans on beating par. Back 9 seems to open up a little, and the intense bunkering is left out. However the holes seem to be longer with more blind approach shots. Favorite hole on the back 9 is the short par 3 with bunkering protecting any short shots, then a triple tiered putting surface to challenge those who get GIR. Condition of the course was exceptional. Fairways were fast and springy, greens were true and quick. Only complaint may be a few bunkers were GUR and many seemed to lack adequate sand coverage. Thus course is definitely worth a visit.
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Firstly, let me explain the asterix in the thread title. There are many a learned scholar amongst us at ISG that will argue with great aplomb that Southern is not in essence a Sandbelt course. These people will also argue that unless you appear on, you are nothing but a second tier list clogger, much in the same vein as a Josh Fraser or Simon Wiggins. However, this website has the audaciousness of a Gold Coast property scam, and therefore, to ensure a fair hearing for Southern (and its neighbours such as Spring Valley, Woodlands, Long Island and Kingswood), this author is firm that Southern is indeed Sandbelt. Now, let's move on. Southern is a well established club with a membership base and course that over time has moved away from the classical pompousness associated with its neighbours. It has gone its own way in regards to course design, and has long been described as having a membership base akin to the Collingwood Cheer Squad. Although true to accuse the architecture of SGC as non traditional in parts, the membership base can no longer be labeled the town drunk. Natural attrition and strong management has seen that unfortunate part of its history become just that.history. In the olden days, SGC used to have 12 holes on the south side of Centre Dandenong Rd, with the remaining six now being used by Spring Park. To remove the road crossing, it enlisted 5 time British open winner Peter Thomson to build a new nine holes that was to complement the outstanding residual work of Berriman. Unfortunately, these new nine holes have become the source of much debate, and Bob Shearer's stamp as the resident architect for the last 20 years has arguably not been great. Having said, the course has now grown and the legacy of having two distinct nine's is becoming less and less of an issue over time The course starts with a par 4 that allows for the big hitter to wind up and the clever short game player to show off their wares on the newly reconstructed green, complete with false front. The feeling of space on either side of the fairway is evident through most of the front nice, with the tree line and tree height not as encroaching as on the established back nine. However, of note is the conditioning of tees, greens and fairways that would be unrivalled in Melbourne at present by all but a few premium establishments. This level of conditioning is something the club has worked at hard to achieve and brings back memories of its glory days as Melbourne's best presented course in the 80's and 90's. The round continues through to the 4th and 5th holes which probably provide the most conjecture for the architectural snobs. The 4th is a heavily bunkered par 5 with bunkers in the middle of the fairway off the tee and a small green heavily protected on both sides. The longer hitter has the choice to go for the green in 2, however the risk / reward proposition is usually not in the players favour The 5th is a short par 4 that is bunkered on both sides of the drive, with water also on both sides should the bunkers fail to catch your wayward ball. Members and newcomers to the course usually get a sense of awe when playing this holes due to the perceived difficulty and eye candy that they present. However, a vocal minority see these holes as over bunkered ensuring forced shots for the better golfer. In any event, they are unique on a sandbelt course and are fun to play. Putting out on the 9th takes you past the well stocked spike bar for a quick reasonably priced can of VB and an egg and lettuce sanga. The back nine has arguably some of the courses better holes with back to back 400m+ par 4's in 13 and 14 giving headaches to golfers of all levels. The round finished with the much underrated 18th with its dogleg left and well bunkered green. However, Bob Shearer's changes at 12 and to a lesser extent 16 deserve discussion. Those that played the course prior to the changes at 12 would argue it was possibly the best hole on the course, and one of the better par 3's in the region. However, Shearer's changes have caused much conjecture within and outside the club. Southern now has its only 3 tier green with a bunker on the left hand side of the complex that has a shallow lip unlike anything else seen on the course. Again, eyecandy for visitors and a great result for some members. However, architecturally, the top tier is impossible to shoot at for most due to an encroaching tree line, and the slopes on the green too severe when compared to the rest of the course. 16 has also been rebuilt by Shearer and is a much more pleasing result. Southern is the black sheep as it has gone alone in its decision making and ignored the traditional hand cuffs of the region. Firstly, it has made changes to its course that are not truly in alignment with sandbelt architecture. One can argue that this is a good thing as it does produce a playing test that differs slightly from its neighbours, but one that is not so out of tune that it is unrecognizable as a sandbelt track. Secondly, it was the first club in the region of a tier 2 nature that made the tough decision to rebuild its clubhouse some 7 years ago. The result is something that is generating revenue for the club through functions to ensure a healthy financial position and also a massive improvement on its predecessor. I raise this point as it has now gone through the hard yards and can continue to pay of its debt through normal trading. Others, like Woodlands, are imposing an ongoing levy to members to pay off their $8m new build, while others again are caught with dilapidated assets and are vulnerable when making the next step (eg Keysborough and Kingswood). Southern has many benefits for prospective members. It is financially secure, has new major assets that are not placing a burden on the cash flow, its course is now back to a level of presentation not seen for many a year and its membership base is near capacity across all categories. Most importantly for this author, it offers a course that is slightly different. One could join, say, Victoria and feel a sense of sameliness when visiting your cousins in the region like Kingston Heath or Commonwealth. However, when one comes to Southern, the feeling when coming of the course is knowing that although a sandbelt track, it presented other things as well. Where does it rate? In regards to architectural merit of the course, it is ahead of Keysborough, Kingswood, Cranbourne and Long Island. In this regard, it is bettered by Spring Valley and Woodlands. It overtakes Woodlands when the value for money argument is put forward based on joining fees, subs and levies. Overall, it sits comfortably in the region of 70 110 in the Golf Digest ratings without raising any eyebrows. This makes it a damn fine track and a damn good club
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Contact us

Golf Course Details
Lower Dandenong Road, Keysborough
Melbourne Sandbelt, VIC 3173, Australia
Proshop: (03) 9798 3111
General: (03) 9798 3111