This style of bunkering instigated by MacKenzie at both Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath became de rigueur on many of Melbourne’s famed Sandbelt courses.
There are some brilliant sequences of holes on the West Course and none perhaps better than the stretch from holes three to six. The 3rd is a very short par-4 with a green that falls front to back and preceded by a diagonal deep swale meaning a precise pitch is key for the second shot. It is followed by a dramatic blind tee shot of the par-5 4th and then one of the best and most famous one-shot holes in golf, the par-3 5th. The par-4 6th offers a risk/reward tee shot across a corner of heathland with waste bunkers to a green that can put fear into the mind of even the best golfers. But then there are more favourites, with the dramatic short par-4 10th with its deep and huge crater like bunker that comes into play if you take on the green from the tee, while the 17th green is a gem surrounded by the best settings on the course.
I was fortunate enough to meet a legend of Royal Melbourne and a true gentleman named Claude Crockford. An “uncommon genius” is how five-time Open champion Peter Thomson described the man who was the greenkeeper at the club for over 40 years. “Crocky” knew and cared for every square inch and during his stewardship would prepare arguably the finest and truest tournament greens in the world. He prepared the historic combination of six East and 12 West Course holes for the Canada Cup of 1959. This became famously known as the Composite Course – which itself is a truly magnificent layout.
The club is now preparing to host the Presidents Cup for a second time, meaning these remarkable holes will be on show to the world once again.
Harley Kruse was formerly a head designer with the Australian office of Greg Norman's design company. Lead architect on a number of highly-rated courses throughout Asia-Pacific, Kruse has since teamed up with industry veteran Bob Harrison, another highly talented ex-Norman designer, to launch Harrison + Kruse, a new golf course design firm based in Sydney.