Westgate Golf Club
Having driven over it so many times as tens of thousands of folk do every day, it had always beckoned to one day be personally experienced. Like a handful of other 9 hole courses on patches of recreational and just outside of the concrete jungle of the city and on the fringe of its guts. I thought it may have some appeal and could be rather simple but found that is damn good course in its humble nature and really representational of Melbourne’s inner 24 hour industrial smoking west. Maybe the bridge was named after the golf course. Don’t even know what came first.The course poses some testing challenges which require effective shots. Dud shots will be swallowed up and go to a few potential graveyards of lost balls or maybe recycled by torchlight or early morning prospectors looking to make a quid.
Fairways are largely couch and on the morning I played mowed to a perfect height with light rough being the same. Balls sit up for good striking, anything hit fat will go off line. Greens are bent and of quite reasonable pace with mild borrows tricky to pick.
First impression upon arriving by foot having towed my buggy around the walls of imposing factories and warehouses was the tiny pro-shop and entrance. The pro-shop has everything an ol skool Aussie bloke requires for a round including hot pies and a fridge of cold beer. To be consumed in the patio area outside between the 1st tee and 9th green where local members may be found reviewing your talents sipping on another coldie and puffin on some fags. Just like halcyon days of the non-PC past.
The 1st is a short par 3 of just over 100 metres heading north to the bridge. A raised green with a green-side bunker guarding. Easy to go long and over the back and have a difficult chip. What follows is the walk of pilgrimage along the path with the hum of mega-traffic and under the bridge to the mystery of the north side of proceedings.
2nd hole is a 320 metre par 4 where one can be introduced courtesy of an overly long drive to Stony Creek, the last tributary into the Yarra. A ball went in there. The creek is blind from the tee as the fairway descends and weaves a 30 metre width ravine across the course. A fairway wood a better idea to set up a shot to the green 90 metres to the north of the creek across a bridge and slight ascent.
3rd hole returns parallel and south. 299 metre par 4. Greenside bunker and slope to the right and plays slightly uphill to the green.
The 4th is played as a par 4 of 392 metres. I believe members can play it as the 465 metre par 5 on Saturdays. Being somewhat oblivious, daring and apparently in contravention I took the long walk and managed to clear a drive over 150 metres of massive open stormwater drain threaded between the freeway overpass above and to the right and the drain and rear of industrial buildings with graffiti to the left and over small gums to the fairway. Good shot thankfully and a trippy driving experience. One gets to see the toxic ass end of a city’s world and take in unforgettable panorama and is reminded that golf can and ought to be played everywhere. Either way the hole is tough and requires a long second shot once more north over Stony Creek and the ascent to the green. Par an achievement.
5th is Melbourne’s cult par 3 by all accounts. From the tree you can see the left edge of the green under tree branches. People lay up or go over the top. Clueless to actual pin and hole position I elected to hit a high soft 5-wood fade requiring a carry over two large gums and somebody’s backyard to within 6 metres of the blind flagstick tot eh rear fringe. It’s worth the gamble I figure. Why play safe paly a poor chip and bogey.
6th is a short par 4 at 232 metres slightly uphill and sloping towards the right. Lay-up and pitch is best to a double-hole shared green (with the 4th) like the Old Course at St. Andrews. The hole gets high marks for design.
7th is a 126 metre par 3 with left bunker guarding front. The bunkers at Westgate are that, bunkers with flagsticks or small part thereof, visible.
One gets up and close and personal to rail transport at the 8th. With metro, v-line trains and diesel good trains running past every few minutes along the left side for the length of the 8th and 9th holes. The 8th is a solid par 4 requiring a drive southwards over the creek, 324 metre par 4. One then has the return walk under the bridge with opportunity to impress at the par 3, 9th at 122 metres.
All up Westgate is a solid course and no gimme and with the smell of benzene, petrochemicals and fried Vietnamese food, the sights and sounds, a sensory journey of industrial proportions. After the 9 I enjoyed the company of local members who had been in the group following having a couple of cold ones sitting in the shade of awnings and comfortable outdoor furniture. I was almost converted and envying the local home renovating yuppies with this gem on their doorstep, a unique and great golfing day out.
- Bad Monk