Bonnie Doon Golf Club Mid-construction Update Stage 4

The fourth and final stage of our redesign at Bonnie Doon GC is almost complete with grassing of greens and fairways to take place over the next month. After 8 years we’ll finally have a complete and consistent 18 hole course and we look forward to continuing to work with the club to see it realise its enormous potential.


A little about the holes themselves……

1st Hole

The new long par 4 1st is played over some beautifully undulating ground to a terrific green site, just below the hill it shares with the 17th. Interestingly this was the previous 18th hole but played in reverse with the large valley now used to play over for the approach, originally a feature of the tee shot. A series of bunkers and sandy wastes dominate the left side of the hole and link the 1st to the 2nd but they shouldn’t trouble the thoughtful golfer as the large expanses of short grass to the right of the green and away from trouble will help feed a ball toward the target. The area around the clubhouse has changed significantly with a new large practice putting green and 1st tee taking up the ground just in front of the verandah….a nervous start awaits for those who don’t like a crowd!

2nd Hole

The 2nd plays as a short par 4 along a similar the same corridor as the old 10th hole.

We’ve added the option of using a forward tee to play this as a difficult long par 3, something currently missing from a course which features a number of short 4’s and 5’s.


17th Hole

The 17th plays across a lovely piece of ground shaped a little like a bottle….wide at the start of the fairway and narrowing at driving distance with a large dune on the left and bunkers on the right. The green site sits against the same large dune on the left and the canny golfer may choose to use this to their advantage by banking an approach shots off the slope, rather than flirting with the bunker on the right.

Short Game Facility

Finally a new short game facility sits in the first half of the old 9th and offers golfers another option for practise or a brief warm up prior to their round rather than having to make the journey down to the driving range.

Lan Hai Simulation

The 3rd Hole at Lanhai International (Links) was a long par 5 that played around the edge of the irrigation storage lake. Our plan moves the hole away from the lake and involves building some quite large dunes down the left of the hole so that the water doesn’t play a key role. Similar works will take place on the 6th hole and wetlands will be created at either end of the lake to give it a more natural appearance. Earthworks have just commenced and we should have something bulked in early in the New Year.

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Bang Pra Flyover Simulation

Bang Pra sits in beautiful surroundings amongst mountains and a wide variety of old trees and is one of Thailand’s oldest courses.  The greens and bunkers are a long way from competing with the worlds best but the routing is very good and the course is fortunate to have space from off the tee uncommon in this part of the world.  As a result it has enormous potential and should be amongst the best courses in Thailand.

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New 14th Hole at Cranbourne Golf Club

The Melbourne sandbelt is full of great short holes made on unremarkable, flat land. It was the sand and the beautiful low-growing heathland plants that allowed for the construction of some of the greatest short holes in the game. The new 14th at Cranbourne provides another such example and prior to clearing the site it was difficult to gauge exactly what the land would feel like. We suspected it would be a good site for a new hole but only once the noxious weeds and debris from its days as a tip site were removed, was the potential of the new hole revealed.

Like most of the great short par threes in Melbourne including the 9th at Commonwealth, the 10th at Kingston Heath and the 13th on Royal Melbourne’s West Course, the 14th demands a quality tee shot. At only 135m metres birdies are possible and perhaps even expected on occasion by the better player, but a miss here is an ever-present danger and will almost certainly result in a bogey or worse.

The advantage of the new hole is that it perfectly links the 13th green to the 15th tee, eliminating the long walk to the current 14th tee as well as providing a hole that runs south-north, which no other par 3 on the course currently does.

The new green and bunkering is sympathetic to Sam Berrimen’s original green complexes and the indigenous heathland which was such a part of the tee carry of the old hole has been translocated here to help create a more natural setting and give the impression the hole has always existed.

:: Mike Cocking

New 19th Hole at Victoria Golf Club

This short video provides an update on the new 19th hole and practice area at Victoria Golf Club, which is now well established having been built approximately 12 months ago.
:: Mike Cocking

Update on the North Course at Peninsula Kingswood

With nearly all holes on the South course now open for member play, our work at Peninsula Kingswood has moved on to the North course. This video update features drone footage from December 2016 of the North course’s back nine, providing a glimpse of the scale of transformation that is taking place. Our work on the North course will continue throughout 2017, with all 36 holes due to be open for play during 2018.

:: Mike Cocking

New 9th Hole at Ranfurlie

This video provides an update on recent work at Ranfurlie Golf Club in Melbourne, which involved a redesign to the 9th hole. The new hole is due to open for play in April 2017.

:: Ashley

Cranbourne GC :: 14th Hole

Our new 14th hole at Cranbourne Golf Club is progressing well after finishing construction and grassing in spring. The below drone video provides a unique perspective of the new hole and helps explain a little about where the hole sits and how it plays. We expect play will commence in late summer ready for the club championships.


:: Mike Cocking

Royal Canberra Course Redesign

2016 saw the completion of our redesign of the original 18 holes at Royal Canberra Golf Club, which culminated in the recent re-opening of the course. The two year project included the reconstruction of all tees, greens and bunkers, the installation of many kilometres of new drainage, and the widening & re-grassing of almost 20 hectares of fairway.

We look forward to 2018 when Australia’s top 100 courses are again rated by the leading two golf magazines in the country, and we hope Royal Canberra is returned to its rightful position amongst the country’s best courses.

The video below shows a time lapse of the course redesign, and demonstrates the extent of the course’s transformation from above.

:: Mike Cocking

New Nine at Royal Canberra Opens for Play

We’re please to announce that the new back nine on Royal Canberra’s original 18-hole course has opened for play this week to great acclaim from members, guests and the media. Celebrations for the opening included a ribbon cutting by the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and a demonstration match featuring Geoff Ogilvy. This milestone marks the completion of the original 18-hole course, with the front nine completed 12-months ago. The future redesign of holes 19-27 will then complete the project, and further contribute to Royal Canberra’s elevation back into the top echelon of clubs in the country.

The back nine takes in some of the best land on the property, with the stretch of holes from 13 through 17 being the most dramatic. This stretch includes the long par-4 14th hole (see below) that plays over the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, the design of which was loosely based on Commander Harris’ original design. Tree removal down the right of the old hole helped create a wide corridor – so wide that we felt it could handle a central bunker to help set up some of the strategy of the hole from the tee. The green features wings that serve to emphasise this strategy, with a left pin rewarding an approach from the right of the fairway close to the lake, while for a right pin the strategy flips, favouring an approach from the left.

Over the coming weeks we will post some hole-by-hole images and commentary, including before and after pictures in order to help explain how the holes have changed and the reasons for the changes.

:: Mike Cocking

Royal Canberra’s 14th Hole

The 14th at Royal Canberra has been transformed by using the true width of the piece of land it occupies, and the principles of the original concept design of Commander John Harris. Harris had drawn the hole from what is now the 13th tee and he envisaged a dramatic tee shot across the lake on the right. For whatever reason the hole was never built and whilst the 13th made a beautiful downhill par three, the 14th always failed to make any strategic use of the lake. This failure was a disappointment given that it was the primary natural feature of the land.

The new hole captures the essence of Harris’ original concept. Tees were added to the right, trees removed and the fairway widened out to the water on the right and consequently, many more options of line have been made available from the tee. The most desirable line will depend on which of the three tees is being used but most importantly, players now have a choice whereas previously all they were asked to do was to hit straight between the bunkers on the left and the trees on the right.

Bonnie Doon’s Redevelopment

In this episode of The Week in Golf, Course Superintendent Justin Bradbury and I speak about our early progress at Bonnie Doon on stage three of the course redevelopment.


Morning Drive

The team travelled to The Golf Channel’s studios in Florida recently to appear on Morning Drive. Here’s the video of our interview with Matt Ginella.

Victoria Golf Club

Victoria Golf Club, the home club of Peter Thomson, Doug Bachli and Geoff Ogilvy, is one of the very best of the sandbelt courses. The original Alister MacKenzie influenced course was changed over many years by the overplanting of trees, the growth of grass bordering fairways as rough and the reduction in size and character of the bunkers.


We have consulted to the club since 1995 and in that time the bunkers have been restored, the negative influence of the trees reduced and the rough has been replaced in many places by sand or short grass. Like so many of the sandbelt courses the greens determine the strategy from the tees because they are best approached from parts other than the middle of the fairways.


Our work at Victoria is aimed at restoring the original bunkers and shaping new bunkers to match the look and character of the originals. Some holes were lengthened for the 2002 Australian Open and 2010 Australian Masters but the emphasis has been on making the course more interesting, not more difficult.

Bonnie Doon :: Before and After Hole #9

With stage 2 of our redesign at Bonnie Doon having just started we take a look back at the work completed in Stage 1.  Here’s how the holes looked prior to the starting, why certain things were done the way they were and how the course has evolved over the last 2 years.  Enjoy.

The old 1st hole and 4th at Bonnie Doon were pretty much carbon copies.  Both played as long par fours, over similarly undulating ground, in the same direction, and alongside each other.  As part of our overall plan for the course the 18th hole would be removed (to help improve boundary problems) which meant we needed another hole to return to the clubhouse.  With the 1st the slightly better hole of the two, reversing the 4th became the obvious solution.  Adding a few metres got the hole to a par five which was a bonus, as it gave the course a three-shotter played in the opposite direction to the other three.

A big part of this stage was capping the ‘new’ land – what would become the 14th, 15th and practice facilities.  Previously a tip, the ground needed a good metre of sand to get anywhere close to replicating the conditions of the rest of the course.  There were some benefits in taking the sand from this hole and what would become the 10th (the old 1st).  Both had steep rises through their middle, which meant that most approach shots were blind.  And in reversing the 4th the problem became amplified, with anyone not able to carry the ball 240 metres left with a second up and over a 30ft rise and many left with a blind third as well.

So the ridges were lowered a little and a hollow created to divide the new 9th and 10th holes and to return some of the dramatic movement to the area.  Originally we thought the hollow may work as short grass  – a subtle hazard for offline shots on both holes – but the more we worked the area the more it suited to being bunkers.  The hollow also crept out further into play than originally planned (on both holes), introducing a hazard to carry rather than just something to be avoided on the edge of each hole.  We seeded this area without bothering to cut in bunker shapes and then only once the grass had established, looked at roughing in some lips. Given the amount of play this area would likely receive (being on the ‘slice’ side of both holes) and our preference to keep the roughs un-cut, we created a cluster of bunkers.  With sand being more playable and accepted by golfers than long rough this seemed the safest way to treat the area.

The little bunker on the right of the tee shot was added and removed at least three times.  We felt it needed something else off the tee to negotiate but it never quite looked right during the main part of the shaping process.   In the end we just built a little rise, did some handwork and grassed it.

The green site is essentially the old 4th tee.  It’s quite small and plays hard being elevated with steep drop offs on three of its four sides, but playing as a short five the hole copes with this difficulty.  As a long four it would no doubt be seen as being too hard.  The green surface is one of our favorites. Not wildly contoured but plenty of small internal movement, rarely leaving a flat putt if more than 6 feet from the hole.  The dune behind the green is artificial – created to screen the practice nets and golfers walking to the driving range from the fairway.

:: Mike Cocking

Q&A with Geoff, Mike, Mike and Ash

Here are a few highlights from the Q&A night at Bonnie Doon Golf Club from November 2011.

Bonnie Doon should open some of the new holes that we built in mid to late April 2012.