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They Are So Hard My Feet Hurt

Tha classic Royal Melbourne bunker complex

No tour of golf courses in Australia would be complete without a visit to The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The RMGC is one of the nine courses in the Melbourne Sandbelt that includes some of the finest golf courses in Australia.

After visiting several seaside courses that have the “wow” factor, the Royal Melbourne required a more patient approach. The golf club was formed in the late 1800’s and the current courses occupy the same site since 1901. However it was in 1926 when the club engaged the services of Dr. Alistair Mackenzie to design what is now known as the West Course.

The horse drawn scoop used to build Royal Melbourne bunkers

Construction in the 1920’s was with horse drawn scoops and plows, proudly displayed at the club entrance. While Mackenzie is credited officially, it is M.A. (Mick) Morcom the head greenkeeper at the time that may well be the master craftsman of this landscape and its key design features the bunker complexes and green surrounds. It is one course that many have tried to imitate but impossible to replicate.

Plaque at RMGC recognizing Mackenzie and Morcom

Over the years the course has benefited from the careful hands of the late notable greenkeeper Claude Crockford and now by course superintendent Richard Forsyth. These men and others bring their own personality to course care. I especially liked Richards mowing of the putting surfaces right to the bunker edge.

Note lack of collar along bunker face. A Richard Forsyth element.

A true feast for the eyes, the greens are noted for being hard on the feet. In fact, during the 2011 Presidents Cup, the greens staff and official set up crew complained the greens were so hard “that their feet hurt.” Firm bentgrass putting greens and equally firm fescue approaches and surrounds are reminiscent of St. Andrews.

As I have written over the years, nothing beats a firm green. Walking this course I was awestruck by the meticulous management of the playable surface-a singular focus for perfection from tee to green. Yet beyond the reasonable playing area is true rough, Australian bush, heathland, etc. Yes my feet hurt but the rest of the course soothed my pain.

With Richard Forsyth, RMGC Course Superintendent


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