Roberts, M., and Harvey, M., Melbourne’s Public Golf Courses. The complete guide. Port Melbourne : Leisure Press, 1984 xiv, 128 p. : ill. ; 21 cm. ISBN 0949598038
Golfers at Oakleigh Municipal Golf Course have probably been more than a little confused by all the changes going on around them over the past year or so. Those changes have seen the first go from a par 4 to two par 3s and back again., the original fourth become two par 3s and the fifth and sixth ‘merging’ to make one hole. But by the time this book appears it is hoped that course redevelopment will have settled down a bit – at least to the point where golfers who play the course one week can recognise it should they venture back a few months later. But one aspect of that settling down that won’t please all Oakleigh golfers is that the first as a par 4 now looks here to stay. In this format it is one of the toughest opening holes to be found on any of Melbourne’s public courses.
It is 339 m long with a testingly narrow fairway flanked by dense scrub on the left and a creek all too close on the right. The rough on each side chokes the fairway into a bottleneck about 50 m from the green, making the second short (or, possibly, the third, fourth or fifth) a very tight one. Since early 1984, players have been treated to two fairly easy par 3s to start their rounds while redevelopment proceeded. But course officials expect it will have reverted to its original format by late 1984.
Anyone playing the revamped layout at that time is also likely to find more trouble on the new sixth. This hole is a combination of two original ones, playing from the old fifth tee to the sixth green. It has changed two average par 3s into a mighty tough par 4 – a narrow 282 fairway with trees on the right and thick undergrowth, more trees and a creek on the left. But if the sixth has been made tougher, there has been compensation for the golfer in some of the other changes. The eighth, for example, has long been regarded by many as a real test of judgement and skill. But the terrors of this hole have been largely negated by shifting the tee forward and to the left, thereby avoiding the huge willow tree that formerly stood directly between tee and green. Action has also been taken to quieten another of the course’s ‘terror’ patches – one that inspired terror in nearby residents. The second, third and fourth holes have become notorious as ‘the petition’ holes. All three have fairways which run close to houses adjoining the course in Oak Park Drive. Ever since the course opened in July 1978, these houses have been under constant siege from wayward golf balls. The situation got so bad that several residents sent the local council a petition complaining about the broken windows, dented cars, unconscious children etc. One bemused resident even found a 6-iron nesting in his spouting!
Now, with the setting of two par 3 holes along the original 284 m fourth fairway, there are four par 3s in succession along that side of the course. The course has responded to the resident’s complains by trying to locate some greens further away from the houses, but it would probably still be advisable for children playing the backyards of these homes to wear hard-hats. While it is hardly a great track, Oakleigh has a number of features sure to appeal to many weekenders. It is short, there are no bunkers and the course is rarely crowded, so a quick round is often available. But it is not without its problems. Its facilities are not all that well developed. The pro shop only carries a limited range of clubs, bags, balls etc. Soft drinks and some food are available (no hot stuff) but there is no licensed social club or clubhouse at present. Much of the course itself could also be kept in better condition at different times, but overall it is pleasant enough and provides a speedy round with the chance to card a good score.
It also provides one of public course golf’s most unusual – and potentially rewarding – finishing holes. The ninth here is a 183 m part 3 in winter but, for reasons that will soon become clear, condenses to 108 m in summer. The hole runs alongside Oakleigh swimming pool, which often seems to exert a fatal attraction over the ball. But this may not necessarily be a bad thing, particularly during summer. When it is warm there are always many lovely young ladies sunning themselves on the lawn beside the pool. So if you hook the ball into the pool area and have to go looking for it…well, that’s the price you have to pay (if you cannot hook the ball with sufficient accuracy, just throw it over the fence!!!). During summer the tee is moved closer to the green, to a position from which unintended entry to the pool is less likely. Less likely, certainly, but far from impossible – if you try hard enough!