First impressions of Curlewis Golf Club have visitors believing they are strolling around a Scottish Links, with the obvious exception being its proximity to Melbourne and adjacency to Geelong on the road to Portarlington.
Blessed with a brilliant sand base and a sparsity of trees, this is a somewhat unknown links that continues to grow in reputation with its subtly rolling couch fairways. Easily one of the premier courses on the delightful Bellarine Peninsula, it first opened in 1970. Vern Morcom was the original designer, however in 1976 a master plan was undertaken by Kevin Hartley that tweaked the original layout in a positive fashion.
Fast forward to 2001 and Mike Clayton is engaged for the first time by the Club to develop and oversee a second master plan. This positive step continues Curlewis in an upward trajectory with substantial gains achieved. The often-breezy layout is complimented by fast solid greens and creative bunkering.
By 2015, the club had fallen on hard times financially and thankfully was purchased by local winery owners David and Lyndsay Sharp, whose injection of capital and wisdom resulted in a second engagement with Mike Clayton (his team now known as Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead). This collaboration resulted in a further enhanced and revised layout that measures 6,150 metres from the tips, is a par 71 and a comprehensive test to players of any ability. Thankfully, across the influence of different designers, the course has maintained a links-type character with a minimum of trees, undulating fairways, challenging bunkers and large contoured greens. To play Curlewis is to fall in love with a truly fabulous golf course.
In terms of feature holes, it is hard to ignore the challenge and beauty of the 174-metre 3rd hole. Often played into prevailing winds, it can require a piercing blow with as much as a No 3 wood. Clearly deserving of its No 2 index on the card, the green is complex in its slopes that project the slightly mishit shot a good 10 to 15 metres off the green if you collect the front right quadrant. Should you find the left-hand bunkers, the explosion to the green will need to be laced with backspin as the green is sliding away from you.
With the Clubhouse in sight, No 18 is a formidable test, usually it plays longer than the 354 metres due to prevailing wind and the tee shot must be confidently struck to avoid water on the left and penal bunkering to the right. The green is again protected to the left by water coupled with bunkering left and right. If you need par to secure a decent card it will be well earnt here!