Sandbelt Golf Personified
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Architects: Dick Wilson
Green Fee: $400AUD
Kiwi Caddy Tier: Two
The Holes that Stick:
1st- Par 4/425m
13th- Par 3/143m
16th- Par 4/340m
Metropolitan, a top-tier member of the famed Sandbelt region of Melbourne, is globally renowned for two things- some of the world’s purest conditioning and its one of a kind greenside bunkering. After an evening round at Metro, I have very little to add which hasn’t been spoken on regarding these two mind-blowing departments of the golf course- they make Metro one of Australian golf’s can’t miss experiences.
Without knowing it, when I thought about Sandbelt golf in general, Metropolitan was the picture in my head:
Generous width, ample short grass, exposed sand and scrub riding the edges of fairways, greens smothered by clusters of bunkers and very few trees crowding playing corridors. The course plays exceptionally firm and fast, and the aforementioned conditioning means bad lies are virtually non-existent.
Metropolitan is grand in scale and with trees provide wonderful framing to each hole, it’s a distinctly handsome golf course. The layout is routed across relatively flat terrain, with the first 6 holes boasting the most movement- not surprisingly this was my favourite stretch of holes on the course.
Although generally flat, the course makes use of some perched greens and excellent run-offs which when coupled with tight, fast grass really tests out the short game. The green complexes are large and probably the fastest surfaces I experienced in Australia, their subtle slopes make putting into the bunkers a real possibility and being above the hole is never an option!
At the forefront of the golf course’s defense is the mind-blowing bunkering. Quite literally eating into greens with no collar in sight, the bunkers are cut razor sharp with steep faces.
Like much of the Sandbelt, bunkering defines the strategy of most holes, with the preferred angle always between the bunkers rather than attempting to fly them and stop it on the firm greens. Dramatic approach shots are created by the bunkering, as they pinch in parts of greens, squeezing landing areas- even with a wedge in hand there’s a defensive instinct at play!
Like any excellent golf course, Metro features a few standout holes. The 13th hole is one of my favourite one-shotters on the sandbelt, with a raised green surrounded by steep bunkers putting accuracy at a premium! The short par four 16th doglegs sharply to the right, protected by a sea of 10 bunkers up the right hand side- like the sixth at Royal Melbourne West, the temptation to bite off a bit more than you can chew is ever present.
The lasting qualities of Metro lie in its width of the tee, fantastically unique bunkering and some of the most subtely captivating green complexes around- their shape almost always defined by the encroachment of the greenside bunkers.
The course offers solid hole after solid hole and although lacking the dramatic terrain of Royal Melbourne and perhaps some of the strategic qualities of Kingston Heath, Metropolitan is a sensational Sandbelt experience and a world class layout, perhaps existing in an unfortunate neighbourhood for comparison.
As an experience and a test of golf, I loved Metro and truly think overlooking it on a trip to Melbourne would be a huge miss. With bunkering you won’t find anywhere else and world class conditioning, it makes for a great day on the Sandbelt.
Booking a Tee Time
Like most of the Sandbelt, playing Metropolitan is a heck of a lot easier if you don't live in the State of Victoria. Visitor tee times for International and interstate visitors are available Mondays, Wednesday mornings, Thursday mornings & Fridays- enquiries can be made HERE. I would advise enquiring as early as possible as tee times are few and in high-demand!
Where to Stay
The great thing about the Sandbelt is its proximity to Melbourne's CBD, which can be reached in around half an hour. If you want to experience the city of Melbourne as well as the golf, this is 100% your best option! If you are in town strictly for golf, then staying in the suburb of Cheltenham is a fantastic option as the heart of the Sandbelt. There are a few hotels and a number of Air Bnbs available.
A note should also be mad of the train network, which can get you from Cheltenham direct to the CBD in around 35 minutes.
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
Melbourne is an absolute hotbed for world-class golf, with the Sandbelt at the forefront. Within 45 minutes of Metropolitan you can get to:
- Royal Melbourne East
- Royal Melbourne West
- Kingston Heath
- Peninsula Kingswood North
- Peninsula Kingswood South
- Yarra Yarra