The National - Gunnamatta
A Study in Width, Angles, Options & Fun
Location: Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Architects: Greg Norman, Bob Harrison
Green Fee: $375AUD
Kiwi Caddy Tier: Two
The Holes that Stick:
2nd- Par 4/286m
8th- Par 4/321m
11th- Par 3/208m
Rising from the ashes of the much maligned Ocean Course at the National, Tom Doak’s Gunnamatta has brought with it a refreshing new style of golf to the facility, leaning more heavily into playability and enjoyment than the neighboring Old & Moonah courses.
The first word which comes to mind when I think about Gunnamatta is scale. Everything about the course is grand- fairways are WIDE, greens are HUGE and the slopes and mounds are some of the most dynamic I have seen. It’s absurdly good land for golf- a property which offered Tom Doak breathtaking natural shapes and landforms to bring to life.
Despite its scale and drama the course never feels overwhelming, rather smooth and gradual- certainly less severe than the two routings next door; Coldplay not AC/DC.
Tom Doak is renowned for his use of width and angles to define the strategy of a golf hole. Many mistake this for an easy golf course, however the Gunnamatta course is a perfect encapsulation of playability without compromising challenge- easy bogey, hard birdie. The design ensures every fairway has a better side to be on, with bunkers mounds and slopes all serving a purpose and short grass is everywhere, minimizing lost balls and encouraging heroic recovery shots- Doak’s essence of fun.
Gunnamatta felt like a course where every feature mattered and impacted the strategy of a hole. There wasn’t any wastage- minimalist design on a grand scale.
To my mind, the green complexes and their surrounds are the stars of the show, their ridges, spines, hollows and mounds testing every aspect of the short game, commanding creativity and presenting original questions. A prevalent feature of the green surrounds is the number of backstops, punchbowls and contours which funnel balls towards the flag given the opportunity- Doak was tasked with creating a fun course for the membership and watching balls riding a slope towards the flag is one of golf’s great joys! There are greens on the course where I could chip and putt around all day and still find new ways to access pin positions tomorrow.
The layout of the course provides a balance of short and long holes, birdie chances and those leaving you scrambling for bogeys- particularly around the greens. It finds a nice rhythm to play at where you never feel underwater, but your attention and thought is required over every shot.
The criticisms of the Gunnamatta will likely be that it lacks the highs or the drama of some of the great courses, it’s not the stern test that some people chase, and it may not even have those defining spectacular holes which elevate the top echelon of courses in the world, but nobody could ever question the flow of the course- following interesting golf holes with interesting golf holes.
Arising from its scale is a multitude of options and a course where the strategy changes every day with the wind and the flag. With every play, something new will reveal itself- an angle, a slope or a strategy which changes how you think about a hole. Gunnamatta is a course which will grow on people and evolve over time as its layers are peeled back – a course which falls to the fun end of the difficulty scale.
Booking a Tee Time
Compared to the Sandbelt, The National is much more accommodating to visitors- both overseas & interstate. The easiest way to book a tee time is through their 'Request a Tee Time' link HERE
Where to Stay
The Mornington Peninsula is a fantastic collection of seaside towns along the dramatic coastline! There are a multitude of towns to stay in, with the most common being Portsea, Sorrento, Rye & Rosebud. They each offer a lovely seaside village experience!
The Melbourne CBD is just over an hour away, so a day trip certainly isn't out of the question!
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
The Mornington Peninsula is a sensational holiday destination for golf, offering a multitude of golf and specifically some of Australia's premium public golf:
- The National (Moonah)
- The National (Old)
- St Andrews Beach
- The Dunes Golf Links
- RACV Cape Schank
- Portsea GC