A beautiful day for round 3 of the Sandbelt Invitational Tournament.
All the way back in 1969 Lee Trevino and Bruce Devlin fought out the Dunlop International at Yarra Yarra. At the time it was the richest tournament in the country and to a twelve-year-old in awe of anyone with their name on their bag it seemed to be an amazing golf course.
Over the years I played a lot of golf at Yarra Yarra and watched as the course changed. Mostly the changes didn’t equate to improvements and the golf course architecture nerds in the city despaired of the club ever getting back to its Alex Russell roots.
Tom Doak was called in a few years ago with the hope he could revitalise the course and the result is nothing short of a stunning success. The extraneous trees are gone. In the fashion of Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath, fairways are shared in the appropriate places and the committee-altered Russell greens were restored. The condition of the course is improved and whilst see that as important it’s simply a bonus coming on top of the architectural improvements.
The overwhelming consensus of the Sandbelt Invitational players and spectators is Yarra Yarra is right back amongst the upper echelon of courses in the city. It’s far from long but there is nothing but pain for those missing in the bunkers cut on the same side of the green as the pin and this has always been the Russell-imposed defence of the golf course.
Brady Watt, the Perth man who moved to Melbourne half a dozen years ago held his lead after a four-under-par 66. The members used to the 72 par would consider it six under but the reality of the modern game is the 16th and 18th holes are barely long par fours. No matter the par, both are quality holes and finishing in even fours is no mean feat.
The final round at Peninsula-Kingswood’s South Course will be a test for the leader albeit his lead is five shots. The course is the longest of the four, the greens are not easy and by this stage of the tournament players are accustomed to greens where fixing pitch marks is about as common a driver, long iron par four.
John Lyras was around in a brilliant 64 to move into second place, a shot ahead of new pro, Jed Morgan and the very experienced Marcus Fraser.
Grace Kim leads the women at one under but the most striking round of the day was perhaps the 74 by 13-year-old Amelia Harris.
You never know with young kids and how they develop as players but is there any more fun that watching someone barely a teenager swinging the club beautifully, hitting the ball properly and playing with real joy?
I would also like to commend the volunteers and members at Yarra Yarra for their kindness and generosity to deliver a successful tournament. I truly admire the vision of the Sandbelt Invitational and I can see it as one that will grow exponentially to inspire and develop the next generation of Australian amateur golfers. I have taken away an abundance of knowledge from this week to apply into bettering myself as a golfer and as a person. Thank you for your support behind this.” – Belinda Ji
“Many thanks to everyone at the Ogilvy Foundation firstly for the invitation and also for a tournament very well staged. Your approachability and commitment to mentoring young talented golfers makes you a special gift to Australian golf. Kingston Heath, Royal Melbourne, Yarra Yarra and Peninsula/Kingswood deserve great credit for allowing future Australian golf stars the opportunity to play and experience the worlds very best courses and presenting their courses in outstanding condition.
Each course was exactly the stern test of golf which I expected of championship golf and why I love golf on the Sandbelt so much. Also these special courses, their Board’s, the Members and staff need to be commended for the wonderful hospitality shown to us during the week and the help and assistance around the clubs and parking.
I’m sure most of the young players, like me will feel a little beat up playing such firm, fast greens and tough pin positions but hope they enjoy the challenge of learning more about the strategy required to play the courses and even more about themselves and their preparation for tournament golf. – Peter (Chook) Fowler
“This tournament will get better each year. The courses were difficult and it’s always going to be tricky setting them up for Lucas Herbert, Su Oh and Amelia Harris – the 13-year-old who played really well. 74,76 the last two rounds was amazing golf on courses way more difficult than she is used to. And I had no chance of shooting even 86,82 at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath when I was 13 and it was like Sunday at the Australian Open.
I think this tournament tells a good story, we need it as we can’t rely on the Australian Open and the odd Presidents Cup to satisfy the yearning to see good golf on great courses. – Mike Clayton
“Thank you to the entire team at Yarra Yarra for your wonderful hospitality and support of the Tournament. What a terrific Round Three of the inaugural Sandbelt Invitational, a hole in one and a course record!” – Justin Grenfell-Hoyle