The architect of this renowned Sandbelt course was Alex Russell who, in 1926, formed a partnership with the famed Dr Alister MacKenzie during his visit to Australia. Today, the course remains substantially the same as the original layout and like all great golf courses, has stood the test of time.
YARRA YARRA GOLF CLUB STARTS ALEX RUSSELL RESTORATION WITH RENAISSANCE GOLF DESIGN IN 2018.
The Yarra Yarra Golf Club moved to its current East Bentleigh location in 1928, entrusted the design and construction to Alex Russell, the Australian partner of the legendary Dr Alister MacKenzie, in what is regarded as the golden era of golf course architecture. While many of the original design elements remain in 2017, many of the subtleties and intent of the original Alex Russell design have been hidden from view.
After an exhaustive process, in April 2017, the Club appointed Renaissance Golf Design (RGD) as consulting architects to restore the uniqueness of our original design.
“Yarra Yarra is one of the finest courses designed by the esteemed Alex Russell and stands up extremely well in a neighbourhood noted worldwide for fine and unique golf courses. Mr. Russell surely made the most of an elegant piece of property. It is with great pleasure that we have been appointed by the Yarra Yarra Golf Club.” Tom Doak, Renaissance Golf Design
The key themes of the restoration are:
- Generally – Views across should feature greens, bunkers and the character of the land;
- Tees – To integrate the tees into their surrounds as part of greater decluttering of the site. Artificial tee pads and any other visual impediments should be eliminated or suppressed.
- Bunkers – To remove superfluous bunkers and/or reshape those bunkers which are out of character with the Russell style evidence elsewhere.
- Fairway mowing – To adjust fairway mowing lines to fully engage with hazards and present strategic risk/reward angles into tucked hole locations. Fairway bunkers wherever possible should feel like they intrude on fairways instead of merely flanking them.
- Greens – Restore altered greens where possible. Where they can’t be restored to their original location, at least rebuild them to look and play like original Russell greens elsewhere on the course. Surviving original greens should be inspected carefully for expansion to regain lost pin positions.
- Interconnectedness – to judiciously open gaps in the forest for the golf and landscape to benefit.
- Low Hanging Fruit – to start with relatively low disruption/ high impact works.
“The fundamental reason for appointing an RGD is to ensure the Club’s viability into the future. To stay where we are risks consigning us to allowing external forces influence our longevity. To ensure a viable future we need to have a course that reflects the greatness of its original design; that is fun and challenging so that people want to play the course; and a Club that people want to join – for the next 50 – 100 years.” David Blake, President
“With Brian Slawnik leading the RGD team here at Yarra Yarra there is justifiable optimism that, in the not-too-distant future, our course will return to its rightful position as a top level course in this country.” Bruce Davison, Captain
“The vision that RGD have for our site is simple; Restore the genius of Alex Russell’s gem and then showcase it to the world. The membership of Yarra Yarra is extremely excited for the future of our already magnificent Club.” Peter Vlahandreas, General Manager
Yarra Yarra is excited for our future. We have appointed one of the worlds most respected golf course architects who has been responsible for the creation and restoration of some of the finest golf links around the globe.
The Club believes that the appointment of Renaissance Golf Design allows our club to revive what was once one of Australia’s premier golf courses.
“The Opening Seven”
In Tom Doak’s ‘Confidential Guide’, a review of the architecture of the best courses in the world, the four par 3s at Yarra Yarra are rated seventh (the only course in this category in the Southern Hemisphere). The 11th hole, described by Peter Thomson as a ‘national treasure’, is invariably in the experts’ collections of the best 18 holes in Australia.
The superb greens and bunkers are the highlight at Yarra Yarra and as good as many of MacKenzie’s own creations. Typically large, fast and undulating, the greens feature some of the most extreme slopes in Melbourne, while the bunkers are constructed to blend naturally with their surrounds and are intrinsic to the strategy of each hole.
The course has been the scene of many major tournaments in its history, leading to world-wide recognition by amateurs and professionals alike.