The European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic returns to The Vines Golf Resort in Perth next week and Aussie Golfer’s Western Australian correspondent, Piers Lewis gives us a review of the course the Sandgroper’s love. Let’s hope the pro’s are reading and give the buffet breakfast a miss.
Ratings (out of 10)
Course difficulty: 6
Course rating: 8.5
Timeliness : 6
19th : 8
The Vines has been one of the top courses in WA for some time, and continues to provide an excellent course at reasonably expensive prices, but most importantly you don’t feel ripped off when you leave. Although losing the Heineken Vines Classic many years ago to those thieving Victorians, it has snared the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic in February, so it can claim to be part of the international calendar once again.
And that is good news for West Aussies, as international golf tournaments are good for youngsters wanting to make it in the world of golf. Actually, saying that, the Vines Classic is where I gave up all hope of being a golf pro at the ripe old age of only 14.
Following around the then biggest draw card in golf, John Daly, I was a little disappointed that he had decided to leave the driver in the bag that year.He still hit his 2 iron about 50 yards longer than Norman (and apparently drunk the Vines out of all Crown Lager).
While following John around, he put his 2 iron on the 14th into a fairway bunker around 140m out from the green. Not only that, the green was blocked by a big mother of a tree. Long John then proceeded to punch an iron out of the bunker, fading around the tree and rolling it between two green side bunkers to within 40 feet of the hole.
I was in awe. What a shot. Daly then threw his club back at his caddy and was visibly upset that he had left it short. So I decided right then and there that if that shot was not a good shot for the pros, then I’d better concentrate on my tertiary studies.
At $89 for a round it isn’t cheap, but that includes an electric buggy which is a necessity around the 36 holes on offer. Both the Lakes and the Ellenbrook course are top quality, being rated 5th and 18th best resort courses in Australia in 2007, according to Golf Australia Magazine. The Lakes being the better course as the final 3 holes which must go close as the best closing sequence in the world.
Ellenbrook is a solid lay out with a variety of challenges.The Ellenbrook course was not particularly long, but the rough is unforgiving. Any wayward drives, if they are lucky enough to avoid the numerous water hazards or bunkers, are unlikely to be seen again as bush and shrubs are thick and prickly (and it just feels like snake territory, even if it isn’t).
There are bunkers everywhere and extraordinarily well placed, and no silly “middle of the fairway” types either. Good. The speed and size of the greens are usually what make the Vines so tough.
It was the first course that I played on that had lightning quick greens, but when reviewed they were reasonably slow due to sanding recently, hence the lowish difficulty factor. Usually it would be a 7.5 I’d say.
Overall it is a great set up. The hotel is top class, although I didn’t see these young ladies when I was there.
Highlights: The closing 3 holes of the Lakes.Resort is excellent, with the surrounding Swan Valley great for wine tours if you like a drop of vino.
Lowlights: Food – my buffet breakfast was horrible. I love my buffet breakfasts like any other good golfer does, but this as really disappointing. I will blame my stonking hangover, but it should have made it easier.