An excerpt from coffee table book, 'Honesty Box Golf Courses of Western Victoria'
An older Winchelsea Golf Club member spends a Friday morning in spring whacking golf balls in the wrong direction down the ninth hole.
“He’s done that for years,” says Club captain Michael Hedger.
It speaks to the laissez-faire attitude of the Club, which has had enough hardship to put things in perspective.
Amid drought in the late 2000s, Winchelsea’s layout was bone-dry, riddled with cracks and - if not for the nine flagsticks - barely resembled a golf course.
“The cracks in that [ninth] green were so wide that if you played the ball onto it, we told [golfers], take two and walk to the next tee; you couldn’t putt on it,” says life member Greg Rigby.
Dry fairways in summer were still a problem - albeit manageable - much more recently but since Winchelsea won a $75,000 State Government grant to install new irrigation, it has boasted what Rigby calls a “constant carpet of grass.”
Pictured (from left): Winchelsea Golf Club captain Michael Hedger and life member Greg Rigby.
Winchelsea’s grass greens can be traced to a freakish turn of events in 1989.
“They got a violent wind storm and blew a whole heap of top soil off the potato paddocks between here and Inverleigh,” says Rigby.
“The dirt was so thick, it blocked the road. They had to get front end loaders in and trucks to clear the stuff. They had all this potato soil they didn’t know what to do with so they dumped it around the course and established greens.”
At the time, the local council’s outdoors foreman was an ex-president of Winchelsea and the soil made its way onto the golf course at no cost to the Club.
“He was responsible for a lot of things happening at the Golf Club,” Rigby says.
Anyone who’s played Winchelsea will remember the par-three second hole known as “The Quarry”.
The 120-metre blind tee shot plays directly over a row of olive trees to a sunken green in an old bluestone quarry; little ground for praise from staunch followers of traditional golf course architecture though a charming experience for others just happy to have a hit.
Click on the image above to watch a video of Winchelsea's 'Quarry' hole.
Another quirk at Winchelsea is the beautiful pine tree in the centre of the par-four fourth fairway about 50 metres short of the green, which polarises members.
“A lot of them don’t [like it] but it’s a challenge,” says Hedger.
Less controversial are the pair of basalt bridges built on the ninth hole at Hedger’s insistence.
“A stonemason owed me a favour or two.”
To order a copy of 'Honesty Box Golf Courses of Western Victoria'', click here