2005 Australian Open returns to Moonah Links

BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2005 Australian Open | General | 28 Nov 2004
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The highly rated Moonah Links will host the Australian Open for the second time in 2005 after beating a handful of challengers for the ultimate prize.

The purpose built “stadium” course on the Mornington Peninsula offers unsurpassed vantage points for spectator viewing. And it is also the only Open venue that anyone can play upon payment of a green fee.

All other courses on the rota are located at very exclusive private clubs based primarily in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Open Course at Moonah Links won universal praise from competitors taking part in the 2003 national championship.

Peter Lonard won that title after making a thrilling birdie on the par five final hole to edge out Stephen Leaney and Chris Downes.

Moonah Links provides a mixture of challenges, with countless sand hills creating a series of exhilarating driving holes that bend through waving native grasses. Most bunkers take on a combative appearance due to deep-faced walls rimmed with fescue grass on the top edge.

And the greens – often set in magnificent panoramas – have enough slope to suggest favourable angles of approach. The result is a wonderful links layout of endless fascination that is simply perfect for golf.

“Top players ought to be really thrilled to be playing at the Open Course once again,” explained course architect Peter Thomson. "It’s the one course on earth where they can experience the shear joy of being able to give it a big smash.

“They should relish that, and, in fact, they did the first time in 2003. That’s unique in this day and age. But the punishment is there if they stray off line.

“Bunkering on the Open course is appropriate for an Open Championship course. It’s not friendly. It’s not meant to be. This stamps Moonah Links as a higher championship course than almost every other course that we know of.

“It’s a one-stroke penalty in most instances. The other demand is that you’ve got to play awfully close to these bunkers.

“So every big drive is a calculated risk. But that should be realised and faced up to. I think that’s part of its intrigue.”

Paddy and Helen Handbury recently acquired a majority shareholding in the $150 million Moonah Links development and immediately began a major investment and development program.

This recent acquisition of Moonah Links gives the Handbury family a golf, residential and lifestyle development on both sides of Port Phillip Bay. The Handburys also own the $250 million The Sands Torquay at the start of Victoria’s western Surf Coast.

The new-look Moonah Links team is excited about hosting the national championship and making it a great success in 2005 and beyond.

Construction of additional accommodation and on-site entertainment suites is imminent. These new facilities will compliment the alreay existing and operating Peppers-Moonah Links Resort.

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