Royal Melbourne GC

Royal Melbourne Golf Club, host of this week’s ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf, is Australia’s oldest and most esteemed golf institution.

The club’s famed West Course at Black Rock, designed in 1926 by the world renowned Scottish golf architect, Dr Alister MacKenzie, and opened for play in 1931, is currently rated No 1 in Australia and has continually been ranked as one of the top 15 courses in the World.

The Club’s East Course is another not to be sneezed at. Right now it lies 6th on the list of Australia’s best.

Royal Melbourne, widely regarded as the anchor of the famed ‘Sandbelt, can also lay claim to being Australia’s oldest golf club, for while golf was already being played in the early part of the 19th Century in such places as Tasmania (1920s), Melbourne (1847), Adelaide (1870) and Sydney (1882), none of these early golf institutions were able to survive on a continuous basis as Royal Melbourne has been able to do.


And that’s saying something because the club has had to build and rebuild itself on three separate locations since its inaugural founding at Caulfield in 1891.

Caulfield – 1891 to 1901

The 80 founding members, mostly of a Scottish heritage, who had first established the club at a meeting on Friday 22, May 1891, at Scott’s Hotel in Collins Street, were well aware that their Caulfied course would eventually be subdivided for a housing project and an adjoining park and were ready for the move to Sandringham in 1901.

But before this, they had already instigated the Victorian Golf Cup, inviting players from all over Australia and New Zealand to compete and setting up a premier championship that would eventually become the Australian Amateur Championship with the formation of the Australian Golf Union in 1898.

Earlier, in 1895, it had also been granted the coveted prefixing of ‘Royal’ by Queen Victoria.

Sandringham – 1901 to 1930

Several sites had been considered, when suitable land at Sandringham was found in 1898. The purchase of the land for the course was financed by members buying shares, with a limited liability of £10 in The Royal Melbourne Golf Company Limited.

The new course was officially opened on 27 July, 1901, but in 1905 the course was changed radically and promptly earned the reputation as being the best in Australia.

This was at the time when the Haskell ball was replacing the gutty and ‘the Sandringham era’ was one when the course was used for many championships and when Royal Melbourne’s golfers were prominent in both state and national championships, the most outstanding of these being Michael Scott, Ivo Whitton, Mrs Austin Gatehouse, and Mona MacLeod.

The onset of World War 1 delayed further development of the club, but of key importance to the future of the Club was the opening of a tramline running from Sandringham Station to Black Rock, in 1919.

Black Rock – 1930 to the present

This tramline opened up the possibility of moving the clubhouse further south to Black Rock and using the land to the east to build more courses at a moment in time when the Sandringham land was becoming extremely valuable and selling these blocks would finance the move and the creation of new courses.

Dr Mackenzie, a Scot from England, was chosen to design the new course, and after a few weeks examining the site, he produced a layout, which was accepted by the members on 10 December 1926. Alex Russell, the 1924 Australian Open winner and a club member who was to join Mackenzie as his Australian partner, was chosen, along with Hugh Ross, to supervise the construction of the West course which was opened at Black Rock in 1930.

Throughout the 1920s, many of the members had been pressing for a second course and after a hastily called Extraordinary General Meeting, on 1 November 1929, the cub enthusiastically endorsed the purchase of land for the “Cheltenham Course”, later to be called the East Course, which would be constructed under Russell’s supervision.

Both courses have stood the test of time and with some tweaking in recent years to enable the courses to continue competing with modern golf equipment technology, the two have retained their ratings in the top 100 courses in the world.

The Black Rock era has seen three Clubhouses being built.

The first was the ‘temporary’ 1931 Clubhouse which was replaced in 1968 by a low single-story design of that time, but in 2001, after another series of plans and debates, a new, two-story Clubhouse was agreed to. It was opened in June 2003.

In 1959 the Club was chosen to host the Canada Cup. In order to avoid crossing busy roads, 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East, all in the “main paddock” were chosen, and this became known as the ‘Composite Course’, which for many years was rated in the top 10 courses in the world.

Many important tournaments have been played over this layout, including the Eisenhower Trophy (1968), the World Cup, (previously the Canada Cup) in 1972 and 1988.

The World Cup, an international team event now known as the ISBS Handa World Cup of Golf, will also return to Royal Melbourne in 2013.

In the Club has also hosted The Presidents Cup in 1998, the first time this was held outside the USA, and again this year.


To get the Club’s overhead graphics, all the stats and hole-by-hole descriptions of the West, East and the Composite Courses you will need first to click here and then to click on the course or courses you wish to know about.


The club has a state of the art practice range where professional help from qualified instructors is available and which is open seven days a week Practice Balls are available at A$5 per bucket from the Pro Shop

The clubhouse, which closes at 7 pm daily, contains a members bar and a restaurant where lunch is available from 11am to 5pm sand which packs which can be ordered to take with you on the course.

The club’s Pro Shop, which stocks a wide range of international brands, also carries top-of-the-range hire clubs from Callaway golf at A$65 per round. They should be booked in advance, however

Buggies, which must be pre-booked, are also available from the pro-shop. Pull buggies are free of charge, but electric walk-behind buggies can be hired for A$15 per round. Golf cars are available for hire but require a medical certificate and approval from the management

Caddies are available and should be booked in advance at the Professional Shop.

Credit cards: Only Visa and Mastercard are accepted. There are no ATM facilities at the Clubhouse.


Royal Melbourne is a private club and intending visitors should be members of a recognised interstate or overseas golf clubs in possession of a current membership identification card and a letter of introduction from the home club.

In order to make a booking they will need to fill in a reservation inquiry form on the official Royal Melbourne web site

Payment: Once a reservation has been confirmed, Green Fees are payable in advance.

Green fees for 18 holes:

– A$250.00 per person for interstate visitors.
– A$350.00 per person for overseas visitors.


The Club reserves the right to withhold 50% of payments in the event of Cancellation. No refund will be provided for cancellations made within 48 hours of play.

CONTACT THE CLUBTel: +61 (03) 9599 0500 Fax: +61 (03) 9521 0065
Postal address: PO Box 18, Black Rock Victoria Australia 3193
Street Address: Cheltenham Road, Black Rock Victoria Australia 3193

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