Royal Melbourne Golf Club

Royal Melbourne Golf Club is a 36-hole golf club in Australia, located in Black Rock, Victoria, a suburb southeast of Melbourne. Its West and East courses are respectively ranked number 1 and 6 in Australia.[1][2] The West course is ranked in the top-five courses in the world.[3][4] Founded 128 years ago in 1891, it is Australia's oldest extant and continually existing golf club.[5] Unlike many metropolitan golf venues, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club has a capacity for 15,000 spectators.[6]

The Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Club information
Location in Australia
Location in Victoria
Location in greater Melbourne
Coordinates37.97°S 145.03°E / -37.97; 145.03
LocationBlack Rock, Victoria, Australia
Established1891 (club), 128 years ago
1926 (West)
1931 (East)
Total holes36
Tournaments hostedAustralian Open
The Presidents Cup
Women's Australian Open
West Course
Designed byDr. Alister MacKenzie
Length6,077 m (6,646 yd)
East Course
Designed byAlex Russell
Length6,007 m (6,569 yd)

Royal Melbourne has hosted numerous national and international events. Its 16 Australian Opens are surpassed by only the 17 hosted by The Australian Golf Club. It hosted the 1959 Canada Cup (now Mission Hills World Cup), and the 1972 World Cup. Royal Melbourne hosted the Bicentennial Classic, a tournament to celebrate the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. It was selected by the PGA Tour to hold the Presidents Cup, for the first time outside the United States, in December 1998. The match was convincingly won by the International team, captained by Peter Thomson, an honorary member of Royal Melbourne. The course hosted the Presidents Cup again in November 2011, won by the United States and December 2019.[7] It was the site of the Women's Australian Open for the first time in February 2012, now an LPGA Tour event, and it returned three years later in 2015.


Founded in 1891 as the Melbourne Golf Club ("Royal" prefix given in 1895), the founding president was politician Sir James MacBain, and the founding captain was businessman John Munro Bruce (father of Australian prime minister Stanley Bruce). The principal founding members included P.K. (Patrick Kinney) McCaughan, a New Zealand pastoralist, parliamentarian, businessman and developer and proprietor of the Old Rialto Hotel building in Collins Street.

The club had to give up its original site at Caulfield, much nearer the city centre, because of increasing urbanization. A new links, the "West course", was started at Sandringham in 1898.[8] It planned a move to its present location in the mid-1920s. Royal Melbourne's two current courses are known as the "West" and "East" courses.[9] The West course was designed under the strict standards of famous course architect Alister MacKenzie.[10] He visited the eventual site, located on the renowned Melbourne Sandbelt, south of the city, in 1926. The actual building of the West course was overseen by the famed Australian golfer Alex Russell, as well as the head greenkeeper Mick Morcom; it was completed for play in 1931. The East course was designed by Russell, and was completed in 1932.[10][11]


A combination comprising 18 holes from both the East and West courses that are limited to the main property ("paddock") is known as the "Composite" course. There have been 21 holes used in the history of the "Composite" course, from 1959 to 2011, depending on the event being held.

The East course is less known compared to its world-renowned sister course, but it has still been held in very high regard since its completion. The West course has several holes that are celebrated internationally, but they are not long compared to the current standards for championship par 4s and 5s. The course is strictly landlocked by existing boundaries, which is why these holes have not been greatly extended in recent decades. Significant restoration of the West course (and East course Composite holes), as well as minor lengthening, took place leading up to the 2011 Presidents Cup. As a secondary measure to lengthening, fairway grasses were changed to Legend Couch. This was in order to restrict the progress of the golf ball along the ground.


  1. "The Age Newspaper". Melbourne. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  2. "Golf Australia Magazine 2012".
  3. "US Golf Digest".
  4. "Planet Golf".
  5. "PGA". Archived from the original on 5 May 2012.
  7. "Royal Melbourne named host for 2011". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 September 2007.
  8. "Golf Links at Sandringham". Brighton Southern Cross (8252). Victoria, Australia. 23 July 1898. p. 3. Retrieved 15 January 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  9. Royal Melbourne Golf Club
  10. Royal Melbourne Golf Club, History Of The Courses
  11. The World Atlas of Golf, second, revised edition, by Herbert Warren Wind, Charles Price, and Peter Thomson, London 1988, Mitchell Beazley publishers.
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