Review: Wembley Golf Course – Golf Australia Magazine


On a public golf course, you can simply pay your green fee and walk among nature’s bounty to try and get a small white ball from point A to point B in as few strokes as possible. It only takes one shot – hit anywhere near the center of the face in the general direction you’re aiming – to feel the golf bug’s bite. Before you know it, you’ll be investing in a new set of clubs and having a tee time with friends
every week.

Thus, tens of thousands of Australians discovered or discovered a
Love for golf during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the game’s dramatic rise in popularity and participation since 2020, public golf courses, particularly those built on community land in urban areas, have come under pressure from non-golfing sources campaigning to make better use of the valuable green space could become larger community. Some have even suggested that these courses are the playgrounds of the few and a waste of the public’s money.

Nothing is further from the truth.

In fact, the gains are far-reaching when a local government embraces its golf facility and actively encourages its use. Golfers enjoy the health and social benefits of the game, while the financial contribution to the community treasury helps the wider community.

That is exactly what the smart people of the Town of Cambridge Council in Perth did in 2010 and today Wembley Golf Course is the most successful public golf course in Australia and local governments across the country would do well to follow their example.

The 15th descent of the Tuart layout is a raging par 5 where risk can bring big rewards. PHOTO: Brendan James.

Almost $30 million has been invested at Wembley to create this wonderful public golf showpiece. The entire complex includes two 18-hole courses – Old and Tuart layouts – a state-of-the-art 80-hole automated driving range, short game practice area, miniature golf course, one of the country’s largest pro shops and Western Australia’s only PGA learner – and performance center. The focal point is a stunning, architecturally designed clubhouse that includes the award-winning 300-acre restaurant and bar, a 200-seat event space and children’s playground.

It is an impressive complex that is a far cry from the humble beginnings of golf at Wembley almost 90 years ago.

In 1933 a private company, Wembley Downs Public Golf Course Ltd, was leased the 150 acres to build a course on the present site – on the north side of the boulevard in Floreat Park – which is now about 15 minutes’ drive west of that CBD.

Under the direction of engineer-turned-course-designer Walter Fox, trees and shrubbery were cleared – mostly by hand – from the hilly topography to the east of where the clubhouse now overlooks the property.

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The then Perth City Council took over the course in 1943 and in the years following the Second World War set about improving the original layout and adding a further nine holes in the 1950s. The remaining nine holes to complete a 36 hole complex were opened in 1983 and the ‘new’ 18 were later named the Tuart Course.

TO THE RIGHT: The short par 4 7 is one of only a few straight holes on the old Fox course design. PHOTO: Brendan James.

Perth’s rededication in 1995 resulted in Cambridge City Council taking over the complex. Serious investment and planning to transform Wembley into the premier public golf course that greets you today began in 2010 and was completed in six years.

In the last financial year, Wembley played more than 175,000 rounds and 21 million balls were hit on the driving range… a stunning testament to the Town of Cambridge Council’s wise investment in public golf.

The golfing experience at Wembley – whether you’re playing 9 or 18 holes, hitting a few balls on the range, taking lessons or playing mini-golf with the kids – is good and should encourage you to keep coming back.

The Tuart Course with the Perth skyline in the background. PHOTO: Brendan James.

For example, the deductions are not gender-specific, but linked to a player’s skills. As you head to the 1st tee, a sign will prompt you to play from the colored tee that best suits your game. If you break 80 regularly, be sure to play off the back black tees. Generally, if you score between 81 and 99, the green tees are for you, while those scoring over 100 should play from the white tees. These recommendations aren’t a hard and fast rule, but they’re designed to help players get more enjoyment out of their round and maintain a good pace of play.

Fox’s original Old Course has easily stood the test of time as its layout remains as it was nearly 90 years ago. It’s not a long course by modern standards at 5,793 meters from the back markers, but there are some serious challenges over the course of a lap.

Although this layout was Fox’s only foray into golf course architecture, he clearly had an eye for what makes golf interesting and challenging.

Running over hilly terrain, there are few straight holes that wind between this most heavily wooded area of ​​the property. Huge stands of tuart, banksia and gum trees line each hole and are the obvious hazard when you stand on each tee.

The round begins with a birdie opportunity if you find the fairway off the elevated tee. The first half of the 466 yard, par 5 first hole runs downhill to the corner of a dogleg links fairway, which could prove troublesome for the long hitter who doesn’t easily turn his drive from right to left. Three bunkers – two on the right and one on the left – lie just before the green, which is an odd shape with a narrow tongue of putting surface to the left of a much larger and deeper section to the right.

The Old Course has some interesting short par 4s and two come in the middle of the round. The 262 meter par 4 hole 9 will tempt you to crack your driver as it is a relatively straight hole that gradually slopes uphill to a bunkerless green in front of the clubhouse. It’s a second pothole and if you can get the yardage right with your short approach to exit a putt uphill, you have a great chance of making a birdie.

On the way back out, the 307-yard par 4 10th requires more attention off the tee, as a large bunker awaits you at the end of the slight dogleg on the left fairway. From the elevated tee, take any club that leaves you short of the sand, on the right half of the fairway and within a patch of green that slopes from right to left.

For me the most memorable sequence of holes at Wembley is on the back nine of the Tuart Course, beginning with the nerve-wracking short par-4 14 and ending with the tiny par-3 18.

The 14th is a tight two-shotter from 318 yards from the back tees. The fairway strip curves slightly to the left and opens to reveal a narrow deep green cut to the edge of a lake on the left and a lonely bunker on the right.

At 472 yards, the par 5 is the longest of any hole at Wembley and is one of my favourites. It plays much shorter than the scorecard number as the journey from tee to green is all downhill. The extra length of your drive here will tempt many to try to hit the green in two. But it’s a hard shot from a position where the ball is likely to be slightly under your feet (for right-handers), encouraging left-to-right ball flight, and the slope of the green and surrounding area is down to the right and a deep green bunker . Try to fight the hanging lie and keep your shot to the left of the flag and you’ll be faced with a test downhill chip or putt.

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The Tuart final hole is the shortest of any par 3 at Wembley and is also the newest hole built and put into play a decade ago during construction of a dam. The 125 yard hole requires a tee shot played over the edge of the aforementioned dam to a large two tier putting surface guarded by a wasteland bunker to the right and a small trap set into the front right edge of the green is cut. It’s a deceptive tee shot as the hole plays slightly uphill bringing sand into play for those who choose the wrong club.

If, after playing either or both layouts at Wembley, you’re determined to move from the white tees to the green or black then you’ve come to the right place to improve your game.

The sharp dogleg right, par 4, 18th is a challenging finale to the Old Course. PHOTO: Brendan James.

Wembley is home to Australia’s second PGA center for learning and performance, offering the latest game-enhancing technologies such as Trackman and Sam PuttLab, and a team of certified PGA professionals including former Tour star Michael Long. And if you’re looking to improve your short game, one of the game’s finest exponents with a wedge in hand, nine-time Tour winner Brett Rumford, can be booked for a lesson.

It’s easy to see why Wembley is so popular. Here you can immerse yourself in the game, whether on the course, on the range or chipping and putting in the short game area… 175,000 rounds and 21 million range hits in 12 months speak for themselves.

FACT FILE

POSITION: The Boulevard, Wembley Downs, Perth, Western Australia

CONTACT: 1300 818 574

WEBSITE: www.wembleygolf.com.au

DESIGNERS: Walter Fox – Old Course (1932); Unknown – Tuart course
(1959 & 1983).

PLAY AREAS: Kikuyu (fairways), bent grass (greens).

INSTRUCTOR: Darren Wilson.

PGA PROS: Jason Roach, Michael Long, Simon Smith, Brad Parker, Paul Criddle, Brett Rumford, Shannon Coad, Ricky Oh, Julian Putter, Claire Elvidge, Josh Madden, Andrew Thomas, Richard Brain, Matthew Elliott and Travis Lord.

GREEN FEES: $37 (18 holes, weekdays, booked online), $44 (weekends); $40 (18 holes, weekdays, booked by phone or in person), $47 (weekend). Concessionary, Super Senior and Twilight fares are also available.

MEMBERSHIP: Membership is $229 per year, $99 for juniors and includes the Golf Australia/Golflink official handicap, access to advance online booking and a host of other benefits.

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