My visit to Lang Lang today was the result of two factors coming together. First I didn't think I could comfortably walk 18 holes so I was looking for somewhere I could go round in a cart. Second was that I enjoy country courses and had happy memories from playing the course as a junior back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. So an afternoon drive of a bit over an hour each way from Melbourne's bayside suburbs was in order.
The course is only 5710m (6280y) but it is generally fairly tight and requires skill to keep the ball on the fairways off the tee. The property is undulating but never hilly. It is also built on a sandy loam very similar to Melbourne's famous sand belt. Possibly because of this many of the greens are protected by modest but well shaped and well maintained bunkers.
The first (368m) plays down hill from the club house. The fairway is generous but trees short of the green mean that you will only have a clear shot to the pin from the left side. The green is a good size, protected by bunkers, has a shallow slope and is angled slightly to favour an approach from the left.
The second (403m) plays slightly up hill and has enough dog leg left that the green is not visible from the tee. The fairway is also narrow enough to force bigger hitters to make a choice. They can either play about 220m to the dog leg. They can fly over the trees on the corner. They can curve the ball around the dogleg. Happily I no longer have to make a choice. These choices are a feature of the course. At any rate the hole then plays to a smallish green protected by nearby bunkers. Four is a good score here.
The third (296m) features a water hazard on the left from about the 200m mark to the 250m mark. Big hitters may be tempted but the green is small and protected by bunkers close in. There is ample fairway to the right of the hazard. Again the player must make a choice from the tee.
The fourth (377m) would be a straight hole except for the large trees on the left side at about the 200m mark. There are also large trees on the right side at about the 280m mark. Continuing the theme bigger hitters might choose to take on the straight line to the hole by bombing over the trees or play a shorter shot off the tee. The second shot is pleasantly uphill to a modest green protected by bunkers short and away from the green.
The fifth (126m) has the look of a classic hole. Slightly uphill with bunkers short and long. Surrounded by trees which don't affect play. The green is smallish and slopes from back to front. It doesn't quite play as well as it looks but bring your camera for this one.
The sixth (400m) plays downhill and dog legs to the right. A mature tree at the 200m mark protects the corner. Again bigger hitters might try to bomb over the corner but good luck because the fairway is narrow and the right side is blocked out. The green is a little small for a hole of this length and is elevated. Another hole where par is a good score.
Along with the third, the seventh (436m) presents the best birdie opportunities of the front nine. Uphill and a slight dogleg left, the green is protected by bunkers at the front. Bigger hitters will have no trouble with the distance and even modest hitters will be rewarded with a simply pitch shot to the green.
If other holes present choices then the eighth (375m) is a head scratcher. To say that it is a dog leg right is an understatement. The question is where you aim your tee shot. You can hit around 210m without risk but that will leave a second of around 160m. From that basic option you can aim as far right as you wish. If you pick the right shot and play skifully into the tight part of the fairway you might have a second from around 60 or 70m. More likely you'll be chipping out of the trees. The green is nicely set in a bowl which means you can't see the bottom of the pin or the second and third bunkers near the green.
The ninth (154m) is a nice down hill hole to a good sized green protected by bunkers on both sides.
Ten (367m) is another quality hole. The fairway is generous but there is enough tree trouble to get your attention. The second is to a nicely set green protected by bunkers.
Eleven (373m) is tight enough to cause discomfort from the tee. It turns right a bit shorter than bigger hitters would like. The green is flattish, slightly elevated and is the first hole not protected by bunkers.
Twelve (160m) plays along the highway and from memory it used to be longer. It plays downhill towards mature trees which makes depth perception a little difficult. The green itself is long enough to put a premium on club selection. Bunkers protect the front half of the green.
Thirteen (382m) presents an unusually generous fairway. It pays to drive a little to the right but not so far right as to risk trouble from trees at about the 220m mark. The green is again unprotected by bunkers. It is generous in size fitting the length of the hole and has some slight undulations. Nice hole and another one where par is always a good score.
Like the eighth, fourteen (288m) is a head scratcher. It turns sharply left. You can skirt the trees with a hybrid and have a full wedge to the green. If you fancy yourself you put your ball on your highest tee and aim straight for the green. Beware however that if you can get your ball up fast enough, at the other end there are mature trees on that line which are only 30m or so short of the green. Bunkers surround the small green. This is a card spoiler for the brave if there ever was one.
Fifteen (147m) is another nice par 3. Slightly down hill to a nicely set green there is a bunker short right which is cut right near the edge of the green. Take this hole easily at your own peril.
Sixteen (348m) is slightly uphill to another nicely set but slightly blind green protected by bunkers. The green is a little longer that you might expect. There are a surprising number of good holes on the course. This is one of my favourites.
Seventeen (411m par 5) plays down hill and sharply dog legs right. You can hit your drive over trees on the corner but the landing area is quite small. The green is unusual being significantly above the surrounding fairway. It is also behind mature trees on the left. This is a hole where heroes can make a spectacular birdie or an equally spectacular triple bogey.
Eighteen (299m) plays slightly uphill off the tee and then more abruptly uphill for the second. It is the only hole with a fairway bunker. If you hit your tee shots around 230m then it will be exactly where you would otherwise want to hot your second from. The green itself is narrow but longer in proportion and is protected by a deep bunker on the front left. There is no bail out area for the second. If you steer away from the bunker you are just as likely to finish in a dip to the right of the green.
Overall Lang Lang is well worth a visit but bring your A-game or be patient as your score mounts higher than you might expect.