LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, June 27, 2006 – The second Australian ever to win the US Open, 29 year-old Geoff Ogilvy is a new hero in his home state of Victoria. Naturally, Ogilvy's spectacular feat is drawing eyes the world over to Victoria, a world-class golf destination with vast acres of fairways, greens, bunkers and hazards at more than 375 courses ranging from traditional country links to coastal cliff-top layouts and even grounds groomed by mobs of grazing kangaroos. Golfers playing through Victoria will also find they can combine luxury accommodations, sumptuous food and wine and outstanding play both on and off the course all within an hour's drive from the capital city of Melbourne.
Most Victorian golf odysseys begin in Melbourne, the heart of Victoria and the perfect tee-off for a golf adventure. On arrival, check into a luxury suite at Leading Hotels of the World property the Langham Hotel, with panoramic city views and specialized treatments for men and women at the in-house Chuan Spa. Relaxed and refreshed, play a round at Albert Park, an urban course and driving range offering spectacular shots against the backdrop of the city skyline, before dining at Shannon Bennett's Vue de Monde, serving superb modern Australian cuisine.
Southeast of Melbourne golfers can pitch and putt their way through Victoria's famed sand-belt corridor, home to four of Australia's top ten courses including Ogilvy's own Victoria Golf Club. Play on a collection of elevated greens and gum and tee-tree lined fairways by day, before retiring to the course's beautiful clubhouse by night.
At daybreak, explore other sand-belt beauties such as Kingston Heath, featuring sculptured bunkers and unforgettable par three's, and the Metropolitan, boasting the best fairway turf in the country just 15 minutes from the city center. No trip to the sand-belt is complete without teeing off at the Royal Melbourne, designed by legendary architect Alister Mackenzie and ranked number one in Australia. Dotted with cavernous bunkers and holes flanked by huge stands of native Australian trees, the course is both beautiful and challenging.
Play for a birdie at the beachside courses of nearby Mornington Peninsula to sample some of Victoria's finest greens — and most sumptuous reds. Test your handicap off the course with a wine tasting and picnic lunch of savory Victorian produce and artisan cheeses amongst the vines at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, or head off shore for a boating or fishing excursion in beautiful Port Philip Bay. Or lay up a mulligan at Peppers Moonah Links, enjoy a drink at the Spike Bar, then retire to a luxury suite with sweeping views of the Open Course designed by golf great Peter Thompson.
Another day, another driver. Discover the coastal topography of the peninsula's courses, a hole-in-one for enthusiasts seeking perfect links-style layouts. At The Dunes, Victoria's top public access course, awe-inspiring shots unfold as the wind determines dramatic carries between sand dunes. Go from sand traps to water hazards at nearby Flinders, a stunning cliff-top course named after explorer Mathew Flinders, the first to circumnavigate Australia. The National, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. with layouts by Aussie legend Greg Norman, also features picture-perfect views of the Bass Strait and is perhaps the hardest course to master in Australia.
Norman fans also can explore his par excellence off the green with a glass of wine from Greg Norman Estates, known for its top-ranked Chardonnay, grown in Victoria's renowned Yarra Valley. Go from sipping to chipping at The Heritage, a beautiful course with carpet-like couch fairways surrounded by views of the valley, or slice south again to try for the ultimate Aussie prize, a "pouch-in-one," at the Anglesea Golf Club where the resident kangaroo population, numbering more than 300, act as unofficial greens keepers.
Golf Wine Travel offers "Golf Victoria" land packages combining courses in Melbourne, the Sand-Belt, and Mornington Peninsula, from $2,440 USD per person (based on double-occupancy), including four rounds of golf, excursion to Montalto Vineyards, private transfers, and six-nights luxury accommodation. Add-ons are available for exploring additional Victorian courses. Qantas Airways, Air New Zealand and United Airlines offer daily non-stop and direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Melbourne. For more information, log onto www.golfwineaustralia.com, or call 1-888-607-1717.
For information on Melbourne and Victoria visit Tourism Victoria's website at www.visitmelbourne.com.