Date: September 05, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Golf trips, the perfect mates experience

I’d like to claim we had Golf Month in mind when we started all those years ago, but that would be a bald-faced lie.

But what isn’t a “porky” is that my mates’ golf trip makes October one of the great months for me every year.

We began as seven mates in Bendigo who wanted to play a few rounds together in a row and an excuse to see a few more of Australia’s great courses outside our back yard.

In a couple of weeks, there’s a dozen of us saddling up for “Murray Masters” trip No.17 – and although a few waistlines have changed and some of the swings aren’t quite as athletic as they once were, it’s with the same excited fervour that we approach our annual golfing pilgrimage.

That’s what this is, really. It’s not about shooting the lights out and having four rounds under par like the stars we watch on TV. It’s about getting away for a couple of nights, reconnecting with blokes I don’t see on a regular basis and having a LOT of laughs.

A shock to us, who once thought we were pretty original with our name, is that we have since bumped into about four other “Murray Masters” groups along the mighty river’s courses.

The bottom line here is that while their trips don’t look as raucous and jovial as ours, I’ll bet they’re run on the same principles of fun and good times.

And when you get out and see Australia with your mates, the golf tends to become secondary.

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Our trip hasn’t been strictly true to the Murray; we’ve been down to the Mornington Peninsula and even interstate down to the spectacular north of Tasmania.

I have friends who rave about trips to Perth and south along the WA coast. I have mates who go to New Zealand every second year and take on the spectacular courses of its south island. I have one bunch of loons whose “Ganza” alternates between domestic and international destinations annually.

Some friends rave about Adelaide and trips up into the hills around Nuriootpa; others to the resort courses of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. I have one mate who won’t even pack his clubs in the car unless he takes in the courses in and around Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

That’s the beauty of Australian golf. Within reason, you can arrange to get on so many good courses with a public bent, particular on weekdays when most golf trips occur. In some regions, you can even lean on local tourism bodies to help you co-ordinate courses, accommodation and even restaurants and winery tours.

I still love the Murray, after all these years. We’ve played from as far north and west as the superbly kept Murray Downs near Swan Hill, all the way down to plethora of choices in and around Albury and Wodonga.

Invariably we drift towards our own little nirvana in the “triangle” between Yarrawonga, Cobram and Tocumwal. The golf is year-round and the courses superbly maintained; the food and wine is always a delight and the accommodation range is sufficient to meet all expectations – budget or top-shelf.

But that’s just us.

You could cruise down the Shipwreck Coast and take in Warrnambool and Port Fairy’s superb coastal offerings. You could bundle together a heap of spectacular courses in and around Cairns or Townsville. Or maybe a driving adventure taking in the wondrous tracks from Merimbula north towards Wollongong.

There are plenty of choices – that’s the bottom line.

And a golf trip with your mates is the perfect way to experience them over time – and keep your mob’s history alive and growing.