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Graced by The Greats

Tournaments at Royal Melbourne

Established in 1891, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is one of the most historic golf clubs in Australia. From its  original site in Caulfield, to its permanent home in the heart of the Melbourne Sandbelt, the Club has hosted a range of important national and international tournaments, both at amateur and professional level. The first of these events was The Victorian Golf Cup in 1894; the most recent the 2019 Presidents Cup which featured 24 of the game’s finest players.

Timeline of Tournaments


The Victorian Golf Cup is the first Australasia-wide tournament held at the Club in Caulfield. It is an invitational event and timed to coincide with Melbourne Cup week. The inaugural tournament is won by L A Whyte of Geelong. Winners are subsequently recognised by the Australian Golf Union as Australian Amateur Champions and the trophy is used for the Victorian Amateur Championship from 1899.


Sydney professional Dan Soutar wins both the Australian PGA (match play) and, two days later, the Australian Open (two rounds of stroke play per day) around the Sandringham layout. It is the first time either tournament is hosted by the Club. RMGC Member, the Hon Michael Scott, finishes runner-up in the Open, 10 shots behind Soutar.


Ivo Whitton claims the first of his five Australian Opens; the second would come the following year, also at Royal Melbourne. He was a member at Metropolitan for these two tournaments but joined RMGC in 1915 under the ‘eminent golfer rule’. Whitton won the national championship again in 1926, 1929 and 1931.


Mona MacLeod, one of the Club’s finest women players between the wars, wins the Australian Amateur Championship at Sandringham in 1921 and 1927 (as well as five Victorian Ladies titles). Mona was one of five MacLeod sisters who were all Members from the 1920s. The sisters in order of age were Mona, Dorothy Phillip, Rhona Struan, Sheila and Margaret MacDonald – and all represented the Club in senior pennant, three of them once appearing in the same team.


Jim Ferrier, an emerging amateur talent from Sydney, takes out the Australian Open around the West Course. He was to turn pro in 1941 and go on to have a stellar career in the US, winning 18 times on the PGA Tour including the 1947 PGA Championship.


The Canada Cup is the first international professional men’s tournament to be hosted by Royal Melbourne. In order to avoid having players and galleries cross busy roads, 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East – all on the ‘main paddock’ – were chosen. This layout became known as the Composite Course. Countries were represented by teams of two and the Australian pair of Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle prevail by 10 strokes over the U.S. team of Cary Middlecoff and Sam Snead.


The women’s version of the Commonwealth amateur teams tournament for men, the Ladies Commonwealth Golf Tournament, is played at Royal Melbourne. It was first played at St Andrews in 1959. The local press make much of the fact the event is organised by women, for women. The Age’s report is headlined: Women Run Their Own Tournament.


The Canada Cup becomes known as World Cup in 1967 and 43 two-player teams contest the tournament at RMGC in 1972. Australia is represented by Bruce Crampton and Billy Dunk. The event is shortened to 54 holes after Friday’s second round is washed out. The Republic of China (Taiwan) team of Hsieh Min-Nan and Lu Liang-Huan ends up winning by two strokes over Japanese pair, Takaaki Kono and Takashi Murakami, marking the ROC’s first victory in the World Cup.


Bob Shearer, who always had a special affinity with RMGC, triumphs in the Chrysler Classic around the Composite Course (as he also did in 1976). It is the first professional (non-teams) tournament to be held on the Composite Course. The tournament is also notable for American Lee Trevino’s outburst after struggling on the lightning fast greens, describing them as “the biggest joke since Watergate”. He is later fined $500, at that time the biggest fine handed out by the Australian PGA.


American Hale Irwin sets a Composite Course record of 64 on the way to winning 1978 Mayne Nickless PGA Championship of Australia.


Spain’s Seve Ballesteros gave the Melbourne galleries a glimpse of his magical appeal when he won the Australian PGA Championship. Trailing by nine shots at the half-way mark of the tournament, the 24-year-old shoots 66-69 at the weekend to become one of the few players to win at the three shrines of golf: St Andrews, Augusta National and Royal Melbourne.     


Eight-time major winner Tom Watson claims his only Australian Open title around the Composite, the American needing to two-putt from the back of the 18th to claim a one-stroke victory over Bob Stanton.

Pictured here is Norman hitting his second shot into the par-5 17th hole (17E)


Always a huge drawcard at Royal Melbourne, Greg Norman claims his first tournament success around the Composite Course when he takes out a rain-shortened Australian Open. Heading into the final round Norman was in a four-way tie for the lead but on the 14th hole (4W) he drills a driver from the fairway of the par-5 that was playing dead into the wind, and his shot finishes six metres from the flag. His nails his putt for an eagle, which paves the way for a memorable two-shot victory.


The Bicentennial Classic is held at Royal Melbourne as part of Australia’s year-long bicentennial celebrations, and attracts perhaps the strongest professional field seen in this country. Featuring Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and a host of other topliners (including the ageing pair of Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle), the $1.5million tournament is won by Rodger Davis in a playoff over Fred Couples. It is the first time a three-tiered grandstand is used for spectators.


A week after the Bicentennial, many players stay on for the World Cup, which is contested by 32 teams of two players. The United States team of Ben Crenshaw and Mark McCumber prevail in a thrilling, one-shot victory over Japanese brothers, Masashi ‘Jumbo’ Ozaki and  Tateo ‘Jet’ Ozaki .


The Johnnie Walker Classic is held at Royal Melbourne for the first time and won by Queensland’s Peter Senior. The tournament is the second of five held at the Club over a busy two-year period, following the Bicentennial Classic and preceding the 1989 Coca-Cola Classic (Isao Aoki), the 1990 Coca-Cola Classic (Ronan Rafferty) and the 1990 Johnnie Walker Classic (Greg Turner).


The Australian Open returns to Royal Melbourne for the sixteenth (and, at the time of publication, last) time. NSW professional Wayne Riley triumphs in spectacular fashion, holing a monstrous birdie putt up the hill on the 18th , to claim a one-shot win over 20-year-old Melbourne amateur, Robert Allenby. Allenby was to have his revenge the following year when he won the Johnnie Walker Classic at RM.


The first Presidents Cup to be played outside the U.S. is held at Royal Melbourne. A newly re-routed Composite Course is unveiled for the tournament, with the closing three holes (18W, 1W, 18E) chosen for their proximity to the Clubhouse. The International team, captained by Peter Thomson, scores a stunning 20.5-11.5 victory in front of enormous galleries, its only success in 13 attempts at the Cup.


The Heineken Classic, sponsored by the Dutch brewer, is staged at RMGC for four successive years until 2005. Ernie Els makes the event his own, winning the first three of those tournaments, while Craig Parry claims the last after a playoff with Nick O’Hern. But it is Els’ course-record 60 in the opening round of the 2004 event, at one point being 12 under par after 14 holes, which lives long in the memory.


The Club begins hosting the prestigious international amateur event, the Master of the Amateurs. It stages the men’s tournament for nine years from 2011, and a host of the players who have competed in that time – Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Will Zalatoris, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Wise (pictured) among them – have gone on to forge impressive international careers. The women’s tournament is added in 2018, won by Japan’s Yuka Yasuda, and in 2019 won by Australian Steph Kyriacou, who turns professional the following year.


RMGC hosts its second Presidents Cup, with Greg Norman captaining the International team and Fred Couples the U.S. team. The Internationals fall behind 2-4 on the opening day and are never able to bridge the gap – despite a brave rally on the final day when they win the first four singles matches. The final result is 19-15 to the Americans, continuing their domination of the event, Jim Furyk (pictured with Tiger Woods), winning all five of his matches through the week.


The first women’s professional event held over the Composite Course, and co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour, is a huge success, culminating in a six-way playoff. Teenage American Jessica Korda eventually prevails, holing an eight-metre birdie putt on the second playoff hole to sneak past Hee Kyung Seo, So Yeon Ryu, Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis and Julieta Granada to claim her first LPGA Tour victory. Korda’s father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis crown.


Once a mainstay at Huntingdale, the Australian Masters is played at RMGC for the first time. Adam Scott ends up winning his second Masters tournament of the year, defending his Australian Masters title after winning the big one – the U.S. Masters – at Augusta in April. Scott bested American Matt Kuchar over the closing holes to continue his stellar season.


A week later, many of the players stay on to contest the World Cup which returns to RMGC for the fourth time. Using a controversial new format which prioritises individual performances over team play, the total purse is US$8 million: $7 million for the individual event and $1 million for the teams. Australia’s Jason Day shoots a final-round 70 to win the individual prize, while he and Adam Scott join forces to win the team tournament for Australia.


Continuing its recent history of hosting top amateur events, RMGC stages for the first time the Asia Pacific Championship which features a number of soon-to-be stars. Australia’s Antonio Murdaca holds off a strong international field to win by a record seven shots.


Lydia Ko, the teenage New Zealander, continues her meteoric career rise when she takes out the Women’s Australian Open. With her two-shot victory over Amy Yang, the 17-year-old becomes the youngest winner of the national championship. It is Ko’s first tournament win since becoming women’s world No.1 a month earlier.


The Presidents Cup is staged at Royal Melbourne for a third time. Erne Els captains the International team and Tiger Woods the U.S. team. The Internationals get off to a flyer, leading 4-1 after day one and 6.5-3.5 after day two, but then the Americans begin to find their form. Led by playing captain Woods, who beats Abraham Ancer in the opening singles match on Sunday, the U.S. team overcomes a two-point overnight deficit to eventually prevail, 16-14, and continue its stranglehold on the event.

The Royal Melbourne
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Victoria, Australia 3193

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