Four golf courses near Geelong scouted for 2026 Commonwealth Games – Sydney Morning Herald

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Four of the Bellarine and Surf Coast’s most prestigious golf courses have emerged as contenders to host the debut Commonwealth Games golf tournament in 2026.
13th Beach, the host of the Vic Open, shapes as the obvious choice for organisers, who have begun scoping out clubs near Geelong with the capability of hosting world-class golf and crowds of up to 100,000 across four days.
But The Sands Torquay, Lonsdale Links and Barwon Heads Golf Club have also been given the opportunity to showcase what their facilities have to offer, hosting a delegation of organisers in the past month as part of the venue selection process.
Lonsdale Links golf club is one of four leading contenders on the Bellarine Peninsula to host Commonwealth Games golf in 2026.Credit:Lonsdale Links
Thomas Jefferies, director of golf at The Sands Torquay, said his club was toured by a handful of organisers “two or three weeks ago”, where the club showed off its accommodation offerings, restaurant and function spaces, as well as its 18-hole course.
“We can have grandstands on every green, there’s a full driving range, chipping green, massive putting green, big car park; basically just the space that we can provide [is part of our pitch],” he said.
“I think they’d be trying to get similar [crowd numbers] to the Vic Open in its peak, which is about 100,000 through for the four days, which is something that The Sands could do.
“It would put us back on the map, and basically, we’d be able to showcase what a great facility we have here. We have dropped out of the rankings a little bit because we’ve been trying to rebuild with the owners who have been here for two years.
“I definitely think we’re a top 50 golf course, I don’t think that’s unreasonable, we just have to get back in the rankings by showcasing what a good product we have.”
Jefferies said his course was excited about the potential to host a Commonwealth Games, which could feature the likes of world No.1 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), English pair Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick, and Aussie stars Cam Smith and Adam Scott.
“I think we have a world-class golf course, especially off the black tees, it’s over 7000 yards,” Jefferies said.
“That’s unheard of in Australia, not that it needs to be that distance to be challenging.”
The Sands Torquay is another potential golf host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.Credit:The Sands Torquay
But what 13th Beach offers is two 18-hole courses, both firmly considered among the top 100 courses in Australia, and the experience to host major events, given their stranglehold on the Vic Open.
“I hope the committee don’t see it as [an easy decision], [and miss out] in putting another golf course on the map,” Jefferies said.
“[But] it’s not going to be bitter feelings if 13th get it, I’m going to be watching it either way. It’s going to be great for the region no matter what.”
The other courses in the mix are Lonsdale Links in Point Lonsdale, and Barwon Heads Golf Club. Both are regarded among the top 50 golf courses in Australia, but are yet to prove they can logistically hold a major event.
“We’ve had a visit from a delegation, but as far as any other detail, it’s pretty early in the process at the moment, Lonsdale Links general manager Josh Hall said.
“Hopefully, we were able to impress the delegation to the point we’re able to make a pitch.”
Curlewis and Portarlington, among the other top golf courses in the region, have not been approached.
Organisers are expected to cut the list down from four in coming weeks. Geelong and the Bellarine are earmarked to host golf at the 2026 Games.
Golf has not featured at the Commonwealth Games previously, but has been part of the past two Summer Olympics programs, in 2016 and 2020, after returning from a 112-year hiatus at Rio de Janeiro.
Four of the Bellarine and Surf Coast’s most prestigious golf courses.Credit:Archives
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