The Cerberus Golf Club’s layout remains one of the hidden gems among the Mornington Peninsula courses. This is mainly because it has only been open to the general public for a relatively short period of time. Prior to the end of 1999, use of the course was exclusively for Defence Force personnel, their families and their invited guests.
There have been four golf courses constructed at Cerberus (originally Flinders Naval Depot). Golf was first played at the base in 1921 (by the officers only) on a course constructed near the West Gate, west of the current Warrant Officers’ and Senior Sailors’ Mess. This was reclaimed during the Second World War and used as a training area for close-range AA Gunnery firing.
The next course, comprised of just a few holes, was constructed not far from the Wardroom (Officers’ Mess) but was later taken over as a sewage treatment plant. The third attempt at a course was made behind where the base gymnasium now stands; a more suitable location was decided upon, and the new course was located between the base and Stony Point.
Development of the current course began at the end of the Second World War, with the nine holes completed in 1946. The Commanding Officer at the time applied for funding to build a golf course but was denied. He later applied for funding to clear and construct firebreaks around the married men’s quarters. Funding was ultimately approved and the firebreaks, once established, incredibly took on the appearance of nine fairways. The men under punishment, and volunteers, carried out much of the developmental work on the course. Even today, the course still relies heavily on volunteers to supplement the efforts of paid staff.
The original greens were simply flat, circular sections at the end of the fairways until 1974 when club members under supervision of a firm named Green Masters constructed the current greens. In later years, the members built nine extra tees. The additional tees have created eighteen marginally different holes.
Cerberus is a challenging course with an opening par-4 of 407 metres and it has five par-5s ranging in distance from 419 to 507 metres. The fairways are tree-lined and there are beautiful views of Western Port Bay and Hann’s Inlet.
The feature hole at Cerberus is the 507-metre par-5 seventh. With a tee adjacent to the base’s cemetery, and with a backdrop to the green of Western Port Bay and the Dandenong Ranges in the distance, it is indeed a lovely golf hole. More senior members tell of the times when they could easily reach the green in two as it was downhill most of the way without a blade of grass. They likened it to hitting down an aircraft runway. Today, the fairways have a lush coverage of kikuyu and the greens are mixture of bent grass and Poa Annua.
If your a visitor playing for the first time, take note of the single headstone in the cemetery that is at right angles to all the others. History tells us that the occupant, who was a senior officer on exchange from the Royal Navy, selected his own gravesite when terminally ill and wished to be forever left facing his office. This was in the days when the gum trees were in their infancy and the base could be seen from there. Today, the gums stand tall and are a lovely natural feature of this course.
The present clubhouse was built and funded by the members in 1988. It seats around 100 people and has a bar and kitchen area as well as an outside covered patio and barbeque area that is well utilised by social groups. Defence funding for the majority of course maintenance, with the exception of the firebreak, was withdrawn from 1999. To continue as a golf course the club was forced to purchase its own equipment, employ a course superintendent and manager, and fund all other maintenance related to greens, tees and the remainder of the course. In order to increase club revenue to support necessary maintenance, green-fee players were permitted use of the course, following Command approval.
The course now stands as one of the best nine-hole / eighteen-tee courses around. Several social golf clubs have made Cerberus their ‘home’ club and there is considerable interest in Seven-Day membership. On account of the field always being full for the Saturday competitions, Six-Day membership is readily available.
The club is affiliated with the Mornington Peninsula District Golf Association (MPDGA), and the course has a par of seventy-two. Visitors are rarely disappointed and frequently pleasantly surprised by what they discover.