More Australians are playing golf today than at any other time in the past 20 years. But the economic reality, as we emerge from the darkest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, is many of us now need to make our hard-earned dollars stretch a little further. Here, we reveal the 18-hole layouts – and some standout nine-holers – offering Australian golfers the greatest value for money golfing experiences.
Green fees: $45.
Bermagui is famous worldwide as the port gateway to some of the best game fishing in the South Pacific. Upgrades to the course in recent times have significantly improved the layout, which now rates among the best kept courses on the NSW South Coast.
One of the outstanding features of the layout is the variety, in length and appearance, of the holes. For example, the four par-3s range in distance between 141 and 178 metres and each requires a different approach from the tee.
Cherry Gardens, South Australia
Green fee: $50.
Nestled in the heart of the Adelaide Hills, the picturesque Blackwood course was created by Vern Morcom and opened for play in 1961.
Mature gums and towering pines dominate the landscape and line most of the holes. There is a good change of elevation and an equal mix of left and right doglegging holes. This variety adds to the appeal of playing here.
In the early 1990s, designer Tony Cashmore changed six holes on the back nine and these are some of Blackwood’s finest, with the final four holes offering an exciting climax to the round.
Carramar, Western Australia
Green fees: $30 (weekdays); $35 (weekends).
Designed by Bob Stanton, Carramar was built and opened in 1994 by the City of Wanneroo council. Off the championship tees it is renowned as one of the toughest tests of golf in Perth.
There are few straight holes covering the terrain, with densely tree-lined doglegs – left and right – being a feature of a round here. The toughest examination comes at the 423-metre par-4 5th hole, which doglegs left and climbs a hill to the green. It’s long and tight and pars can be rare.
Batemans Bay, NSW
Green fee: $48.
The 27-hole Club Catalina is an impressive layout that has played host to many big events including several NSW PGA Championships.
The fairways are lush year round while the greens have a great cover of bentgrass.
The club has undertaken some recent redesign work by acclaimed architect Harley Kruse, which will further enhance the course’s already good reputation.
Green fee: $35.
Known as “Coomee” to the locals, the layout measures 6,250 metres and winds through Black Box and River gum trees just a pitching wedge (at its nearest point) from the waters of the Murray River.
The bentgrass greens and couch fairways are always in very good condition and complement the design, which is regarded as the most testing in the Sunraysia area and a real hidden gem to those living outside the region.
Green fee: $30.
The merger of three Devonport-based clubs, including the golf club, has given rise to great change here in the past 18 months.
The $10.5 million redevelopment saw the opening of a new clubhouse earlier this year and work is continuing to upgrade the Vern Morcom-designed layout.
Green fees: $40.
Nearly 65 years on from being a one-time host of the Australian Open, one could argue Gailes is definitely a much sterner test than it was back then.
Since South African legend Bobby Locke won that championship, dozens of bunkers have been added to the landscape and its many trees have matured into towering timbers lining each fairway.
Gailes’ rolling landscape gives rise to some very good holes, where strategy and shot placement are the keys to good scoring.
HAWKS NEST GC
Hawks Nest, NSW
Green fees: $39.
Designed by Kel Nagle and Mike Cooper in the mid-1980s, the current Hawks Nest course had a certain degree of anonymity during its first few decades.
Rolling fairways over sand dunes, attractive bunkering and beautifully crafted greens stand alongside vast areas of native Australian bushland and the sound of waves crashing can be heard with an onshore breeze. It is a wonderful setting for golf.
Green fees: $40 (weekdays); $45 (Sundays).
Keperra has a rich golfing tradition and has produced talented Australian professionals John Senden, Peter Senior and Jeff Woodland.
Keperra is widely regarded as one of the prettiest courses in Brisbane.
Set among sub-tropical flora and alongside creeks, lakes and billabongs, it is easy to see why the layout is so popular. Thankfully it also has 27 holes, so getting a game on this picturesque layout should be relatively easy.
LAKES ENTRANCE GC
Lakes Entrance, Victoria
Green fee: $35.
Lakes Entrance covers beautiful links terrain created by banksia and tea tree-covered dunes, lying adjacent to Ninety Mile Beach.
The layout is nicely maintained, while the design garners much of its defence from the coastal winds and some water hazards throughout. For golfing bird-lovers, there’s the chance of spotting some of the 150 different species of birds that call the layout home.
LANG LANG GC
Lang Lang, Victoria
Green fee: $30 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).
Lang Lang’s strength is the wide variety of shots you need to score well here.
The layout boasts a terrific set of par-3s, with each playing to different points of the compass, ensuring no two clubs or shot types will be the same into these greens during a round.
It’s a wonderful setting to play golf. Surrounded by scenic forest landscapes, the layout – designed by former Australian Open champion George Naismith – is built on pure sand, which makes it playable year-round.
Green fees: $40 (weekdays), $50 (weekends).
The Blue Mountains course has changed significantly during its 100 years, but what hasn’t changed is the wonderful setting, which climaxes greenside of the par-4 14th hole.
Having played across the crest of a hill and down to the green, it’s not hard to be distracted by the view down the length of the Jamison Valley. Members will tell you can see for nearly 50km down the valley to the edge of the Southern Highlands. It is simply breathtaking.