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.
Loxton North, South Australia
Green fee: $40.
From a dusty start in the 1950s, Loxton has bloomed into a lush layout dominated by eucalypts, casuarinas, melaleucas, bottlebrushes, wattles and Aleppo pines alongside its fairways and surrounding its bentgrass greens.
Adelaide-based course designer Brian Crafter oversaw the construction and shaping of the putting surfaces, which are renowned for their year-round quality. From tee to green, Loxton’s fairways are predominantly couch, but they have also been sown with Kentucky Bluegrass, which provides a terrific playing surface year round.
Pitt Town, NSW
Green fees: $40 (weekdays); $50 (weekends).
The par-72 links-style layout offers plenty of fun and interesting holes, which are enhanced by the setting – 230 undulating acres featuring vast areas of natural, wild rough as well as wetlands rich with birdlife. The majestic Blue Mountains on the western horizon also form a picturesque backdrop to every hole.
Green fees: $38.
Maleny was, until recently, one of the hidden golfing gems of Queensland golf.
The final six holes of the layout, designed by Graham Papworth, only opened for play in February this year. Then, in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, the golfing world discovered this picturesque course primarily built by volunteers, under the direction of course superintendent Mick McCombe.
When 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott played a live match on Instagram against his mate and former touring pro Wayne Perske (the club’s pro and manager), it thrust Maleny onto the world stage.
Green fee: $45.
Variety is Moruya’s greatest asset. No two holes can be mistaken for another, with a very good mix of long, short, straight and doglegging holes.
Water plays its role in the design with a meandering creek through the property coming into play eight times during a round.
But it is Moruya’s unique close to both nines that you will remember. The 370-metre par-4 9th shares a huge green with the 338-metre par 18th. The enormous putting surface, easily the largest on the NSW South Coast, is a fitting end to two tough holes. The 18th is the harder of the two holes where a solidly hit approach must avoid the biggest lake on the course, right of the green.
In recent years, Moruya has earned a good reputation for the quality of the course – its enjoyable design and well-presented greens and fairways – while its modern clubhouse has added to its appeal to golfers visiting the NSW South Coast.
Green fees: Bay Course – $40 (weekdays); $45 (weekends). Brook and Gateway Course – $30 (weekdays); $35 (weekends).
Nudgee is the home club of European Tour winner Scott Hend and is one of Queensland’s emerging layouts.
The club offers 27 holes but will return to a 36 hole facility by late 2021 once renowned course architect James Wilcher completes his redesign work as part of the club’s masterplan.
Green fee: $25 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).
Penrith has a long-held reputation for presenting high quality pure couch fairways and bentgrass greens, which is probably why it has hosted major events in past years including the NSW Open, NSW PGA and Australian Seniors PGA Championships.
Green fee: $29 (weekdays); $39 (weekends).
Richmond is the home of the Australian PGA Seniors Championship, which was won by Peter Senior in 2019.
The parkland layout is beautifully presented year round and an epic trilogy of holes on the back nine will excite. Holes 13 to 15 comprise Richmond’s version of ‘Amen Corner’ and include two robust par-4s – the latter with twin water hazards to negotiate on opposite sides of the fairway – before a strong, 164-metre par-3 across water to a wide but shallow green.
RICH RIVER GC RESORT
Green fee: $50.
With two courses – the highly-rated East and West layouts – to choose from, Rich River offers a golfing smorgasbord and great value for money.
The Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge designed East course has become the club’s flagship and recent renovation work has raised the level of the golfing experience even more. The West Course has also recently undergone some changes, with the emphasis on making the layout fun, so it can be enjoyed by all standards of golfers.
THAXTED PARK GC
Woodcroft, South Australia
Green fees: $35 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).
Thaxted Park is one of South Australia’s most improved courses in recent years.
The quality of the Santa Ana couch fairways and bentgrass greens are very good, while designers Neil Crafter and Paul Mogford (Golf Course Strategies) have also been carrying out extensive redevelopments on the front nine.
THE RIDGE GC
Barden Ridge, NSW
Green fees: $39 (weekdays); $46 (weekends).
The Ridge is a popular layout because of the interesting and fun design, combined with good playing surfaces. The back nine of James Wilcher’s design is outstanding and there are no more memorable holes than the long par-5 10th where the final approach must avoid water and sand to reach the huge angled green.
Green fee: $48.
Another of the big Murray River courses boasting 36 holes in a beautiful, idyllic regional Australia setting.
The Presidents and Captains courses both offer different experiences but are equally great value for your golfing dollar. The clever routing of both layouts, with each nine starting and finishing near the clubhouse, means there are six course combinations to keep you entertained.
Green fees: $35 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).
Toowoomba is carved out of beautiful natural parkland with tall gums and pines lining most of the lush kikuyu fairways.
The Penncross bentgrass greens are widely regarded as some of the best to be found in the Sunshine State and are a pleasure to putt on.
Toowoomba’s signature hole, the downhill 123-metre par-3 7th, is one you’re sure to remember. The front and left edges of the green sit just above the water line of a large dam, while a bunker can be easily found to the right of the subtly sloped putting surface.