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.
Busselton, Western Australia
Green fees: $50.
Designed by Murray Dawson, Busselton is widely regarded as one of the finest West Australian courses to be found outside Perth.
Its well-manicured wide fairways wind through beautiful woodlands featuring magnificent redgums and peppermint trees.
Green fees: $40.
It is almost 20 years since course designer Ross Watson redesigned the Cairns layout and raised the level of the golfing experience there.
Watson’s changes dramatically improved the variety of holes of the layout, which is laid out amidst tropical and native landscaping against an ever-present Great Dividing Range backdrop.
Stratham, Western Australia
Green fees: $30 (Mondays); $45 (Tuesday to Sunday).
Laid out on relatively flat terrain, Capel features fairways lined with mature tuart, jarrah, banksia and peppermint trees.
There are a few holes, however, that offer elevated views of the fairway in front, with the 154-metre par-3 12th being one of the standouts. The downhill one-shotter has bunkers left and right and is surrounded by trees, which makes judging the wind tough.
CITY GC TOOWOOMBA
Green fees: $40.
The home of the Queensland PGA Championship is thickly tree-lined with kikuyu fairways and bentgrass grass.
The trees are mature and do encroach into the fairways, ready to catch just the slightest mis-hit, as will the creek that meanders through the layout.
Green fee: $42 (weekdays); $45 (weekends).
Corowa is set among some of the biggest river gums on the Murray River.
The golfing home of Tour player and Olympian Marcus Fraser boasts 27 holes, which are a mix of 18 older-fashioned holes created in the 50s and 60s, with nine modern creations that include huge greens, rolling swales and enormous bunkering.
COUNTRY CLUB TASMANIA
Prospect Vale, Tasmania
Green fees: $45.
This Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge-designed layout has gums and pines lining relatively wide fairways, which are punctuated by water hazards and strategically placed bunkers that will challenge even the best players. That said, the forward tees here present a more enjoyable experience for the golfer more skilled on the roulette wheel inside the resort’s casino.
DUNSBOROUGH LAKES GC
Dunsborough, Western Australia
Green fees: $49.
Golfers of all abilities can really enjoy Dunsborough Lakes, which has big wide avenues, large rolling greens and expansive bunkering.
The best hole, arguably, is left until last. A lake flanks the entire right side of the 422-metre (from the tips) par-4. Fairway bunkers – one left and two right – line the driving zone. A tee shot skirting the edge of the right bunkers leaves a direct line, over the water and a hazard-defining stone wall, to the angled green.
Green fee: $40.
There are few places on the Australian eastern seaboard where you play golf as close to the beach as you do at Gerringong.
The layout covers undulating, natural terrain between two headlands and, at its lowest point, it runs alongside the back of beautiful Walkers Beach and the views well and truly cover the cost of the green fee alone.
Green fee: $37 (weekdays); $42 (weekends).
With the spectacular Macedon Ranges as a backdrop, this scenic par-72 course lies amongst 150 acres of wildlife reserve, which is also home to a large kangaroo population.
Acclaimed designers Neil Crafter and Paul Mogford submitted a masterplan for the course in 2014 and a number of the recommendations from their report have led to improvements to the course, which is a fun and challenging test.
GLENMORE HERITAGE VALLEY GC
Green fees: $35 (Links course, weekdays), $27 (Valley course), $22 (Original course); $43 (Links course, weekends), $33 (Valley course), $24 (Original course).
Glenmore Heritage Valley offers one of Sydney’s few 27-hole golf courses.
The wide variety of holes caters for golfers of all abilities, which adds to the appeal of a round here. The Links layout (holes 1-18) is the most challenging of the combinations and includes the slightly uphill 589-metre 6th hole being one of the toughest par-5s in Sydney.
Green fees: $34 (weekdays); $38 (weekends).
First-time visitors to this Murray River course will be struck with the high quality of the couch fairways and bentgrass greens.
Howlong has some fun holes but the best of them are left until late in the round with the closing trio – particularly the long par-3 17th – ramping up the excitement.
Marangaroo, Western Australia
Green fees: $30 (weekdays); $35 (weekends).
Marangaroo opened in 1988 and the Murray Dawson-designed layout has since evolved into one of the busiest courses in Perth.
Its popularity can be attributed to Dawson’s interesting design – incorporating many doglegs and some blind tee shots – superb conditioning and the beautiful Aussie bushland setting complete with hordes of kangaroos.
Green fees: $40.
An excellent Dan Souter-designed course on the Fraser Coast featuring a number of memorable holes, with few more exciting than the 120-metre par-3 9th hole.
The tee shot here must be played over the edge of Ululah Lagoon to a green that is perched just above the water line and cut into the side of a hill. It is a long, narrow putting surface where the front pin position is close to being three-clubs shorter than a shot to a back flag.
MOSS VALE GC
Moss Vale, NSW
Green fee: $45.
Located in the picturesque Southern Highlands, Moss Vale Golf Club showcases the region’s best natural assets in a fluid layout that winds up and down hills, traverses an omnipresent creek and on fairways flanked by stunning flora, including pines, elms, eucalypts and claret ash trees.
Green fees: $25 (Tuesday to Friday); $30 (Monday); $45 (Sunday).
Panoramic views and challenging holes are the order of the day at Pacific, considered one of Brisbane’s premier clubs.
It is a well-manicured layout that has been a venue for the Queensland Open three times, when the likes of Greg Norman, Ian Baker Finch and Peter Senior walked its fairways.