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.
PHILLIP ISLAND GC
Green fee: $45.
Covering easy-walking sand-based terrain, Phillip Island is a much underrated course.
It’s not a long course and, as a result, it features some terrific short holes like the 320-metre par-4 8th and the almost-driveable 292-metre par-4 13th hole, which add to the fun of playing a round here.
PORT KEMBLA GC
Green fee: $38 (weekdays); $43 (weekends).
Port Kembla’s lush, easy walking fairways are bordered by a combination of gums and melaleucas and punctuated by dozens of fairway bunkers, making this layout a ball-striker’s paradise. One of the finest swingers Australia has ever produced – 1995 US PGA Champion Steve Elkington – fine-tuned his game here as a teenager and he remains a patron of the club.
Green fees: $37 (weekdays); $42 (weekends).
Redcliffe boasts the characteristics of a sand belt coastal strip with the river estuary outlook across Hayes Inlet.
The high standard of presentation is complemented by interesting holes, many of which have been redesigned in the past decade as part of a club masterplan. A round here is interesting and fun in a beautiful setting.
REDLAND BAY GC
Redland Bay, Queensland
Green fees: $35 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).
Located on the Moreton Bay foreshore, Redland Bay is an easy-walking layout that offers fresh sea breezes and superb ocean views. A round here can feel like you’re a thousand miles away.
Well-manicured Bermuda 328 greens and gently undulating fairways are a highlight, as is the native bushland lining the fairways that is home to a colony of koalas and native birdlife.
SANCTUARY GOLF RESORT
Bunbury, Western Australia
Green fees: $45.
Designed by Michael Coate and opened for play in 1994, the fairways at Sanctuary Resort are home to more than 60 bunkers as they wind around seven large man-made lakes.
The most enjoyable holes are on the back nine where you seem to face a water carry or have water intruding into the playing line on most holes but they can easily be avoided, which is a credit to Coates’ design.
SANDY CREEK GC
Sandy Creek, South Australia
Green fees: $40 (weekdays); $45 (Sunday); $50 (Saturday).
Sandy Creek is laid out across terrain that varies from dramatic to relatively flat, right on the doorstep of the world-famous Barossa Valley wine region.
Some of the steep slopes have been creatively used to form some memorable holes, with the downhill par-3 13th being a fine example. The huge green sits well below the tee and is guarded by four bunkers – three right and another to the left – while a steep drop-off at the back of the putting surface feeds balls into the nearby rough. If distracted by the Barossa Valley view, this diminutive hole can cause some scorecard pain.
Green fee: $33.
Built on the sand hills near the banks of the Goulburn River, Shepparton’s fairways pitch and roll between tall stands of gums and other native trees.
The green complexes are well bunkered and the varying shapes and angles of them demand accuracy for good scoring. This might explain the ball-striking quality of Shepparton’s finest golfing product, the late and much-loved Jarrod Lyle.
SOUTH WEST ROCKS GC
South West Rocks, NSW
Green fee: $30.
South West Rocks boasts a picturesque layout worthy of any player. Whether you’re off 4 or 24 you will enjoy the well designed and interesting layout.
Most of the holes are straightforward, however accuracy off the tee is rewarded as the tree-lines can make an escape to the green difficult. The course offers a good variety of holes, for example, the 15th (Fred’s Hole) is a 383-metre par-4 with a water carry for your second (or third) shot. The bentgrass greens are in fantastic shape all year round, as are the fairways. It truly is a beautiful course to play.
Hallidays Point, NSW
Green fee: $35.
A short drive from the beaches of Forster on the NSW mid-north coast, Tallwoods is the only layout designed in Australia by award-winning American course architect Dr Michael Hurdzan.
Dr Hurdzan cleverly utilised the undulating topography to create a course that traverses rugged terrain with severe elevation changes. Several green complexes sit in amphitheatres, buried in the hillside beneath residential sites.
It is a beautiful setting for golf, which features a mix of high canopy majestic eucalypts including tallowoods, blackbutt, ironbark, yellow gums and red gums.
THURGOONA CC RESORT
Green fee: $32 (weekdays); $36 (weekends).
Thurgoona is one of the most improved courses along the entire length of the Murray River, which has led to the course becoming home to the NSW Senior Open.
Thurgoona was designed by Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge long before they created more famous courses throughout Australia, which, from the design alone, puts Thurgoona in a very good stable.
Sunlands, South Australia
Green fees: $40.
Located in rolling citrus grove-covered sand hills about 10km west of the township, Waikerie is a fabulous course that punches well above its weight division in terms of enjoyment and conditioning.
It is laid out on gently undulating land between thousands of box trees and some mallee scrub. And you can leave your sand wedge at home because this layout does not have any bunkers.
The interesting and well-groomed green complexes and their surrounds more than make-up for the absence of bunkers at Waikerie.
Obviously, the money saved on ongoing bunker maintenance has been spent wisely on irrigation and producing immaculate playing surfaces.
Wembley Downs, Western Australia
Green fees: $35 (weekdays, online); $42 (weekends, online). $38 (weekdays); $45 (weekends).
Wembley is the biggest and busiest public golf complex in Perth.
The Tuart, and the neighbouring Old course, are laid out over 300 acres of undulating land and both layouts feature heavily tree-lined fairways, very good bentgrass greens and a minimal number of bunkers.