The postcard-like seaside town of Anglesea lies at the heart of one of the most popular holiday destinations in Victoria. Such a location – at the eastern end of the Great Ocean Road – needs attractions and the Anglesea GC course is one of those.

The Vern Morcom-designed layout features eucalyptus tree-lined fairways and Melbourne Sand-belt style bunkering. Not large in number, the bunkers have been strategically positioned around the layout to add to the challenge of the holes across the undulating landscape.

Green fees: $50 (18 holes, daylight savings times), $45 (non-daylight savings times).


Beautifully maintained couch fairways and some of the best greens in all of Gippsland make Bairnsdale GC a must for any golfer visiting the area. Add to that a successfully completed program of bunker renovation and you have a terrific layout that doesn’t receive the plaudits it probably should.

The two par-4s leading away from the clubhouse ease you into the round, before the first significant challenge presents on the 491-metre par-5 3rd hole. There is
out-of-bounds well off to the right of the fairway, which will only hinder wild hitters. Of more concern are the fairway bunkers – one on the right of the driving zone and another on the left of the popular lay-up distance from the green. Avoid the pitfalls en route here and you can have a good shot at an early birdie.

Green fee: $35.

Bairnsdale Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James


It took nearly 110 years for Ballarat GC to establish itself as one of the country’s best public access courses.

Within 18 months of an extensive redesign by Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett, Ballarat debuted in Golf Australia as the No.54 ranked Public Access course in the nation, a
far cry from the basic course that was first played in 1895.

One of the highlights of a round at Ballarat is the quality of its short par-4s. The 3rd and 4th holes are a great example. While each measures 319 metres from the back tips, they require a completely different strategy from the tee and fairway.

Green fees: $30 (weekdays); $40 (weekends).

Ballarat Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James


Occupying dramatic terrain near Rosebud on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Bay
Views – as the name suggests –offers golfers spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the bay beaches all the way to Sorrento.

Vern Morcom was the original designer and his routing extracts the best out of the landscape. It’s nearly 20 years since Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge and Ross Perrett did a full refurbishment of the course, with the pick of the holes to be found on the back nine. The long steep downhill par-3 11th and the sweeping dogleg par-4s - the 13th and 14th - are the real the standouts … for golf and the views.

The layout’s presentation has been on the rise since August 2014, when Golf Services Management, which manages St Andrews Beach and Ranfurlie among others, took over the running of Bay Views and its maintenance.

Green fee: $39.

Bay Views Golf Course. PHOTO: Brendan James


Berwick Montuna is a picturesque par-69 on Melbourne’s south-eastern outskirts that measures a tick over 5,000 metres from the back markers.

The highlight of the round opens the back nine with the 354-metre par-4 10th. Regarded as one of the hardest holes in Melbourne, the dogleg left features a lake cutting into the fairway that prompts some thought from the
tee – either lay up short of the water and leave a long approach into the green, or play aggressively and aim for the sliver of fairway leading to the green. Mounding short of the green make it difficult to judge the distance into the flag.

Green fees: $30 (weekdays); $35 (weekends).


The newest golf course to be found along the entire length of the Murray River, the Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett-designed Black Bull made its ranking debut earlier this year, picking up the No.57 spot in Australia’s Top-100 Public Access Courses list.

One of the course’s main attractions is a trio of very challenging holes known as the ‘Bull Ring’, which reflects the course’s name and the site’s origins (it was formerly an Angus cattle farm). Taking in the 4th to 6th holes, the threesome includes a 179-metre par-3 before two par-4s with the capacity to ruin a good round thanks to the unmissable presence of a chain of small lakes. A good, fun course where the challenge never seems to let up.

Green fee: $45.

Black Bull Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James


This Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett-designed layout only officially opened for play in 2014, but in three years it has managed to elbow its way into the upper echelon of Public Access Courses in this country.

The par-72 debuted at No.93 in this magazine’s Top-100 ranking earlier this year and for good reason. Thomson and Perrett managed to create a links-style layout out of grazing land in what is still predominantly a rural environment on the edge of a new residential development.

Surprisingly, given its location 40 minutes’ drive north of Melbourne, wind is a factor at Mandalay. The exposed nature of the holes, combined with the wind, makes correct club and shot selection one of the utmost challenges of a round at Mandalay.

Green fees: $38 (midweek); $45 (weekends). Cheaper fees booking online.

Club Mandalay. PHOTO: Brendan James


Gisborne is regarded as the best course in the Mt Macedon Ranges region, about 40 minutes’ drive north west of Melbourne’s CBD. It has ranked among the nation’s Top 100 Public Access Courses and always presents well.

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 further improvements to the course.

Green fees: $35 (weekdays); $40 (weekend).


There’s plenty more to this course than just a great name.

Located about 30 minutes’ drive north of Melbourne near Yan Yean, the Graham Marsh-designed Growling Frog has won acclaim from this magazine several times during the past six years with a spot in Australia’s Top-100 Public Access Courses ranking. Its rise into the top echelon of public access courses comes on the back of Marsh’s design and the high standard of presentation year round.

One of the keys to Growling Frog’s conditioning was the creation of a dedicated recycled water supply, which ensured the course would be immune to drought and the playing surfaces could be maintained at the highest standard year round. The bentgrass greens are outstanding and are matched for quality by the Santa Ana couch fairways that complement Marsh’s design, which ranks among one of his best Australian creations.

Aside from the fine collection of good par-4s and par-5s as well as deceptive par-3s, the Australian bushland setting is memorable and includes more than 260 mature River Red Gum trees, some of which date back 300 years.

Green fees: $40 (weekdays); $45 (weekends).  

Growling Frog Golf Course. PHOTO: Brendan James