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


Lakes Entrance covers a wonderful sandy landscape with high dunes the only thing separating it from the beach and the waters of Bass Strait.

One of the most memorable holes is the 137-metre par-3 15th. A lake between tee and green can be troublesome, as can the bunkers short and long of the wide putting surface. The real test here is getting the club selection correct for the tee shot from an elevated tee into a headwind or crosswind.

Green fee: $35.


Surrounded by scenic forest landscapes and native wildlife, Lang Lang has been described as one of the hidden gems of Victoria’s Gippsland based on its terrific variety of holes and the quality of its playing surfaces. Extended to 18 holes in the early 1960s and designed by former Australian Open champion George Naismith, the par-70 is built on pure sand, making it a well-drained, year-round playable course.

Green fees: $25 (weekdays); $32 (weekends).


Carved from magnificent bushland, Leongatha is ranked the best course in the Victorian Gippsland region.

The par-70 layout covers rolling terrain with fairways flanked by majestic trees, some of which are obviously more than a century old.The topography has given rise to several blind tee shots, while the smallish greens place a premium on accuracy from the fairway.

Green fee: $40.

Leongatha Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James


An attractive and challenging test on the Bellarine Peninsula, Lonsdale rewards straight hitting and shrewd thinking on a rolling, sandy site that touches Lake Victoria in places but mostly uses tight, tree-lined fairways to examine golfers’ games.

Holes 4 to 7 and 13 to 15 offer terrific tests and also give you an extra sense of solitude and serenity while wandering along the course’s outer pockets.

Green fee: $30.


Covering easy-walking terrain, Phillip Island is a much underrated course.

All the fairways were converted to Santa Ana couch grass several years ago and, today, they are finely manicured playing surfaces.

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 292-metre par-4 13th hole, which add to the fun of playing a round here.

Green fees: $40 (except for weekends February – April and December 26th – January 31st).


Portarlington is a much under-rated gem in regional Victorian golf.

The layout is solid and well-designed for a course split by a road, and the often dead-straight fairways offer more variety and intrigue through mature tree lines and definite entry angles into the greens that give the straight holes more character than is apparent at first glance.

The fine condition of the couch grass fairways plus the imposing bunkers make this layout a little slice of the Sandbelt on the Bellarine Peninsula.

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


This genius links design on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast used to be a hidden golfing treasure … not anymore.

Now that Port Fairy is ranked the No.34 Public Access Course in Australia, it has become a ‘bucket list’ layout for many travelling golfers.

Golf Australia Architecture Editor Mike Clayton, who has advised the club on course design for several years, says a round at Port Fairy “is one of the best value for money rounds in the world.”

The stunning ocean views, coupled with the excellent design, raises Port Fairy’s stocks. The run of holes from the 12th to 16th is nothing short of impeccable and great fun.

In fact, one round at Port Fairy is never going to be enough.

Green fee: $40.

Port Fairy Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James.


The 6,300-metre par-72 Forest Resort course is the first design collaboration between Tony Cashmore (Thirteenth Beach and The Dunes) and PGA Tour player Robert Allenby.

Opened for play in 2008, the design team came up with a creation that is challenging for both novices as well as professionals, which was seen when the course hosted the Victorian PGA Championship a few years ago.

The course follows the natural flow of the hilly landscape and this has heavily influenced the course routing. Where possible, the ridges, swales, spurs and landmark trees covering the layout have been used to create standout individual holes.

Green fees: $40 (weekdays); $50 (weekends).

Forest Resort. PHOTO: Brendan James.


Sandringham has long been regarded as the Melbourne Sandbelt’s best public access layout.

It covers gentle rolling land making it is an easy-walking round but it is the quality of the design and the layout’s recent improved presentation that elevate this par-70 to its high standing.

Given its location in the heart of the Sandbelt, just across the road from Royal Melbourne, it’s hardly surprising it offers many of the on-course qualities of its private club neighbours, at a fraction of the cost.

Green fees: $37.50 (weekdays); $39 (weekends).


The home of former PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle, Shepparton was designed by Sam Berriman, who was also responsible for creating highly rated courses like Cranbourne and Horsham.

The routing covers very good golfing terrain with the front nine weaving across the most interesting land and giving rise to a terrific stretch of four holes from the short par-4 6th to the par-5 9th holes. The short par-4 6th is a definite highlight. A blind tee shot presents and the best drive here is to the right half of the fairway to leave an unobscured view to
the green.

Green fee: $33.  

Shepparton Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James


Former PGA Tour player and Australian Open champion Craig Parry joined the club as a
10-year-old and returned a few years ago to oversee the design of the club’s present course at Mt Derrimut.

With views toward Melbourne’s CBD, Sunshine is a suburban oasis of nicely maintained Santa Ana fairways weaving between lakes and bunkers across easy-walking rolling topography.

Green fees: $35 (weekdays); $45 (weekends).


A great trivia question for your next ‘golf’ dinner party; What Australian course was the scene of back-to-back Tour victories by Greg Norman in 1978-79?

It was indeed Traralgon GC, in the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland about 160km east of Melbourne, when the layout was a regular stop for the PGA Tour of Australia.

A course of similar standard in a capital city would easily charge more than double the meagre green fee asked here. Nice undulating terrain and well-manicured playing surfaces are of a much higher standard than its $30 green fee might suggest.

Green fee: $30.

Traralgon Golf Club. PHOTO: Brendan James.


The hidden gem of Victoria’s Goldfields region, Trentham is a heavily tree-lined course fully redesigned by Kevin Hartley in the 1990s.

Lush playing surfaces are flanked by tall stands of mature native trees, while the terrain varies from relatively flat to undulating,    creating a superb mix of holes. The pick of the holes are on the back nine with the short downhill par-3 15th marking the start of an impressive quartet of holes leading back to the clubhouse.

Green fee: $30.


Set in and around the sand dune land so common on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast, the course is enjoyable for golfers of all abilities, but straight hitters will score well here as most of the fairways are lined with ti-tree or thick rough.

Some of that ti-tree has been cleared to expose sandy wasteland on some of its best holes, which can be found midway through the front nine. The holes near the clubhouse are good rather than great, but the stretch of par-4s from the 3rd to 6th is worth the green fee alone.

It is also a course where the player who can play a variety of shots in windy conditions, while also trying to work the ball in close to flags tucked behind bunkers, will excel.

Green fee: $45.

Warrnambool Golf Club. PHOTO: Supplied.


Created by Pacific Coast Design’s Phil Ryan, Waterford Valley opened in 2006 and has been a golfing success story in the heart of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Stretched to more than 6,500 metres from the back markers, Ryan has punctuated the wide Santa Ana fairways with lots of bunkers – 63 to be exact – as well as 11 lakes across the layout.

Green fees: $45 (weekdays); $50 (weekends).


With views over the Yarra River and CBD, Yarra Bend is one of Melbourne’s premier inner-city golf courses.

Recent investments have turned it into a golfing ‘Super Centre’, and it now features state-of-the-art practice facilities and a mini golf course.

The course itself has also been redesigned and offers a far more interesting and enjoyable round than it did only a few years ago.

Green fees: $38.50 (weekdays); $43.50 (weekends).