So here it is. The culmination of two year’s work to comb the country and come up with the list of Australia’s Top-100 Courses.
I am sure you won’t agree with the positioning of all the courses in the list that follows. The exercise of ranking golf courses is not an exact science but based on the various points of our criteria, I think our judging panel has contributed to a list that won’t let you down if you let it guide you to the layouts where you will have the most fun.
Written by readers and golfers themselves, this Top-100 list recommends the best courses for our fellow golfers to play; where you will have the most memorable golfing experiences. That’s what we think is the most important aspect of this ranking – great golf, great memories.
This Top 100 list has been compiled by a panel of 25 judges, each with their own ideas of what makes a good golf course. It is a subjective exercise, so the end result will always raise some debate.
Therefore, you won’t find the word ‘definitive’ used here, as that would be arrogant nonsense. What you will find is a thorough and transparent ranking of the best courses to be found throughout the nation.
It has been a thorough process that began in late 2015 with judges being selected and notified as well as courses being visited around the country, sometimes covertly.
The common thread between all of our passionate golfing judges is that they see a lot of courses during our two-year rolling ranking period.
The criterion used by each judge places greater emphasis on a course’s design and less on its conditioning. While a layout’s general presentation remains important, we felt it was unfair to place too much weight on this element for two main reasons. A judge might happen to visit a course at a time of year when the conditioning is not at its best. Less emphasis on conditioning also addresses the problem of courses being elevated beyond their true rank based on immaculate conditioning courtesy of a huge budget, rather than its overall design and conditioning qualities.
Judges work through their thoughts on design (60 percent of their working guideline), condition (20 percent) and visual appeal (20 percent) and then submit their ranking list of courses. The scores are then tallied and average score across the voting judges is attributed to each course.
This year there were several courses not considered for the ranking. We have an ongoing request from the management of Capital Golf Club, in Melbourne, not to be ranked.
A similar request not to be considered for ranking was received by the recently opened Greg Norman-designed Cathedral Lodge. Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to see where this Victorian gem enters the ranking for our January 2020 edition.
Several courses were not ranked because of major ongoing redevelopment work, which was still ongoing when voting closed. They include Peninsula Kingswood CC South and North Courses and Sydney’s Concord Golf Club, which is undergoing a Tom Doak redesign.
This year’s ranking sees several layouts making their debut. The Greg Norman-designed Eastern Golf Club has two courses, the North and South Courses, while the completely redesigned Westbourne Course at Royal Canberra re-enters the Top-100 after officially reopening in early 2017.
King Island’s Ocean Dunes course missed appearing in our 2016 ranking by just a few months. It appears in our list for the first time and has made a big impact on the top-10 of this ranking.
With our Top-100 Courses ranking completed for another year it’s time to start planning the next, with the aforementioned absent courses at the top of our judge’s lists to look at.
100. THE FEDERAL GC
Average points: 36.89 2016 rank: NR.
Designer: Prosper Ellis (1967)
Judge’s Comments: “Since converting its fairways to the hardier Santa Ana couch and addressing some of its water issues, Federal has improved year-in, year-out. Given its location so close to the centre of Canberra, a round at Federal feels like a country escape with beautiful bushland surrounds with great views across to the Brindabella Ranges.” – Brendan James.
99. ROYAL PERTH GC
Average points: 37 2016 rank: 88.
Designer: Club members (1908); David Anderson (1930); Terry Gale (1988 and ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Despite averaging similar points from our judges than it did in 2014 and 2016, Royal Perth has suffered a drop in this ranking, which is indicative of the congestion
of courses in the second half of this list. Cannot
be faulted for year-round high quality presentation.” – Brendan James.
98. ROYAL HOBART GC
Average points: 37.67 2016 rank: NR.
Designers: Vern Morcom (1963); Richard Chamberlain (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “I was pleasantly surprised at how good Royal Hobart was. There are still issues with bits of the routing but it was in great condition and there is lots of interesting movement in the fairways. Best of all they are addressing tree encroachment and have started to open the course up and get a bit of width back.” – Brian Walshe.
97. INDOOROOPILLY GC (West course)
Average points: 38 2016 rank: 98.
Designer: Ross Watson (1985 & 2008).
Judge’s Comments: “The West course at Indooroopilly probably deserves to have climbed more than one spot and with two more points on board it would have. The ongoing agronomy works around the greens have bedded well and have easily added to the enjoyment of playing this layout.” – Brendan James.
96. TWIN WATERS GC
Average points: 38.15 2016 rank: 93.
Designer: Peter Thomson, Michael Wolveridge
& Ross Perrett (1991).
Judge’s Comments: “Twin Waters offers generous fairways and equally receptive putting surfaces. Always in very good condition but I have to wonder why there are strips of greenside ‘rough’ on the upslopes approaching greens like the par-3 11th and the par-5 18th. Surely these only hamper the shorter hitter who tries to run their shots onto the putting surface.” – Brendan James.
95. YARRAWONGA-MULWALA GC (Murray course)
Average points: 38.75 2016 rank: 92.
Designers: Peter Thomson & Michael Wolveridge (1991).
Judge’s Comments: “The Murray course has been improving year-on-year for most of the past decade. Considering it’s one of the busiest public access courses in Australia, the quality of the playing surfaces should be the envy of any private city club.” – Joe Thomas.
“Always enjoy playing the Murray Course. The tall stands of gums that line most of the fairways provide a theatre for golf that is very Australian and typical of golf on the mighty Murray.” – Lucas Andrews.
94. MANLY GC
Average points: 39.66 2016 rank: 76.
Designers: Peter Thomson & Ross Perrett (2012).
Judge’s Comments: “Five years on from the redevelopment of the layout, the playing surfaces have matured nicely and are consistently very good. The redesign has addressed all of the drainage issues that previously afflicted the course but there are some holes, like the back-to-back par-5s at the 2nd and 3rd, which are devoid of any risk-and-reward strategy and demand a lay-up from the tee to avoid a water hazard cutting the fairway in two.” – Brendan James.
93. TWIN CREEKS G&CC
Average points: 40 2016 rank: 97.
Designer: Graham Marsh (2006).
Judge’s Comments: “Twin Creeks has reclaimed some of its lustre during the past two years after going to a ranking free fall in the handful of years before when conditioning was a real issue. The level of presentation has improved markedly and this has enhanced the Graham Marsh design.” – Alex Chapman.
92. THE BRISBANE GC
Average points: 41.15 2016 rank: 95.
Designers: Carnegie Clark (1904); Ross Watson (2007 & ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “The conversion of all the putting surfaces to Champion Ultra Dwarf – the first Australian course to do so – has done wonders for this layout.” – Lucas Andrews.
“The relatively new ‘Champion’ greens are a delight to putt on and are only getting better.” – Peter Martin.
“Not a tough course but enjoyable for golfers of all abilities. If you possess a good short game you’ll love this layout.” – Brendan James.
91. RIVERSDALE GC
Average points: 41.25 2016 rank: 91.
Designer: Alex Russell (1930); Neil Crafter & Paul Mogford (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “I really like the variety of different holes, played in different directions across good rolling terrain. The presentation of the layout has been impressive each time I have been there.” – Joe Thomas.
“I’d really like to see something done to the short par-4s, like the 10th and 18th, to offer a little more strategy. Both are under 300 metres and little more than a long iron and pitch for a par. I’d love to be tempted to have a go at both greens.” – Brendan James.
90. ROYAL FREMANTLE GC
Average points: 41.67 2016 rank: 83.
Designer: Arthur Oliphant & Peter Anderson (1906); Michael Coate (2004), Richard Chamberlain (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “For a course that is not overly long, Royal Fremantle presents plenty of challenges. The undulating terrain provides the platform for a significant number of interesting holes like the long uphill par-4 7th hole, which can be a brute. The par-4 15th is arguably the most memorable of the back nine holes.” – Brendan James.
“There have been some subtle design improvements here over the past few years,
which have been good. A constant here is the good quality kikuyu fairways and bentgrass greens.” – Lucas Andrews.
89. SANCTUARY COVE (Palms course)
Average points: 44.25 2016 rank: 75.
Designer: Ross Watson (2011).
Judge’s Comments: “The Ross Watson design here is a far better offering than the previous Fred Bolton layout. There are a greater variety of holes, more dynamic bunkering and more undulating greens, which certainly makes it more interesting to play.” – Brendan James.
“My last round of the Palms left me thinking the previous high standard of conditioning had dropped off slightly.” – Scott Neilsen.
Average points: 44.63 2016 rank: 77.
Designer: Graham Marsh (2008).
Judge’s Comments: “At a tick over 6,500 metres from the back pegs, Eynesbury is one of the longest layouts in the country. Even though I play off single figures I would never consider playing from the tips, although all the trouble would certainly be out of range. Playing forward, the wide fairways and big greens all feature plenty of bunkering that are best avoided.” – Joe Thomas.
“I liked every hole at Eynesbury until I reached the par-4 18th where I was forced to lay-up from the tee to avoid hitting into a creek that I would have had to hit a career shot to carry. Not a great hole for the ladies.” – Jacqui Lee.
87. NAROOMA GC
Average points: 44.75 2016 rank: 90.
Designer: John Spencer (1980).
Judge’s Comments: “I can’t think of any other course in Australia that makes the quantum leap from links to undulating parkland and back as successfully as Narooma. The ocean side holes are unforgettable and Spencer’s routing of inland holes across dramatic terrain ensure this layout will be on my ‘must play’ list for some time to come.” – Brendan James.
86. SORRENTO GC
Average points: 45.25 2016 rank: 79.
Designer: Members (1908); J.D Scott (1929); Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge & Ross
Perrett; Neil Crafter & Paul Mogford (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Sorrento’s standard of presentation can never be questioned. The course has some of the best playing surfaces to be found on the Mornington Peninsula.” – Brendan James.
“There were some really nice shorter holes, but even some of the longer ones required good strategic play.”– Carl Murphy.
“Great presentation, and some terrific holes laid across rolling terrain. My only criticism would be some of the mounding and swales don’t really fit the landscape.” – James King.
85. COTTESLOE GC
Average points: 46.13 2016 rank: 74.
Designer: David Anderson (1931); Graham Marsh (1998 and ongoing).
Judge’s Comments:“Graham Marsh’s changes here over the past two decades have extracted the best possible golf out of a small parcel of land. The playing surfaces are among the best in Perth.” – Joe Thomas.
“Like many courses in the bottom half of the Top-100 ranking, Cottesloe actually averaged more points per judge than it did in 2016 but dropped places in this ranking. This is indicative of the close nature of the voting rather than any decline in the layout.” – Brendan James.
84. WARRNAMBOOL GC
Average points: 47.25 2016 rank: 89.
Designer: George Lowe Jnr. (1928); Peter Thomson & Ross Perrett (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “The program of clearing vegetation to expose sandy wasteland midway through the front nine has turned these offerings into great holes. They are now visually more appealing and they ask questions of your strategy on the tee. I expect Warrnambool will continue to rise in the ranking as more subtle changes are made.” – Brendan James.
83. MURRAY DOWNS G&CC
Average points: 47.95 2016 rank: 85.
Designer: Ted & Geoff Parslow (1988 & 2009).
Judge’s Comments: “For a regional course I was extremely impressed with the layout and conditioning. The fairways were wide and forgiving, and the greens receptive. Though, I
felt the strategy of the design was forgotten at times.” – Carl Murphy.
“One of the best manicured layouts to be found in regional Australia. There are some memorable holes – the 4th, 5th, 11th, 16th and 17th – that are among the best to be played anywhere along the Murray River.” – Joe Thomas.
82. LAKELANDS GC
Average points: 48.67 2016 rank: 73.
Designer: Jack Nicklaus (1997).
Judge’s Comments: “Whenever I head to the Gold Coast to play golf I have Lakelands on my list. Nicklaus’ design is certainly a challenge but I love the immaculate fairways and greens. Lakelands has some of the best Bermuda greens in the country.” – Scott Nielsen.
81. ST MICHAELS GC
Average points: 49.25 2016 rank: 69.
Designer: Michael Moran & C.W Cole (1938).
Judge’s Comments: “Reconstruction work on several greens as well as other redesign work has been undertaken during past year and once they are bedded in St Michaels will be better for those changes.” – Brendan James.
“The best holes here for mine is the sequence of holes starting at the par-3 12th through to the uphill par-5 17th. They cover superb natural terrain and have always been worth the cost of the green fee alone.” – Joe Thomas.
80. TASMANIA GC
Average points: 49.75 2016 rank: 80.
Designer: Al Howard (1972).
Judge’s Comments: “You can’t help but enjoy Tasmania’s variety of short, fun holes mixed with lengthier examinations that challenge all players.” – James King.
“Wonderful golfing terrain with no better than the par-5 3rd hole, which ranks as one of the best three-shotters in the country. Would be even better if they cleared even more trees from the water line to the left of the fairway to expose more of the hole from the tee.” – Brendan James.
79. THE VINES RESORT & CC (Lakes course)
Average points: 49.78 2016 rank: 65.
Designer: Graham Marsh & Ross Watson (1989).
Judge’s Comments: “The Lakes course, especially the back nine, is fun and challenging. I always love the closing trio of holes where you can birdie home or rack up a high number. While the fairways are good, I thought the presentation the green surrounds and bunkers was not what it once was.” – Lucas Andrews.
78. BLACK BULL
Average points: 50.85 2016 rank: 82.
Designer: Peter Thomson & Ross Perrett (2015).
Judge’s Comments: “Black Bull only made its debut in this ranking in 2016 and has swum against the tide to improve its position over the past two years. Beautifully conditioned playing surfaces coupled with interesting strategic holes make a round here a memorable experience.” – Brendan James.
77. THE GLADES
Average points: 51 2016 rank: 62.
Designer: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “I have always loved the design of The Glades. It’s visually appealing
from the tee and the brash, bold bunkering intimidates and makes you second-guess shot
and club selection. Unfortunately there is more reason than ever not to go in the sand as the presentation of the bunkers wasn’t good on the two occasions I played the course in the past 12 months.” – Lucas Andrews.
76. PACIFIC DUNES
Average points: 51.83 2016 rank: 71.
Designer: James Wilcher (2005).
Judge’s Comments: “Terrific diversity of holes with the ring of holes from the 1st to the 5th calling on a wide variety of shots. Not a fan of the forced lay-up from the tee on the par-5 11th hole or the new cart path creeping out close to the playing line in front of the 16th green. In terms of conditioning, the consistently high standard reached a few years back has been maintained.” – Brendan James.
75. SUN CITY CC
Average points: 52.25 2016 rank: 84.
Designer: Murray Dawson & Bob Green (1974); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead (2012 & ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “Sun City continues to climb in this ranking on the back of the Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM) redevelopment. Nine holes of the course – 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 – have been redone and they are the standout holes of the layout. The closer Sun City moves to completing all 18 holes the higher it will rise in this list.” – James King.
74. RACV ROYAL PINES RESORT (Green/Gold Course)
Average points: 52.33 2016 rank: Debut.
Designer: Graham Marsh (2015).
Judge’s Comments: “The complete reconstruction of the Australian PGA Championship host course created a layout that features bigger, more undulating greens, as well as dynamic bunkering and when set-up to be firm under foot it creates a difficult challenge for the pros. For the average golfer, it’s also a much tougher test, particularly on the greens. However, it is far more enjoyable to play than the previous incarnation.” – Brendan James.
73. PACIFIC HARBOUR G&CC
Average points: 53.14 2016 rank: 70.
Designer: Ross Watson (2006).
Judge’s Comments: “There’s no doubting it, Pacific Harbour is a tough layout to master, especially when the wind is blowing. But if you choose your tee wisely, you can better appreciate the strategy by approaching the greens from a length intended by the designer.” – Scott Nielsen.
“I have always enjoyed playing at Pacific Harbour but some greens are losing the fun elements of their design due to couch encroachment issues.” – Brendan James.
72. SANCTUARY COVE (Pines course)
Average points: 53.85 2016 rank: 72.
Designer: Arnold Palmer & Ed Seay (1989).
Judge’s Comments: “The Pines is consistently presented in great shape, which you would expect from a private member’s layout. I agree with some other judges who believe widening the mowing lines in several holes would offer a more strategic golfing experience.” – Brendan James.
71. JOONDALUP RESORT (Quarry/Lake course)
Average points: 54.25 2016 rank: Debut.
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jnr (1985).
Judge’s Comments: “Another of Australia’s spectacular inland courses where the unique nature of the design routed around the edges of what was a limestone quarry makes it such a memorable experience. The Lake nine provides a completely different experience
to the jaw-dropping Quarry nine but is just as fun.” – Brendan James.
70. LINKS LADY BAY RESORT
Average points: 54.33 2016 rank: 81.
Designer: Jack Newton, Graeme Grant & John Spencer (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “For years I felt Links Lady Bay was never quite reaching its potential. It seemed to be too rough around the edges. My last two visits in recent months revealed a layout that is in its best condition ever. The putting surfaces have always been very good but now the tees, fairways and bunkers are beautifully presented and fully complement the interesting and enjoyable design.” – Brendan James.
69. RANFURLIE GC
Average points: 55.95 2016 rank: 60.
Designer: Mike Clayton (2002).
Judge’s Comments: “Strategically there is plenty to like about Ranfurlie. Wide avenues from tee to green can hide the ‘narrow’ playing lines you need to find depending on the flag of the day. The presentation can, unfortunately, be a little inconsistent but has generally improved across the board in recent years.” – Lucas Andrews.
68. CURLEWIS GC
Average points: 56 2016 rank: 78.
Designer: Vern Morcom (1947); Mike Clayton (2009 & ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “The ongoing tweaks to various aspects of the course are obviously
well considered and continue to improve the golfing experience at Curlewis. The clearing of scrub, like the massive clump left of the approach into the 1st green, and the renovation of some of the bunkering simply enhance what is already a very good course.” – Brendan James.
“I first discovered this layout after the 2016 Top-100 was published and have since returned for two more rounds. Yes, there are some weak holes but on the whole, playing Curlewis equates to having a fun round, which is a great measure of a course.” – Joe Thomas.
67. THE EASTERN GC (North Course)
Average points: 56.85 2016 rank: Debut.
Judge’s Comments: “The holes from 10 to 27 of the North Course bring some of the flatter land on the property into play. But there is still a reasonable mix of enjoyable holes, where each hole offers a different challenge.” – Carl Murphy.
66. KALGOORLIE GC
Average points: 57 2016 rank: 68.
Designer: Graham Marsh (2010).
Judge’s Comments: “A course that really is underrated in this country. Being so isolated this really will struggle to gain the recognition it deserves. This is one of Graham Marsh’s best designs, with the fairways of each hole giving the appearance of green carpet being rolled out over the red desert. The trio of holes, starting from the tee shot at the 6th, is memorable.” – Carl Murphy.
“Vivid colours abound from the blue skies and green fairways, to the ochre sand in the rough. Can’t think of a more Australian setting for golf than a round at Kalgoorlie.” – Scott Nielsen.
65. MT LAWLEY GC
Average points: 58.15 2016 rank: 63.
Designer: David Anderson & James Tinlin (1928); Michael Coate (2004); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “There appeared to be a significant drop off in presentation a couple of years back but that seems to have been addressed in recent times.” – Lucas Andrews.
“The terrain and routing suggest it could be a course ranked much higher on this list. It will be interesting to see the masterplan from OCCM take shape over the coming years with areas cleared to expose the natural sandy ground underneath, while greens and bunkers will be rebuilt to create the need for more strategic play.” – Brendan James.
64. CRANBOURNE GC
Average points: 58.15 2016 rank: 64.
Designer: Sam Berriman (1954); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead
– OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Undoubtedly one of the most underrated courses in Melbourne. The subtle design changes made there over recent years have all worked well, while the conditioning is always of a very high standard.” – James King.
“I always reckon if you can vividly recall a dozen or more holes on a course days or weeks after you have played there then it’s a pretty good course … Cranbourne offers such memories.” – Brendan James.
63. SETTLERS RUN G&CC
Average points: 59.67 2016 rank: 61.
Designer: Greg Norman, Bob Harrison & Harley Kruse (2007).
Judge’s Comments: “The layout covers very good golfing terrain, with its best holes laid over the changing topography. The stretch of holes from the par-4 3rd to the dogleg par-4 7th, might just be the best on the course as they offer a real taste of Melbourne Sandbelt golf.” – Brendan James.
“The bunkering at Settlers Run is typical of the Greg Norman design team and is one of the memorable aspects of a round here.” – Lucas Andrews.
62. SANCTUARY LAKES CLUB
Average points: 60.15 2016 rank: 67.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “Sanctuary Lakes has gone from strength-to-strength since the members took over the club a few years back. The year-round presentation is now as memorable as the design from Norman and Harrison. I can’t help but think Sanctuary Lakes will continue to rise in this ranking.” – Brendan James.
“Norman and Harrison designed courses are renowned for offering a tantalising number of good driving holes in a round and Sanctuary Lakes (pictured above) is no different. I love the fact I can take driver on every par-4 and par-5 if I want to be aggressive or I can lay back with an iron and perhaps get the same result.” – Joe Thomas.
61. AVONDALE GC
Average points: 60.33 2016 rank: 56.
Designers: Eric Apperly (1927); Ross Watson (2008).
Judge’s Comments: “Set on the edge of a national park, Avondale offers more than a great round of golf … it’s a nature walk. The quintet of holes through the middle of the round – the par-5 7th through to the long par-3 11th – are a definite highlight as they cover interesting terrain and have been enhanced by Ross Watson’s rebuild here nearly a decade ago.” – Brendan James.
60. PELICAN WATERS GC
Average points: 60.95 2016 rank: 58.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “Pelican Waters boasts two of the best short par-4s built in this country in the modern era – the 2nd and the 13th are strategically very good and are worth playing here for the cost of the green fee alone.” – Brendan James.
“Big bold bunkering – like most Norman and Harrison courses built around the same period – is a memorable feature of a round at Pelican Waters. But it is the wide variety of different holes, and the shots they demand you play to make a good score, that I like best.” – Scott Nielsen.
59. THE GRAND GC
Average points: 61.33 2016 rank: 57.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (1997).
“The Grand offers beautifully manicured playing surfaces and an interesting mix of holes, with its collection of par-3s being a standout. It’s a shame more people don’t get to experience this terrific course.” – Alex Chapman.
“A course that punches well above its weight. Well maintained with some very good holes, in particular the 8th and 15th, The Grand offers a bit of everything.” – Carl Murphy.
58. LINKS HOPE ISLAND
Average points: 61.67 2016 rank: 55.
Designers: Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge & Ross Perrett (1997).
Judge’s Comments: “The congestion of courses just inside and outside the top-50 of this ranking has created some up and down movement where fractions of a point have become all important. Hope Island has dropped three spots but few could argue that it’s in terrific condition year round and remains one of the ‘must play’ courses when visiting the Gold Coast.” – Brendan James.
57. RACV HEALESVILLE CC
Average points: 62.8 2016 rank: 50.
Designer: Mike Clayton (2009).
Judge’s Comments: “RACV Healesville is not your average course; par-68 with a length under 5,000 metres. The course possesses many holes of wonderful design. It is a layout focussing primarily upon fun and playability. Healesville is a unique, intelligent design. Despite its modest length, RACV Healesville demands a place in the upper echelon of the nation’s courses.” – Matt Mollica.
56. MOONAH LINKS (Open course)
Average points: 63.95 2016 rank: 66.
Designers: Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge & Ross Perrett (2001).
Judge’s Comments: “It can’t be simply coincidence that the overall presentation of the Open Course, and its neighbour the Legends Course, has improved since the change of ownership. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge the Open Course presents so I was even more pleased to find the conditioning of the playing surfaces had improved markedly from what I found on previous visits.” – James King.
“A great challenge that is best played from the appropriate tee for your ability. If you can adopt a ‘Tiger Woods strategy’, and stay out of the bunkers, you will save plenty of shots during your round.” – Brendan James.
55. THE NATIONAL GC (Ocean course)
Average points: 64.5 2016 rank: 47.
Designers: Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge & Ross Perrett (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “The Ocean course covers amazing golfing land but hasn’t reached its potential … yet. I expect the Tom Doak redesign will have the Ocean Course surging north through this ranking.” – Brendan James.
“Not the most well loved course of The National. It covers some of the best land on
the property and should be the standout course. Looking forward to the redesign by Tom Doak.” – Carl Murphy.
54. RIVERSIDE OAKS (Bungool course)
Average points: 65.72 2016 rank: 54.
Designer: Bob Harrison (2015).
Judge’s Comments: “Well-designed course with plenty of strategic holes with questions asked on the tee. The conditioning was more than reasonable, but I thought some of the mowing lines were a bit tight, bringing thicker rough into play too often. If these lines were widened slightly it would be an excellent course to play.” – Carl Murphy.
53. THIRTEENTH BEACH (Creek course)
Average points: 66.07 2016 rank: 52.
Designers: Tony Cashmore & Sir Nick Faldo (2004); Tony Cashmore (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “The subtle changes made to the Creek Course a few years ago were pretty good and certainly improved the layout. What impresses me most is how the putting surfaces and greenside bunkering, mounds and hollows blend so well and have obviously been crafted with the Melbourne Sandbelt in mind.” – Brendan James.
“This is the most frustrating course I play. There is so much really good stuff particularly on the front nine, which is let down by some silly stuff on the back. Holes 13 and 14 are easily fixed with a chainsaw but 15 and 17 need a little more work for the Creek Course to realise its full potential in my eyes.” – Brian Walshe.
52. HUNTINGDALE GC
Average points: 67.15 2016 rank: 46.
Designer: Charles Alison (1941); Jack Newton, Graeme Grant & John Spencer (1998-2010); Martin Hawtree (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Efforts have been made to clear heavy scrub along the sides of many fairways, exposing sandy areas giving it more of a Sandbelt appearance and feel, which is great.” – Lucas Andrews.
“The native revegetation program has worked well and the removal of some fairway bunkers on the 16th and 18th holes make Huntingdale feel a little more spacious.” – Scott Nielsen.
51. MEADOW SPRINGS G&CC
Average points: 67.2 2016 rank: 59.
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jnr (1993).
Judge’s Comments: “Meadow Springs never ceases to amaze me with its presentation. I have had the privilege of visiting the course many times over the past 20 years and its conditioning never wavers from first class. That said, it has never looked as good as it does at the moment, which is a huge credit to its long-time course superintendent Greg Simmons. The high standard of conditioning brings out the best in Robert Trent Jones Junior’s design.” – Brendan James.
50. THE NATIONAL GC (Long Island course)
Average points: 67.5 2016 rank: 51.
Designers: Gordon Oliver (1938); Vern Morcom (1945).
Judge’s Comments: “Long Island covers wonderful golfing terrain and looks like it will continue to creep higher in this ranking.” – Brendan James.
“Long Island has benefitted from some polish, following its inclusion under The National’s banner. Condition has improved, and more golfers are now familiar with the course’s appeal.” – Matt Mollica.
49. STONECUTTERS RIDGE
Average points: 67.8 2016 rank: 40.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2012).
Judge’s Comments: “While the flat holes of the front nine, from 2 through to 5, are very good, I reckon the first half of the back nine represent the most interesting because of the change in elevation from tee to green. The best of these is the par-4 14th hole where the fun ramps up when you reach the tiered green.” – James King.
“The stretch of holes from the 2nd to the 5th on an open flat section of the property are a highlight, and extremely well thought out.” – Rich Macafee.
48. TERREY HILLS CC
Average points: 68 2016 rank: 45.
Designers: Graham Marsh & Ross Watson (1994).
Judge’s Comments: “The clearing of some large trees surrounding several front nine greens, like the par-4 7th, has improved the quality of the surfaces on those greens. The program of bunker renovation started a few years ago and other minor tweaks to the design have been good.” – Brendan James.
“Routed over undulating land, the Marsh and Watson team created an interesting and challenging course. If I have one criticism though is that the greenside humps and hollows on a few holes can feel a bit artificial. Cannot fault the conditioning though.” – Carl Murphy.
47. THE EASTERN GC (South Course)
Average points: 68.12 2016 rank: Debut.
Judge’s Comments: “Holes 1 to 18 offer the best routing of the 27 holes on the course, with quite a few elevation changes providing its greatest variety of holes. The wide fairways make it great for members, while the strategists will enjoy discovering the correct playing lines for the pin positions of the day.” – Carl Murphy.
“The South Course, for mine, has the pick of the holes and as the course matures I expect it will push for a higher place in this ranking.” – Brendan James.
46. THE CUT GC
Average points: 68.5 2016 rank: 37.
Designer: James Wilcher (2004).
Judge’s Comments: “The Cut is one of the most dramatic in Australia. It has been criticised by many owing to its difficulty, and narrow fairways, especially with strong local winds often acting over the course. However, The Cut’s coastal setting and dramatic rises and falls, as well as the shot-swinging final five holes ensure a continued good ranking.” – Matt Mollica.
45. BONVILLE GOLF RESORT
Average points: 69.67 2016 rank: 53.
Designer: Terry Watson & Ted Stirling (1992).
Judge’s Comments: “Bonville’s program of renovating all the bunkers and raising the consistency of its presentation, which was introduced a few years ago, has the northern NSW course flying these days. It moves up eight places in this ranking (when many courses around it have dropped spots) on the back of a greater overall golfing
experience.” – Brendan James.
“Bonville is such a beautiful place to play that sometimes you can overlook how far you have to drive your cart to get to the next tee. It oozes memorable vistas and these days the condition of the playing surfaces adds to the enjoyment of the round.” – Joe Thomas.
44. HAMILTON ISLAND GC
Average points: 70.3 2016 rank: 44.
Designer: Peter Thomson & Ross Perrett (2009).
Judge’s Comments: “Everything about Hamilton Island is dramatic – the scenery, the holes and, sometimes, the wind. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to build this course but the result is spectacular. The stretch of holes from the par-3 14th through to the clubhouse are unforgettable.” – Brendan James.
“If you’re off your game here you will make some big numbers. But the beauty of the location should take your mind off it.” – Jacqui Lee.
43. PORT FAIRY GC
Average points: 71.67 2016 rank: 48.
Designer: Club members (1963); Kevin Hartley (1989); Mike Clayton (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “Port Fairy continues to climb in the rankings, with sensible vegetation management, even better course conditions, and wider recognition of the qualities and charms of the seaside layout. The changing face of the course in winds of different strength and direction is a source of attraction shared by Port Fairy and many Scottish links.” – Matt Mollica.
“A simple yet brilliant routing set below and in a single dune system next to the Southern Ocean, Port Fairy is a genuine links experience. It’s not a long course but it’s fun, playable by all in all conditions, and the condition suits the course perfectly.” – Rich Macafee.
42. SPRING VALLEY GC
Avg. points: 72.90 2016 rank: 43.
Designers: Vern Morcom (1948); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley
Mead – OCCM (2011 and ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “One of the most underrated Melbourne Sandbelt tracks is now starting to be recognised for its quality. Well-designed strategic holes, and good bunkering, make this a great course to play. The front nine is much stronger in design than the back, but some solid holes really make this a standout.” – Carl Murphy.
“The finishing touches still remain to be applied, but there are moments where Spring Valley is as good and as fun as anything in Melbourne.” – Scott Warren.
41. ROYAL SYDNEY GC
Average points: 74.13 2016 rank: 29.
Designers: Carnegie Clark (1921); Peter Thomson & Mike Wolverdige (1987); Ross Watson (2003).
Judge’s Comments: “The course is always beautifully presented and the bunker renovation completed half a dozen years ago did improve the golf experience. But the course, in particular the greens, needs to be upgraded. I can’t wait to see what Gil Hanse can extract out of this sandy terrain and I hope he is given free reign by the club to do it.” – Brendan James.
40. THE VINTAGE
Average points: 74 2016 rank: 41.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2003).
Judge’s Comments: “There are no bad rounds at The Vintage, just the occasional bad score. Even bad scoring days here are really enjoyable and you can put that down to the golf course. There are plenty of standouts – the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th – are crackers in my opinion, simply because they all offer something different and make the round even more enjoyable.” – Brendan James.
“Interesting, enjoyable design complemented by well-presented playing surfaces. Can’t ask for much more than that.” – Joe Thomas.
39. PORTSEA GC
Average points: 74.67 2016 rank: 36.
Designers: Jock Young (1926); Sloan Morpeth & Jack Howard (1965); Mike Clayton (2000).
Judge’s Comments: “One of the Mornington Peninsula’s classic links style courses, which doesn’t disappoint. The wide fairways offer some forgiveness, especially when conditions turn windy, but playing into the greens from the wrong side of the fairway can be tough. The greens are surrounded by an abundance of short grass, which gives scope for a variety of chip shots.” – Carl Murphy.
38. ELANORA CC
Average points: 72.66 2016 rank: 42.
Designers: Dan Soutar (1929); James Wilcher (2004).
Judge’s Comments: “The couch fairways and A1 bentgrass greens are some of the best playing surfaces to be found in Sydney. Elanora occupies a beautiful setting for golf and for a course that places an emphasis on accuracy, I think the par-5s, the 2nd and 11th, are real standout holes to enjoy.” – Brendan James.
“Presentation can’t be faulted but there are areas of this course that are very narrow and
leave you few options but to play short and straight.” – James King.
37. MAGENTA SHORES
Average points: 74.9 2016 rank: 39.
Designer: Ross Watson (2006).
Judge’s Comments: “All the talk before I played this course was how tough it was. Yes it was challenging but I loved it.” – Peter Martin.
“There has been a noticeable improvement in the condition of all the playing surfaces during the past few years as a result of gaining access to a regular and plentiful water supply. But I still scratch my head at the location of some of the high rough and the need to put deep collars of rough around the edges of bunkers, effectively taking the sand out of play for most players. I’m not sure that was intended by the designer.” – Brendan James.
36. THE AUSTRALIAN GC
Average points: 75 2014 rank: 31.
Designer: Jack Nicklaus (1977 & 2013).
Judge’ Comments: “The changes made by Jack Nicklaus nearly five years ago have added interest around the greens. With more short grass separating the putting surfaces from the rough it does offer a variety of shot options. It’s en route to the green that I’m not a huge fan. Wood chips under trees, for example, don’t allow players a fair go at trying to create a shot to get back into play.” – Brendan James.
“There is a promising golf course beneath the wood chips and pine straw. Expose the natural sandy base, get rid of some of the trees and capture some of what Carnegie Clark created on great land so many years ago.” – Joe Thomas.
“The Australian could be the best conditioned course in the land. If it isn’t, it’s certainly in the top-three.” – James King.
35. The GRANGE GC (East course)
Average points: 75.82 2016 rank: 35.
Designer: Vern Morcom (1967); Greg Norman (2013).
Judge’s Comments: “The more modern design of the two at The Grange, this features the typical bold bunkering of Greg Norman. Really liked the great risk and reward holes on some of the shorter par-4s. The short par-3 8th hole – with a well-designed green complex – is a standout hole.” – Carl Murphy.
“The East Course has settled beautifully and now offers a wonderful golfing contrast to the adjoining West Course.” – James King.
34. BONNIE DOON GC
Average points: 77.15 2016 rank: 38.
Designer: Lance Giddings & Eric Apperly (1937); Prosper Ellis (1951); Ross Watson (1995-2003); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead (2011 and ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Conditioning issues have kept Bonnie Doon in rough diamond territory, but the variety has been buoyed by the five new, tougher holes early in the round that add real teeth before birdie chances galore from the 8th hole onwards.” – Scott Warren.
“Bonnie Doon’s newer holes are wonderful, unlocking the potential of the terrain. On completion, The Doon could be the most architecturally notable course in
Sydney.” – Matt Mollica.
33. MOONAH LINKS (Legends course)
Average points: 77.64 2016 rank: 33.
Designer: Ross Perrett (2003).
Judge’s Comments: “Certainly the better of the two courses at Moonah Links, which caters for players of all standards. Legends has some very strategic holes which are a lot of fun to play, but there are some oddly designed holes (4 & 15) which could be better.” – Carl Murphy.
“I’ve been a regular at Moonah Links over the years and I can never help being enthused about playing the Legends Course. Where the Open Course can intimidate, the Legends is a lot of fun and the presentation has improved a lot in recent times.” – Joe Thomas.
32. YARRA YARRA GC
Average points: 78.15 2016 rank: 34.
Designer: Alex Russell (1928); Martin Hawtree (2011); Tom Doak (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Years of tweaking Alex Russell’s original design left a range of different ideas and looks around the course. What was one of the shining lights of the Melbourne Sandbelt was a collection of holes – some good, some bad. Thankfully the club is looking to recapture some of Russell’s creation through employing acclaimed architect Tom Doak. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with.” – Scott Nielsen.
“Given the pedigree of Tom Doak’s design work, I suspect we’ll see Yarra Yarra move higher yet again when the next ranking list is published in 2020.” – Brendan James.
31. JOONDALUP RESORT (Quarry/Dunes course)
Average points: 78.98 2016 rank: 30.
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jnr (1985).
Judge’s Comments: “The Quarry/Dunes nine is as fun and challenging to play as it was when it opened more than 30 years ago. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th holes on Quarry are a breathtaking stretch of holes you could play everyday and never be disappointed. The Dunes nine has been enhanced by the redesigned par-3 5th hole.”– Joe Thomas.
“If you can’t have fun playing a round on Joondalup’s Quarry/Dune Course you’re not trying.” – Jacqui Lee.
30. GLENELG GC
Average points: 79.25 2016 rank: 25.
Designer: Herbert L. Rymill (1927); Vern Morcom (1955); Neil Crafter & Bob Tuohy (2004).
Judge’s Comments: “A fabulous maintained golf course with some fine par-3 holes and well bunkered driving areas.” – Cameron Howell.
“Great design and outstanding conditioning make every round at Glenelg a joy. I love the variety of par-3 holes at Glenelg. Different distances, different directions … you could
never get bored trying to master these one shot holes. The slightly uphill 11th is a definite favourite.” – Brendan James.
29. BROOKWATER G&CC
Average points: 80.3 2016 rank: 32.
Designer: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2002).
Judge’s Comments: “The overwhelming feeling you get during a round at Brookwater is the majesty of the place. Dramatic elevation changes from tee to green on many holes, tall stands of gum trees, bold bunkering and dynamic greenscapes. You can’t help but love playing here.” – Brendan James.
“The renovation work carried out on the greens has significantly improved the putting experience, while surfaces are now larger and more in tune with the original design of the greens.” – Joe Thomas.
28. THE GRANGE GC (West course)
Average points: 81.15 2016 rank: 28.
Designer: Vern Morcom (1956); Mike Clayton (2008).
Judge’s Comments: “Mike Clayton’s redesign work on the West Course a decade ago enhanced a classic, strategic course, with more width available off the tee, asking questions of the golfer every step of the way.” – Matt Mollica.
“As was proven during the Women’s Australian Open in 2016, the West Course is a strategically brilliant layout.” – Brendan James.
27. THE DUNES GL
Average points: 82 2016 rank: 27.
Designer: Tony Cashmore (1997 & ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “One of my favourite Mornington Peninsula courses. The rolling hills taking you on an adventure of some spectacular holes. There are a few blind shots on the course, which for some is off putting, but the diversity in some of the hole designs, clearly makes up for that.” – Carl Murphy.
“Two decades on and The Dunes never fails to excite.” – Brendan James.
26. NEWCASTLE GC
Average points: 82.69 2016 rank: 18.
Designer: Eric Apperly (1937); Bob Harrison (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “The stretch of holes from the 2nd to 9th hole is among the best sequence of holes in the country, with such wonderful green settings, thrilling shots, and great variety. Newcastle is always a joy to play.” – Matt Mollica.
“When Newcastle loses its less than inspiring 16th, 17th and 18th holes under its redevelopment plan, the new holes to be created by Bob Harrison will undoubtedly see a jump in its ranking position.” – Brendan James.
25. KOOYONGA GC
Average points: 83.3 2016 rank: 26.
Designer: Herbert L. Rymill (1924); Martin Hawtree (2008); Neil Crafter & Paul Mogford (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “The design team, Neil Crafter and Paul Mogford, has been making changes – including some new green sites, bunker renovation and the removal of overgrown scrub – all of which have had a positive impact.” – Brendan James.
“Arguably the best presented course in Adelaide, Kooyonga doesn’t cover a large parcel
of land but some ingenious routing has been fully utilised. A diversity of hole lengths and directions ensure a variety of conditions are encountered during the course of a single
round.” – Carl Murphy.
24. LINKS KENNEDY BAY
Average points: 83.75 2016 rank: 22.
Designer: Michael Coate, Roger Mackay & Ian Baker-Finch (1998).
Judge’s Comments: “Kennedy Bay has reached a high level of conditioning that rarely fluctuates and fully complements the testing layout. The last game I played at Kennedy Bay, I could use my putter from well off the green wherever it was needed, such was the quality of the surrounds.” – Lucas Andrews.
“I always gauge how good a course is by asking myself when I leave whether I would be happy to play that course every day for the rest of my life. Every time I have left Kennedy Bay that answer has been “yes”. I love the great variety of holes and the different shots you have to hit from the tee and into the greens.” – Brendan James.
23. ROYAL QUEENSLAND GC
Average points: 84.69 2016 rank: 23.
Designers: Carnegie Clark (1920); Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Royal Queensland offers thoughtful challenges and loads of fun, rewarding considered shot placement and a developed short game. The wide playing corridors and abundance of short grass about the greens are a welcome plus for many players.” – Matt Mollica.
“Wide, open spaces and plenty of short grass create a challenge to find the narrow playing lines for the best approaches into the greens.” – Brendan James.
22. COMMONWEALTH GC
Average points: 85 2016 rank: 19.
Designers: Sam Bennett (1921); Charles Lane (1926); Sloan Morpeth (1962); Kevin Hartley (1992); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead (2006 & ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “The work to open up the course by removing overgrown areas has had a positive impact. Changes around the 8th teeing area were noticeable and the moving of bunkers on the 2nd made for much better playing lines. It is a shame the rest of the scheduled work has been all but stopped, as this would have further improved the course.” – Carl Murphy.
21. THIRTEENTH BEACH LINKS (Beach course)
Average points: 85.75 2016 rank: 24.
Designer: Tony Cashmore (2001).
Judge’s Comments: “Tony Cashmore’s Beach Course creation is incredibly consistent from go to whoa, making great use of its inland holes. The 16th is the most torturous short par-3 north of Bass Strait.” – Scott Warren.
“For mine this is among the top-5 most fun courses in the country. Cashmore’s dramatic greenscapes demand you get a little creative with your short game and your putting, while some greens – like the punchbowl-shaped 18th – really test your ability to hit the right shot
with the right club to get your ball close to the flag.” – Brendan James.
20. ROYAL CANBERRA (Westbourne course)
Average points: 86.33 2016 rank: Debut.
Designers: Commander John Harris (1962); Peter Thomson & Mike Wolveridge (1984); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (2017 & ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “Wow! Who knew there was so much width to be found among all the trees at Royal Canberra. Royal Canberra is no longer a course that will make you feel claustrophobic walking down the middle of the fairway. The redesign by OCCM has unearthed an absolute gem with plenty of highlights. But there are few better than the par-4 14th, which will make you think deeply about your plan of attack while still on the tee.” – Brendan James.
“Royal Canberra has been transformed from a one-dimensional, no questions asked layout to a high quality course where you have so many options of how to play each hole, depending on your ability, form and the conditions of the day. Royal is now a thinking golfer’s course and I love it.” – Joe Thomas.
19. BARWON HEADS GC
Average points: 87 2016 rank: 21.
Designers: Victor East (1921); Neil Crafter & Paul Mogford (2005 & ongoing).
“The 1st to 8th holes are as much fun as you can have on a golf course in this country, and the conditioning year round is superb.” – Rich Macafee.
“I was blown away the first time I played here by the open nature of the first six holes, sweeping out before me. The feel changes on the back nine, where there are a couple of less memorable holes (16 being one), but a course I could play regularly and remain very happy.” – Carl Murphy.
“One of Australia’s oldest courses and after a couple of holes you could feel transformed to Ireland or Scotland. The recent subtle changes are only making it better.” – Cameron Howell.
18. LAKE KARRINYUP CC
Average points: 87.3 2016 rank: 14.
Designers: Alex Russell (1928); Mike Clayton (2008).
Judge’s Comments: “Lake Karrinyup is now showing the rewards of patience, and committing to a plan to overhaul their course several years ago. The holes themselves are a real treat to play. Karrinyup is another interesting, well-presented, testing yet manageable course with lots of fun shots to play.” – Matt Mollica.
17. THE NATIONAL GC (Old course)
Average points: 87.95 2016 rank: 17.
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jnr (1987)
Judge’s Comments: “A roller-coaster of thrills and spills with lots of fairway movement and a set of outrageous greens, the Old Course is wide and not long, yet it has a wildness that intimidates like few others. Once you get your head around all that is happening around you, it guarantees some of the best fun you can have with a golf club in your hand.” – Brian Walshe.
16. WOODLANDS GC
Average points: 88.32 2016 rank: 16.
Designers: J.D Scott & Rowley Banks (1913); Sam Bennett (1917); Mick Morcom (1928); Jack Newton, Graeme Grant & John Spencer (1987-2001); Graeme Grant (2002-2005); Mike Clayton (2008-2011); Tom Doak (ongoing).
“The quality short fours and set of small greens, demanding precise approaches, and a nerveless short game, are two of Woodlands’ most outstanding features.” – Matt Mollica.
“A course that offers quite a lot, considering its small land size. Woodlands has some of the best short par-4 holes in Melbourne, as well as some of the smallest greens, which is a test of any player’s accuracy.” – Carl Murphy.
15. METROPOLITAN GC
Average points: 89.38 2016 rank: 12.
Designers: J.B MacKenzie (1906); Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926); Dick Wilson (1959);
Mike Clayton (2006); Neil Crafter & Paul Mogford (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Metropolitan is looking better and better with vegetation management improving, and wonderful swathes of native vegetation being reintroduced. Hopefully a sign of things to come at this venerable Sandbelt layout.” – Matt Mollica.
“Metropolitan has much to offer in terms of strategic play, with the bunkers very well placed, enticing the player to take on the risk, but also offering plenty of safety options for those not quite so willing.” – Carl Murphy.
14. THE LAKES GC
Average points: 89.42 2016 rank: 15.
Designers: Bruce Devlin & Robert Von Hagge (1970); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “The use of the sandy waste areas has improved both playability and visuals. The fairway bunkering is some of the best in the country with the preferred line in usually guarded leading to risk and reward decisions that mean you have to think your way around more than you do on most courses.” – Brian Walshe.
“Never managed to play this before the OCCM changes, but the front nine is a stand out for me in Sydney golf. I don’t think there is a better run of holes in the city. The exposed waste adds so much character but also leads to speedier play.” – Carl Murphy.
“As good an advertisement as there is on Earth for well-managed kikuyu as a golf turf, for par-3 finishing holes and for interesting design that make outside influences (motorway, plane noise) fade from your mind.” – Scott Warren.
13. ST. ANDREWS BEACH
Average points: 89.98 2016 rank: 13.
Designers: Tom Doak (2005).
Judge’s Comments: “It is great to see St. Andrews Beach thriving, vying for the position of best course on the Mornington Peninsula. With a strong set of short par-4s, diverse and
testing par-3s, and a collection of excellent, understated greens, Doak’s minimalist layout is wonderful.” – Matt Mollica.
“If Barnbougle didn’t present the best-value golf on the planet, St. Andrews Beach would.” – Scott Warren.
“St. Andrews Beach offers the most affordable, accessible, public, world-class golf in Australia. The conditioning suits the challenging links perfectly, and the imagination required around the greens is equal to any other course in Australia.” – Rich Macafee.
12. VICTORIA GC
Average points: 90.16 2016 rank: 11.
Designers: Oscar Damman, William Meader & Dr Alister MacKenzie (1927); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “A course with slightly tighter playing lines than some of the other Sandbelt classics, but the bunkering and green complexes here are exquisite.” – Carl Murphy.
“Like many of the Sandbelt course, Victoria possesses a world-class short par-4, which is found at the 15th hole. Anything from driver to 7-iron could be thought of as the best choice off the tee. Victoria is also blessed with a wonderful topography, with great movement found throughout the course.” – Ben Jarvis.
11. THE NATIONAL GC (Moonah course)
Average points: 91.89 2016 rank: 9.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2000)
Judge’s Comments: “The Moonah Course possesses a great mix of fun short and long demanding holes. The land is near perfect for great golf and Bob Harrison and Greg Norman did a wonderful job in finding a terrific collection of golf holes on land that has endless opportunities.” – Ben Jarvis.
“Set in the massive dunes of the Cups country, National Moonah combines plenty of fairway movement with some of the best green complexes built in the last 50 years. The first four holes are as good a start as you’ll find in this country and day in day out it is presented in perfect condition. In a state where the one grass policy has become the norm, National Moonah and 13th Beach demonstrate how much better two grasses are.” – Brian Walshe.
10. ROYAL ADELAIDE GC
Average points: 92 2016 rank: 10.
Designers: Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926); Peter Thomson & Mike Wolveridge (1979 & 1997); Mike Clayton (2009); Tom Doak (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “Designer Tom Doak has the uncanny ability to make very simple changes that maximise the enjoyment and strategy of a hole. He’s achieved this to great effect at Royal Adelaide.” – Brendan James.
“I love the understated and quirky nature of Royal Adelaide and have always enjoyed myself there, even when playing poorly. The all-world 3rd hole is in the top handful of short par-4s in the country and Dr Alister MacKenzie made superb use of a central sand dune.” – Ben Jarvis.
9. NEW SOUTH WALES GC
Average points: 92.69
2016 rank: 7.
Designers: Dr Alister MacKenzie (1928); Eric Apperly (1937 & 1951); Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2010); Greg Norman (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “A game of golf at NSW should never be taken for granted. It is blessed with one of the best sites for a golf course in the world. The view atop the 5th fairway is reason alone to battle the ever-present winds at La Perouse.” – Ben Jarvis.
“NSW remains the course in the Aussie Top-10, and indeed the World Top-100, with the most untapped potential. With both a new course architect and new superintendent in the works, the promise of the finishing touches finally being applied feels tantalisingly close.” – Scott Warren.
8. OCEAN DUNES
Average points: 93.67 2016 rank: Debut.
Designers: Graeme Grant (2016)
Judge’s Comments: “The ocean side holes are not only visually spectacular but are designed to give you plenty of options depending on the conditions of the day. The 10th and 11th holes are unforgettable gems. Graeme Grant’s design doesn’t back off when the layout moves inland across and through the massive dunes. The design aside, the presentation of Ocean Dunes is first class.” – James King.
“It is easy to be seduced by the vistas at Ocean Dunes and forget about how good the design is. Graeme Grant obviously had a special piece of land to work with and I can only imagine there was more than 18 holes to be found among the dunes and along the edge of the shore. Ocean Dunes should be on every Australian golfer’s bucket list if it isn’t already.” – Brendan James.
Average points: 94 2016 rank: 8.
Designers: Greg Norman & Bob Harrison (2001)
Judge’s Comments: “Ellerston is a thrill to play. The course is unashamedly challenging, and presents an abundance of demanding drives, and exciting approaches. Set in a gorgeous valley, with Pages Creek hugging and intersecting the majority of holes, it is an exacting, demanding, memorable, enjoyable course. It is one of Bob Harrison’s finest works, in a portfolio of many high calibre designs. It’s just a shame so few experience it.” – Matt Mollica.
“Norman and Harrison certainly met the brief in making it tough. With so many long carries from either the tee or on approach shots, not a course that would suit all players. It is by far the best conditioned course I’ve ever played, which is to be expected.” – Carl Murphy.
6. ROYAL MELBOURNE GC (East course)
Average points: 94.66 2016 rank: 6.
Designers: Alex Russell (1932); Tom Doak (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “More than just the little brother of the West course, Royal Melbourne East is a fine, testing yet manageable layout. It sits comfortably within the upper echelon of Australian golf courses, and has benefitted from years of subtle tweaks from consultant architect Tom Doak.” – Matt Mollica.
“The East Course at Royal Melbourne, I believe, does not receive its due respect. There aren’t many courses that boast as many world-class holes as the East Course does. Remove it from the ‘shadows’ of the West Course, and I wonder if people would view it in a different light?” – Ben Jarvis.
5. BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM
Average points: 96.94 2016 rank: 4.
Designer: Bill Coore (2010)
Judge’s Comments: “Appreciation of Lost Farm benefits greatly from repeat play and as the more subtle and nuanced of the two Barnbougle courses, it grows in my estimation with every visit.” – Scott Warren.
“The more I play Lost Farm the more I learn about its nuances, which leaves me wanting more everytime I head home.” – Brendan James.
“Lost Farm is so much fun and unlike its neighbour, is blessed with a larger property
that allows holes to change direction and hit winds from each direction. The strong par-4
5th and fun short par-4 14th are world-class holes you could play every day for the rest of your life.” – Ben Jarvis.
4. KINGSTON HEATH
Average points: 97.29 2016 rank: 3.
Designers: Dan Soutar (1925), Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926), Graeme Grant (1983-1995); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (ongoing).
Judge’s Comments: “Kingston Heath (right) is a truly magnificent place to play golf, and features so many wonderful shots. The course’s bunkering consistently wins acclaim from all who play there, and the green complexes are among the best in the nation.” – Brendan James.
“Every time I see the course I think it can’t maximise its potential any more, and then
they go and tweak something to get another one per cent out of the 100 acres. It will never be the best golf course in Australia, but it’s certainly the best presented fenceline-to-fenceline.” – Scott Warren
3. CAPE WICKHAM LINKS
Average points: 97.42
2016 rank: 5.
Designers: Mike De Vries & Darius Oliver (2015).
Judge’s Comments: “Cape Wickham (right) is wide, elastic, and understated in most parts. The sensible and sophisticated design accommodates the diverse and sometimes strong winds. The fescue surfaces are a joy to play off and have improved with a little age.” – Matt Mollica.
“Cape Wickham is No.1 on the ‘views and scenery’ rankings, no course in the country can match it. While the coastline and the views are dramatic and spectacular, the design is clever and subtle. The designers have resisted the temptation to fill the course with ‘hero shots’, forced carries and elevated tees. What they have built is a very walkable course on a clever routing. The holes, while understated, are full of interest – and the questions asked of the golfer are backed up by multiple options due to width, all fescue surfaces and plentiful short grass around the greens. It’s the sort of course you want to play a lot, and it will be very playable in the toughest and most variable conditions that players will inevitably be confronted with.” – Rich Macafee.
2. BARNBOUGLE DUNES
Average points: 97.57 2016 rank: 2.
Designers: Tom Doak & Mike Clayton (2004)
Judge’s Comments: “Barnbougle Dunes is the nearest challenger to Royal Melbourne
West’s crown. The course features so many fun shots, and so many world class holes. Amazingly natural green complexes, and great strategic quality are the course’s hallmarks. The fescue surfaces are the southern hemisphere’s nearest thing to Scotland’s finest ancient fairways.” – Matt Mollica.
“The evolution of the course continues with a noticeably sharper, cleaner bunkering style making the course even easier on the eye than it was before.” – Scott Warren.
1. ROYAL MELBOURNE GC (West course)
Average points: 99.8 2016 rank: 1.
Designers: Dr Alister MacKenzie (1931); Tom Doak (ongoing)
Judge’s Comments: “The West Course is the jewel in the crown of Australian golf. All the elements of great architecture are present with width, strategy, sublime bunkering and green complexes mixed in with outstanding management of the natural vegetation. On such a big canvas, it’s the fine details and movement, particularly around the greens that sets the West Course above the rest.”– Brian Walshe.
“With every visit to Royal Melbourne something new is discovered about the subtleties of its design. The slightly wider fairways of the West Course gives rise to great strategic holes where the playing options and questions asked on every tee make it hard not to rank this as the best in Australia.” – Carl Murphy.
“Clearly the No.1 golf course in the country. The term ‘great’ is overused when discussing golf holes and courses. That said, the West Course at Royal Melbourne is one of the few truly great golf courses in the world, with an abundance of great holes. The stretch of holes from No.2 to No.7 may just be the best stretch of six consecutive holes in Australia and quite possibly the world.” – Ben Jarvis.
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