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.
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.