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.
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.
How many of our Top-100 Courses have you played? See how you compare with other golfers and visit www.mostuniquecourses.com and register to check off your courses.