After two years of judging, here is the most comprehensive ranking of the nation’s finest 100 layouts in the land.
5. PENINSULA KINGSWOOD COUNTRY CLUB – NORTH COURSE
Designers: Sloan Morpeth (1969); Mike Clayton (2002); Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking & Ashley Mead – OCCM (2019).
Average points: 96.33.
2018, 2016, 2014, 2012 rankings: NR, 20, 18, 17.
Judge's comments: “One of the best parcels of land for golf on the Sandbelt is now home to a course of rare quality. Exceptional green complexes, and gorgeous bunkering are complimented by pure putting surfaces. Hole after hole of engaging design, fun and challenge. The course catapults into the Top 10 in the country, sitting comfortably alongside our most revered classic layouts.” – Matt Mollica.
“Peninsula North is OCCM’s take on the modern Sandbelt and they deliver a course full of great green complexes and clever fairway bunkering. The greens are big and full of interesting lobes and shelfs with greenside bunkers that can punish those who confuse ambition and talent. Moving the pins around could see the course easily transit from member-friendly to pro-level test.” – Brian Walshe.
“One of the best redesigns I have seen. The new 2nd hole is one of the best par-3s in Australia. I love the variety of tee shots required around the North Course, which also offers a great blend and balance of strong holes alongside shorter tactical holes.” – DJ Loypur.
“The North Course is a true test of golf and in the tradition of the Sandbelt, the designers delivered a course with some of the best combination of holes in Australia. The par-3 2nd hole deserves to be remembered almost as much as the seamless transition to the multi-platform 3rd hole teeing ground.” – Ross Flannigan.
4. BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM
Designer: Bill Coore (2010).
Average points: 97.
2018, 2016, 2014, 2012 rankings: 5, 4, 3, 4.
Judge's comments: “It’s a shame this is the only Bill Coore-designed course in Australia as it is a standout. Superb routing takes you through
some fantastic dune land, whilst constant changes in direction ensures a variety in
play.” – Carl Murphy.
“I’ve yet to have more fun on a golf course with golfers from all walks of life that I have at Lost Farm, which, for mine, edges out its neighbour by a blade of fescue. The downhill par-4 14th hole may be my favourite hole in Australia.” – Michael Green.
“Lost Farm is a course equal in quality to its older sibling next door. Expertly routed by Bill Coore, the course is wide and manageable in any wind. It presents dramatic tee shots, and asks for thoughtful golf, and many thrilling approaches. The variety and quality of the par-4 holes is really something.” – Matt Mollica.
“There are a lot of courses in Australia that have fantastic second shots. Lost Farm is one of the few where the tee shots are thrilling as well. The oblique drives on 1 and 13, the dare of the ‘Tiger’ line right on 8, the temptation on 3 and 14 and the daunting dune on 5. Lost Farm uses its width and superb greens to challenge everyone.” – Brian Walshe.
“Every time I play Bill Coore’s masterpiece on Bass Strait, I find some ground feature or pin position I had never previously noticed. It’s a close-run thing for the title of “Best Course at Bridport”, but for the fine details of Lost Farm raise it slightly above its rugged, dramatic sister next door.” – Scott Warren.
3. BARNBOUGLE DUNES
Designers: Tom Doak & Mike Clayton (2004).
Average points: 98.15
2018, 2016, 2014, 2012 rankings: 2, 2, 2, 3.
Judge's comments: “In my opinion, Barnbougle Dunes is the nearest challenger to Royal Melbourne West’s crown. The course features so many fun shots, and so many all-world holes. Amazingly natural green complexes, and great strategic quality are the course’s hallmarks. A tremendous setting for golf constantly skirting and traversing the dunes. The fescue surfaces are the southern hemisphere’s nearest thing to Scotland’s finest ancient fairways.” – Matt Mollica.
“Barnbougle is an outstanding combination of great routing and terrific greens. There are all world holes such as 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 13, 15 and 18 that, after a morning’s golf, drag you back out in the afternoon for a second attempt at deciphering some of the riddles.” – Brian Walshe.
“Still has the WOW factor. The opening nine is one of the best front nines in the world in my opinion.” – Matt Laverty.
2. CAPE WICKHAM LINKS
King Island, Tasmania
Designers: Mike DeVries & Darius Oliver (2015).
Average points: 98.89
2018, 2016, 2014, 2012 rankings: 3, 5, NR, NR.
Judge's comments: “Now fully grown in, Cape Wickham is putting a great case forward to be included in the argument as the best course in Australia. The firm fully fescue surfaces make it the best conditioned course in the country, especially around the green sites where every club in your bag is an option to play short game shots with. It has Australia’s best opening and closing holes now, and everything else in between is subtle, fun and rewarding to play – all in a spectacular setting.” – Rich Macafee.
“A very well-designed course that unfortunately doesn’t get as much recognition for its architecture as it deserves due to its spectacular setting, which is all you can talk about after a round at Cape Wickham.” – DJ Loypur.
“Cape Wickham is a bit of an enigma. On a good day it is close to the best course in the country with some of the most spectacular holes and scenery you will find anywhere in the world. The routing maximises what is a stunning backdrop. On other days when the wind really blows it is unplayable. Everyone should play Wickham at least once, hopefully when the weather contributes to the experience.” – Brian Walshe.
“Absolutely sensational course. Routing ensures scenic views and conditions come into play for most of the round. Wide fairways with a great deal of strategy throughout most of the course. Best finishing hole in Australia, although not a big fan of 9 & 10.” – Carl Murphy.
“Cape Wickham is wide, elastic, and understated in most parts. The sensible and sophisticated design accommodates the diverse and sometimes strong winds. Shot after shot is thrilling and the course is visually spectacular. The fescue surfaces are a joy to play off and have improved with age.” – Matt Mollica.
1. ROYAL MELBOURNE GOLF CLUB – WEST COURSE
Black Rock, Victoria
Designers: Dr Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell (1931); Tom Doak (ongoing).
Average points: 99.5.
2018, 2016, 2014, 2012 rankings: 1, 1, 1, 1.
Judge's comments: “Still the standout course in Australia with its classic routing on superb land. This may not have the views of some of the other top courses, but the design more than makes up for that. One of the great legacies left by Dr Alister MacKenzie for Australian golf.” – Carl Murphy.
“Despite the emergence of several challengers for the No.1 title, Royal Melbourne West continues to stand above all others. It boasts a vast number of world-class holes, brilliant green complexes and bunkering, is routed exceptionally well and sits on brilliant golfing land. Superintendent Richard Forsyth and his staff consistently present the course perfectly, and the vegetation management is world class. Royal Melbourne West is one of the world’s best courses, and the premier layout in Australia. The stretch of holes from 2-7 is perhaps the best sequence of half a dozen holes on Earth.” – Matt Mollica.
“When you finish a round on Royal Melbourne West, you’re immediately scheming to work out how you can get back on.” – Adrian Logue.
“Golf course architecture on a grand scale, with width, huge greens, beautiful bunkering and swooping fairways. Yet it is the intricate details, particularly around the greens, that sets Royal Melbourne West apart. The swale in front and the reverse slope on the 3rd green, the beautiful transition from sandy waste to bunker right of the 17th green. Royal Melbourne West remains the benchmark.” – Brian Walshe.
“There’s no greater experience in Australian golf. The brilliance of the green complexes continue to prove to be some of the world’s best, despite the seemingly never ending advancements in golf technology.” – Andrew Anderson.
“Australia’s greatest golf course may actually have benefited from the out-of-control golf technology arms race. The qualities of the reachable par-5s, short par-4s and the legendary 200-metre par-3 16th have become relevant for more and more regular golfers in the past decade.” – Scott Warren.
A high-quality global golf experience. The presence of Dr Alister MacKenzie is evident at every turn. It is built on the best parcel of land in the Sandbelt and deserves its position of global golfing respect.” – Ross Flannigan.