Our biennial ranking of the Top-100 Public Access Courses in the nation is here. With international travel off the table for the foreseeable future, here is a feast of fine courses everyone can play … right here at home.
44. TASMANIA GC
Judge’s Comments: “There has been a lot of tree clearing at Tasmania in recent times and all of it for the better. Holes like the 9th and 10th feel a little more exposed to the weather now, which adds to the challenge of these long par-4s.” – Nathan Burgess.
“Dramatic topography gives rise to some unique and memorable holes at Tasmania GC. While the par-5 3rd wrapping around the edge of Barilla Bay is the pin-up hole for the course, there are a host of other great holes, like the drop-shot par-3 11th or the short
par-4 15th. These are holes you simply won’t find anywhere else.” – Joseph Baker.
43. MURRAY DOWNS G&CC
Murray Downs, NSW
Judge’s Comments: “The playing surfaces are immaculate, the course plays firm and fast and incorporates all the best elements of the Parslow brothers’ design. I would never tire playing this course if I was a member here.” – Jack Donaldson.
“It is a source of great relief and joy to play Murray Downs’ long par-3 5th and succesfully carry the water, avoid all the bunkers and run your ball up onto the green.” – Susan Johnson.
42. MT COMPASS GOLF COURSE
Mt Compass, South Australia
Judge’s Comment: “Mt Compass is one of the most improved courses in Australia in recent times. Since ownership changed a handful of years ago and significant investment was made in the presentation of the course, Mt Compass has gone from strength-to-strength. The course maintenance crew are to be loudly applauded for the transformation of the quality Neil Crafter design.” – Brendan James.
41. RIVERSIDE OAKS RESORT (Bungool Course)
Judge’s Comment: “A very good risk-and-reward layout from designer Bob Harrison. The holes lying nearest to the Hawkesbury River are unique, while the sequence of holes from the 8th to the 15th (on the southern half of the course) are significantly more open and have a ‘links’ feel about them. To me, they’re the standout holes of what is a high quality layout.” – Julian Allen.
40. WARRNAMBOOL GC
Judge’s Comments: “The work to clear scrub from sand dunes beside holes like the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th has definitely enhanced the golfing experience here. The exposed dunes not only look great, but you get a better view of your destination from the fairway.” – John Blackwell.
“Warrnambool was the greatest eye-opener for me in the past two years of looking at courses. The setting is beautiful, the fairways and greens are immaculate, and Mother Nature absolutely guarantees no two rounds you play on this layout are ever going to be the same.” – Phil Nicholls.
39. JOONDALUP RESORT (Quarry-Lake Course)
Joondalup, Western Australia
Judge’s Comments: “The two most contrasting nines at Joondalup make for a fun round. You have the visually spectacular natural surrounds of the Quarry course, while the Robert Trent Jones Jnr created moonscape bunkering and dramatic mounding on the Lake course really change things up.” – Chris Davidson.
“The drama charged Quarry nine never fails to impress, while the Lake nine is hugely underrated.” – Nikki Scott.
38. PACIFIC DUNES GC
Judge’s Comment: “I’ve always enjoyed playing at Pacific Dunes. However, the maturation of the trees lining many holes – particularly on the front nine – since the course opened in the mid-2000s is now affecting the design by shutting down lines into the angled greens. The stretch of holes from the 2nd to the 9th were always heavily tree-lined and tight but the corridors are seemingly even narrower now.” – Joe Thomas.
37. RANFURLIE GC
Judge’s Comments: “It is only in the past few years that I have come to appreciate the quality of Mike Clayton’s design at Ranfurlie. It is not remarkable land, but the routing makes the most of it. There is a myriad of ways to get your ball around this course, which is testament to the design.” – James Walsh.
“I’ve always felt the presentation of Ranfurlie let down the quality of the design, but this hasn’t been a factor in recent years.” – Graham Brady.
36. SUN CITY CC
Yanchep, Western Australia
Judge’s Comments: “Six years ago, Sun City cracked a spot in this ranking at No.75 after the first few holes of an extensive redesign by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM) were opened for play. In the ensuing years it has cemented a spot in the mid-30s of this list and as more holes are renovated it is likely Sun City will edge even closer to the top-25.” – Brendan James.
“New holes, like the short uphill par-4 2nd, the 10th and the back nine trio from 13 through 15, have elevated Sun City to must play status.” – Richard O’Reilly.
35. SETTLERS RUN G&CC
Botanic Ridge, Victoria
Judge’s Comments: “There is a lot to like about this Greg Norman-designed layout. The best holes cover the terrain with most changes in elevation, while the expansive bunkering blends in well with the shaping of the fairways, much like what you will find in the nearby Melbourne Sandbelt.” – Hamish Walker.
“Wide fairways, big bunkers and interesting green complexes all wrapped up in a beautifully presented package.” – Felicity Chapman.
34. LAKELANDS GC
Judge’s Comments: “The fairways and greens at Lakelands are always excellent and some of the best to be found on the Gold Coast.” – Tara Vincent.
“There is no doubt Lakelands has been one of the best presented courses on the Gold Coast for many years. But the Jack Nicklaus-design has been compromised by fairway mowing lines that see nearly all the fairway bunkers now lying in the rough and many of the approach angles into greens from fairway edges lost.” – Brendan James.
33. STONECUTTERS RIDGE GC
Judge’s Comment: “Changes in elevation, even slight ones, usually give rise to the most interesting holes on a golf course. But not so at Stonecutters Ridge, where the best holes – in my opinion – cover the flattest terrain early in the round. The fairways are wide and this offers a variety of playing lines, with different clubs, into the greens. That said, there are several very good holes on the inward nine, like the par-4 14th, which are laid across undulating land adding to the challenge of the layout.” – Lucas Andrews.
32. KALGOORLIE GC
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Judge’s Comments: “Kalgoorlie continues to inch higher in this ranking on the back of superior year-round presentation, which is quite a feat given the climate fluctuations between the heights of winter and summer.” – Richard O’Reilly.
“What a wonderful landscape for a golf course. The place bursts with desert colour, especially on dusk, and reminds me of a Russell Drysdale painting.” – Nikki Scott.
31. LONG REEF GC
Judge’s Comments: “The removal of the greenkeeping shed from the middle of the course as part of a new lake construction has certainly improved the visuals across the layout, which is in keeping with the spectacular vistas up and down the coast from every corner of the course.” – Matthew Greig.
“Several holes have improved after a minor redesign, including the downhill par-4 16th, while the course’s condition puts it among the best layouts in Sydney.” – Paul Wilson.
30. SANCTUARY LAKES GC
Point Cook, Victoria
Judge’s Comments: “When you consider the land at Sanctuary Lakes was previously a salt plain, it is simply amazing what Greg Norman and Bob Harrison have created. Expansive bunkering blends with mounding – subtle and dramatic – to produce some of the best green complexes in Melbourne outside the Sandbelt.” – James Walsh.
“I always enjoy a round at Sanctuary Lakes. It generally plays firm and fast, which brings every element of the design right into play.” – Sam Brooking.