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.
14. PORT FAIRY LINKS
Port Fairy, Victoria
Judge’s Comments: “The evolution of this wonderful links layout continues, having been ranked No.31 in this list in 2011. There have been lots of changes to the layout during the past decade – from the addition of bunkers, the clearing of coastal scrub and the rebuilding of several greens – all of which have improved this seaside gem.” – Brendan James.
“Not only does Port Fairy offer one of the best valued for money rounds in the country, it is a memorable golfing experience for everyone … from pros and elite amateurs right through to the casual holidaying golfer, such is the quality of this simple but always interesting design.” – John Blackwell.
13. JOONDALUP RESORT (Quarry-Dune Course)
Joondalup, Western Australia
Judge’s Comment: “There is no other site in the country quite like the Quarry and Dune layout at Joondalup. Robert Trent Jones Jr’s imaginative routing around, through and over an abandoned quarry sets the scene for some memorable golf holes. Playing the string of holes from the par-4 2nd to the par-4 6th on the Quarry nine as well as the 3rd to the 6th of the Dune nine are worth the cost of the green fee alone.” – Anthony Brown.
“There is no more dramatic landscape for golf in WA. From what it once was, it was beautifully transformed into a challenging and unforgettable golfing experience.” – Chris Davidson.
12. BROOKWATER G&CC
Judge’s Comments: “Brookwater can be penal but if you play smart around this Greg Norman design and use the dramatic terrain to your advantage, you can make a good score here. The condition of the course has significantly improved since a refurbishment a few years ago.” – Phil Nicholls.
“A testing challenge from the opening drive to the last uphill approach to the 18th green. Heavily tree-lined and covering land that varies significantly from hilly to flat in parts, which creates all kinds of lies and shots from one hole to the next.” – Gavin Hill.
“Everything about Brookwater is big, from the greens to the trees that line every hole. It is a big stage that offers a memorable round every time you play there.” – Bernie Smith.
11. BONVILLE GOLF RESORT
Judge’s Comments: “What a spectacular course. It’s not just the setting – picture well-manicured undulating fairways lined by Flooded gums and other natives and the occasional lake or stream – it’s the quality of the holes and the challenges they present. The par-5s are an absolute standout, the short par-4s (like the double water carry 15th) are interesting and fun while the par-3 17th is world class.” – Jack Donaldson.
“My only disappointment about Bonville is that it’s a six-hour drive from Sydney and I don’t get to play there very often. But, when I do, I love every moment. It’s such a wonderful setting that you can easily forget how bad you’re playing, while the ovreall resort experience is first class.” – Debbie Walker.
10. LINKS KENNEDY BAY
Port Kennedy, Western Australia
Judge’s Comment: “A fabulous links course that features for the last time in this ranking in its current form. The Michael Coate and Roger Mackay creation is set to lose nine holes to make way for a residential development, while Graham Marsh has been commissioned to design the new nine to complete the redesign. The developers have said works will be staggered to ensure a nine-hole course is always open during the construction process.” – Brendan James.
9. NEWCASTLE GC
Fern Bay, NSW
Judge’s Comments: “What an incredible course, that has withstood the test of time and advances in modern equipment so well. Everyone talks about the trio of holes – the twin par-4s, the 5th and 6th, and the world class par-3 7th – but Newcastle offers far more than these three beauties. The sandy, rolling landscape offers up gems like the par-4 2nd or the par-5 10th – with its blind tee shot and second shot.” – Joe Thomas.
“Precise ball-striking is the order of the day for a round here. There are no weak holes across the entire property, but the course will become even stronger when it loses the closing three holes and new holes will be created on the east side of the layout.” – Daniel O’Keefe.
8. THE DUNES GOLF LINKS
Judge’s Comments: “Golf is meant to be fun and The Dunes offers exactly that by the bucket load. There are any number of shots during the round – like the approach into the 1st or the 4th or the second shot over the sandy wasteland on 12, or the tee shots on 13 and 17 – that get you really excited and hopeful you can meet the challenge.” – Hamish Walker.
“The Dunes blends so well with its natural surrounds it seems like it has been in the ground for a hundred years.” – Alex Georgiou.
“There’s width from the tee, interesting green complexes, wild and natural bunkering, questions asked on every shot and the playing surfaces are superb. You can’t ask for any more than that.” – James Walsh.
7. THIRTEENTH BEACH LINKS (Beach Course)
Barwon Heads, Victoria
Judge’s Comment: “The Beach Course will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021 and it’s as exciting to play today as it was when designer Tony Cashmore completed the layout. The course sits on fantastic rolling land, with holes predominantly running through or alongside the dunes at the back of Thirteenth Beach. Cashmore’s imagination ran wild with the green complexes, incorporating plenty of movement under foot as well as varying the size of each. All of this makes for a whole lot of fun.” – Brendan James.
6. OCEAN DUNES
King Island, Tasmania
Judge’s Comments: “Forget the fact Ocean Dunes has dropped two places in this ranking since 2019. The rise of other courses in the top-10 has squeezed out the King Island layout, but it remains one of this country’s most spectacular courses.” – Brendan James.
“The ocean views from most parts of the course is the icing on an impressive golfing cake. There are few places (NSW GC in Sydney comes close) in Australia where you hit golf shots as close to the sea as you do at Ocean Dunes. You can actually stand on the tee at the par-3 4th and feel the spray of the ocean on your face as you prepare to hit.” – Hamish Walker.
“The stars of a round at Ocean Dunes are the seaside holes, like the opening quartet as well as the brilliant 10th and 11th holes, but they are suitably supported by some impressive inland holes that offer great views as well as plenty of challenges.” – Sam Brooking.