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.
5. BARWON HEADS GC
Barwon Heads, Victoria
Judge’s Comments: “2021 will mark 100 years since the first nine holes of the original Victor East-designed Barwon Heads opened for play, with the second nine being added in 1922. The vintage of this wonderful links layout is evident and has only been enhanced by recent redesign work as part of a masterplan by design team Neil Crafter and Paul Mogford. The opening six holes – across the road from the glorious clubhouse – are some of the most interesting and fun links holes you will find in this country.” – Brendan James.
“Neil Crafter and Paul Mogford’s design work at Barwon Heads has improved many of the holes. The changes to the course have been subtle, which is in keeping with the simplicity and genius of this wonderful layout.” – Hamish Walker.
4. ST. ANDREWS BEACH
St Andrews Beach, Victoria
Judge’s Comments: “I can just imagine how excited Tom Doak would have been when he first laid eyes on this wonderful ‘Cups Region’ landscape. The hardest decision would have been ‘where do I start’? Whatever the decision, the resulting course is brilliant. He provides plenty of room from the tees and every approach shot into a green is accompanied by a question. Brilliant.” – James Walsh.
“St Andrews Beach is the thinking golfer’s piece of chocolate cake … there’s plenty of satisfaction and joy in the eating and when it’s all gone, like putting out on the 18th, you desperately want to indulge in some more.” – Brendan James.
3. BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM
Judge’s Comments: “The game’s best courses never reveal all at first sight. They take dozens of rounds – played in different weather, wind directions and time of year – offering a variety of pin positions before you even scratch the surface of ‘really’ knowing the course. Barnbougle Lost Farm is one such course. The Bill Coore-designed Lost Farm rarely plays the same from morning to afternoon, let alone from day-to-day or week-to-week, which makes it a lot of fun to play. Every round is almost a journey of discovery.” – Brendan James.
“Lost Farm is not quite as dramatic around the edges or with the same undulating topography as the Dunes layout next door. But Lost Farm’s wider fairways make this a more strategic course with multiple routes between tee and green, depending on the clubs you wish to use. Great stuff!” – Nathan Burgess.
2. BARNBOUGLE DUNES
Judge’s Comments: “On a calm day, Barnbougle Dunes can be conquered; when the wind blows it can be downright diabolical … and just as much fun, which is why Barnbougle Dunes has been pencilled onto golfer’s bucket lists across the globe.” – Hamish Walker.
“Tom Doak and Mike Clayton’s course is world class by any measure. The looping nines along Anderson Bay create an extraordinary set of highlights via holes such as the multi-faceted par-4 4th and the fiendish short par-3 7th, known as Tom’s Little Devil, which is possibly the most impossible 110 metres of golfing ground in the game.” – Brendan James.
“Barnbougle Dunes has now been in the ground for almost 17 years, but it has the look of a century old classic you might discover on the west coast of England or Ireland.” – Joseph Baker.
1. CAPE WICKHAM LINKS
King Island, Tasmania
Judge’s Comment: “When the weather is OK, Cape Wickham comes closest to toppling Royal Melbourne’s West Course as the premier layout in Australia, with a lion’s share of world class holes set against an ocean backdrop at every turn. When the wind really blows (usually from the west) it is a brutal excursion but the genius of the Mike DeVries and Darius Oliver design makes it playable and, for some, fun.” – Hamish Walker.
“It’s easy to overlook the quality of the design and presentation of the Cape Wickham course when you’re distracted by the scenery. The routing maximises the ocean views, while the generous playing corridors leave it up to the individual how they will play the hole. The creative juices of designer Mike DeVries were obviously flowing when he crafted the green complexes here.” – Lucas Andrews.
“Every golfer should play Cape Wickham before they die.” – Brendan James.