Australia has six of the world’s best golf courses plus many more unique courses well worth playing all across the country.
By Sue Gough Henly
Great Golf Courses of Australia is a collection of Australia’s finest golf courses and private clubs. From the city to the seaside, the tropics to the temperate, these courses will challenge your golf skills and the landscapes will take your breath away. Play the famous Victorian Sandbelt, or test your game on the links courses that wind through the wild and dramatic dunes of northeast Tasmania. Tee up alongside the sandstone sea-cliffs of southern Sydney or on a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef. With seven of the world’s top 100 courses, great weather and amazing food and wine in spectacular settings, the Great Golf Courses of Australia should be at the top of any serious golfer's bucket list.
Golf Course Locations
Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Australian ranking: 1
Global ranking: 9
Royal Melbourne Golf Club is Australia’s most recognized golf club. Consisting of two courses – The East and West, volumes have been written about the spectacular landscape and conditioning of Royal Melbourne. In 1926, from the sandy loam subsoil of the Melbourne Sandbelt, the revered Scottish architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie carved Royal Melbourne’s West Course. Strategically designed based on the average members’ ages and handicaps, MacKenzie created a course that was fun and challenging for golfers of all abilities. Shortly after completing the masterpiece of the West Course MacKenzie appointed former Australian Open champion Alex Russell to complete the East Course.
Royal Melbourne has hosted numerous national and international events, most famously the 1959 Canada Cup, and the 1970 World Cup and the 2008 and 2011 Presidents Cup. In 2019 the Presidents cup will once again return to Royal Melbourne, providing the international players with the challenging route of the composite course – a combination of the best holes (12 holes from West and 6 holes from East) from each routing.
Kingston Heath Golf Club
Australian ranking: 3
Global ranking: 18
Strategically situated along Melbourne’s Sandbelt, the beautifully manicured fairways of Kingston Heath Golf Club have earned the course an enviable reputation for superb conditioning year in, year out, . The 18-hole course has plenty to challenge every level of golfer, with clever use of dips and hollows, along with bunkering and unforgiving grass, tea tree and sandy scrapes. Kingston Heath’s greens have gone on to host many national and international golfing events, including the Australian Open, Australian Masters and the Women’s Australian Open.
The National Golf Club
Australian ranking: 9
Global ranking: 87
Located at Cape Schanck on the spectacular Mornington Peninsula, just a short drive from Melbourne, The National Golf Club and its three Signature 18-hole courses is widely recognized as one of the best pieces of golfing real estate in the country. The Old Course, the Moonah Course and the Ocean Course together deliver 54 holes of golfing heaven, each with their own unique design aspects and challenges. With the club’s close proximity to vineyards and beaches of the local area, you’ll need to set aside more than a day to truly experience these spectacular courses and the experiences of the Mornington Peninsula.
The Victoria Golf Club
Australian ranking: 11
Global ranking: 94
The Victoria Golf Club, in Melbourne’s Sandbelt, has hosted many prestigious golfing events over the years, including the Australian Open and the Women's Australian Open. Designed by Oscar Damman and Bill Meader, under the watchful eye of Dr Alister MacKenzie, the course has continued to evolve and improve. It is the home club of Australian golfing great Peter Thomson, winner of five British Open Championships. The strategic bunkering, green complexes and effects of the weather make for a challenging and rewarding course. The Clubhouse offers 15 comfortable rooms where you can rest between jaunts on the green.
Metropolitan Golf Club
Australian ranking: 12
Widely recognised as being among the finest championship courses in Australia, the Metropolitan Golf Club is littered with 96 bunkers. In 1908, engineer J. B. MacKenzie transformed the original sandy landscape into lush, green fairways, complete with magnificent plantations of Australian native trees and shrubs, including the oldest existing specimen of red flowering gum. Now renowned as one of the best conditioned courses in the country, the Metropolitan is also considered one of the most difficult of the championship golf courses in the Melbourne Sandbelt, and has hosted a number of Australian Open and PGA championships.
Woodlands Golf Club
Australian ranking: 16
Woodlands Golf Club was completed in 1919 and the course has changed very little since. With first-class greens surrounded by native trees including magnificent red gums, Woodlands Golf Club offers relatively small fairways peppered with excellent bunkering. Spread over 150 acres (60 hectares) with more than 6000 metres (3.7 miles) of fairway, the course greens are small, hard and very fast, creating a round that truly tests any golfer’s shot-making ability. Woodlands’ fourth hole is widely regarded as one of the best short par fours in Australia; tee positioning is vital, as a steep bank on either side protects the green. A challenging but fair course for high handicappers and golf pros alike.
Commonwealth Golf Club
Australian ranking: 19
Included in Tom Doak’s list of “31 courses I would take a good friend to see”, Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne’s Sandbelt is renowned for its many challenges, including long driving holes and subtle slopes that call for accurate shots. The trees that line the fairways are some of the finest stands in Australian golf and the 15th to 18th holes are considered one of the best closing stretches of any course in Australia. The 16th, a mid-length par four turning around a lake, is particularly well known for its tilting green, which is protected by a large, deep bunker.
Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club
Australian ranking: 20
The Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club is a true country club, boasting 52 holes across three expansive courses while providing the ultimate in Australian hospitality with 41 rooms, fine food and wine and a range of non-golf facilities. The Club has two Championship courses that test a player’s game every step of the way. Choose between the renovated North Course, which is designed to advantage those who plan their way around rather than "blaze away", or the challenging South course, with its wide fairways, large bunkers and big greens
Yarra Yarra Golf Club
Australian ranking: 34
Designed by golfing architect Alex Russell, the Yarra Yarra Golf Club’s greens are characterised by fast and undulating plays, extreme slopes and camouflaged bunkers. Many of the world’s greatest golfers, including Babe Didrikson, Greg Norman, and Karrie Webb, have played at this beautiful undulating course alongside Melbourne’s Yarra River. Both Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby launched their professional careers from here. Its four par threes are rated in Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide as among the best on the planet and the par three 11th hole is described by Peter Thomson as a "national treasure".
Huntingdale Golf Club
Australian ranking: 46
The youngest of Melbourne’s Sandbelt courses, Huntingdale Golf Club is best known as the home of the Australian Masters, after hosting the prestigious tournament for 30 consecutive years. It has hosted the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman. The only example of English golf architect C. H. Alison’s work in Australia, the course is categorised by its superbly manicured fairways, strategic bunkering and fast and true greens that are kept in top condition year-round. The green’s design encourages plays to the left, while the bunker is designed so that an incorrect shot almost certainly results in a bogey.
Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links
Australian ranking: 2
Global ranking: 33
Located along the wild and remote coast of Northeast Tasmania, The Dunes Course at Barnbougle Golf Resort has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most impressive links courses since its opening in 2004. Designed by US golf architect Tom Doak and former Australian pro golfer Michael Clayton, the course is a spectacular amalgamation of Mother Nature and human craftsmanship. The quirky par three seventh hole, nicknamed "Tom’s little devil", demands a precise shot from a slightly elevated tee onto a tiny upturned green which can be difficult in windy conditions. The fourth hole boasts the largest bunker in the entire Southern Hemisphere. Stay in classic beach-front cottages and four-bedroom villas and dine at the clubhouse with its superb views.
Barnbougle Lost Farm Golf Links
Australian ranking: 4
Global ranking: 40
Barnbougle Lost Farm is one of Australia’s most visually spectacular golfing experiences. Established in 2010 to complement the fairways of The Dunes, Lost Farm boast some distinct similarities and yet is noticeably different to its sister course. On the steep, dramatic sand dunes of the Tasmania coast, golf architect Bill Coore created a non-traditional 20-hole course, with greens dispersed among the dunes and along the coastline. Teeing off from coastal heathland and playing inland beside the Forester River, the fifth hole is a particular highlight, with the possibility of a birdie or eagle within sight. Lost Farm Lodge offers stylish accommodation overlooking the golf course or the ocean and the restaurant sources the finest Tasmanian produce and wines for memorable meals.
New South Wales
New South Wales Golf Club
Australian ranking: 7
Global ranking: 30
The first thing you notice from the Clubhouse after entering the New South Wales Golf Club, situated on the rugged cliffs at La Perouse, is the 360 degree view of surrounding Botany Bay and Sydney’s spectacular city skyline. A breathtaking course framed by the Pacific Ocean on all sides, the New South Wales Golf Club was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie and is a wonderful combination of undulating fairways, scenic vistas and spectacular traditional clubhouse that offers five-star comfort. The 5th and 6th holes are known for being one of the best double acts in the world, particularly the latter hole, which is played from a rocky outcrop overlooking the ocean, and demands player precision and supreme focus.
The Lakes Golf Club
Australian ranking: 15
As one of Australia’s most distinguished private clubs, The Lakes Golf Club (just 15 minutes from Sydney's city centre) borders the Botany Aquifer and Wetlands area, which has an abundance of wildlife as well as providing daunting hazards on course. The par five 14th hole with its famous water carry is the biggest and wildest green on the course, and is a challenge for every golfing level.
The Royal Adelaide Golf Club
Australian ranking: 10
With a core of outstanding holes and an unmistakably adventurous streak, the Dr Alister MacKenzie-designed Royal Adelaide Golf Club provides a platform for creative shots and an extremely enjoyable golfing experience. The expansive links course is set along the sandy craters and dunes of beachside Seaton with native flora and fauna protected, while the Grange Railway still transects the course. It has hosted numerous Australian Open competitions over the years. The thrid hole is said to be one of the best par fours in the world.
Hamilton Island Golf Club
Australian ranking: 44
Situated on Dent Island in the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef, the Hamilton Island Golf Club has a spectacular setting and is Australia’s only championship golf course on its own island. The challenging course, designed by champion pro-golfer Peter Thomson, blends seamlessly into the natural undulating landscape. With holes positioned along ridges and played across steep valleys, the course is a joy to play while the ever-present sea breeze adds to the experience. After your round, relax in the stylish clubhouse and enjoy stunning views of one of the world’s most celebrated natural wonders.
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