From traditional links golf courses of Tasmania to the championship Sandbelt region in Melbourne, Australia has some of the best courses in the world, and some hidden gems that are all worth exploring.
By Sue Gough Henly
Australia’s golf courses are diverse, offering a memorable experience for every golfer. The championship courses of the Signature Tier are for the true golf enthusiasts. Immersed in history and designed by some of the world’s leading architects – old and new, Signature Courses are exceptional in design, scenery, maintenance and hospitality and include nine that are rated in the top 100 in the world.
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 Melbourne 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 great golf, great weather and amazing food and wine, the Great Golf Courses of Australia should be at the top of any serious golfer's bucket list.
Our Premier Courses are a great option for those travelling to a region of Australia to experience the spectacular scenery and warm hospitality as well as a round of golf. These courses are located primarily in tourism hot spots and offer golfers a very good golf experience combined with regional charm and friendly hospitality.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is Australia’s most recognised 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 The Royal Melbourne 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.
Australian ranking: 1
Global ranking: 6
Kingston Heath Golf Club
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.
Australian ranking: 2
Global ranking: 18
The National Golf Club
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 recognised as one of the best pieces of golfing real estate in the country. It consists of The Old Course, the Moonah Course and the Gunamatta Course, which has recently undergone some architectural changes by leading American golf architect, Tom Doak. Together these courses 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 along with the experiences of the Mornington Peninsula.
Australian ranking: 11
Global ranking: 83
The Victoria Golf Club
The Victoria Golf Club, on Melbourne’s Sandbelt, has hosted many prestigious golfing events over the years, including the Australian Open and the Women's Australian Open. Originally designed by Oscar Damman and Bill Meader, under the watchful eye of Dr Alister MacKenzie, the course has recently entrusted Australian design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking, Mead to make some architectural changes. 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.
Australian ranking: 12
Metropolitan Golf Club
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 on the Melbourne Sandbelt, and has hosted a number of Australian Open and PGA championships, and in 2018 hosted international match-play event, The World Cup of Golf.
Australian ranking: 15
Woodlands Golf Club
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 6,000 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.
Australian ranking: 16
Commonwealth Golf Club
Included in Tom Doak’s list of “31 courses I would take a good friend to see”, Commonwealth Golf Club on 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 hole is 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.
Australian ranking: 22
Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club
After four years of development work, a new-look Peninsula Kingswood has reopened on the Melbourne Sandbelt. After a merger of two facilities in 2013 (Peninsula Golf Club and Kingswood Golf Club), the club sold the Kingswood site and invested significant funds in redeveloping the two courses onsite as well as the development of a new clubhouse, pro-shop, pool, gym and onsite accommodation facilities. Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking, Mead led the redevelopment and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Both the North and South course layouts showcase all that is great about Sandbelt golf - superbly conditioned and contoured greens, artistically designed ‘flash’ bunkering and short grass surrounds. The courses and new onsite facilities are embellished by natural sandy heathland areas for which the Sandbelt is renowned.
Yarra Yarra Golf Club
Designed by golfing architect Alex Russell, with recent updates by renowned US Architect Tom Doak, the Yarra Yarra Golf Club is characterised by fast and undulating greens 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 The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses as among the best on the planet and the par three eleventh hole is described by Peter Thomson as a "national treasure".
Australian ranking: 32
Huntingdale Golf Club
The youngest of Melbourne’s Sandbelt courses, Huntingdale Golf Club is best known as the home of the Australian Masters, hosting the prestigious tournament 31 times. Huntingdale's fairways have been graced by a weather of prestigious players including 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.
Australian ranking: 52
Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links
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.
Australian ranking: 2
Global ranking: 33
Barnbougle Lost Farm Golf Links
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 boasts 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.
Australian ranking: 5
Global ranking: 40
New South Wales Golf Club
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 fifth and sixth 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 recent addition of a multi-million-dollar practise and training facility further cements NSW Golf Club’s position as one of the leading facilities in Australia.
Australian ranking: 5
Global ranking: 30
The Lakes Golf Club
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 provides daunting hazards on course. The par five fourteenth hole with its famous water carry is the biggest and wildest green on the course, and is a challenge for every golfing level.
Australian ranking: 14
The Royal Adelaide Golf Club
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 third hole is said to be one of the best par fours in the world.
Australian ranking: 10
Kooyonga Golf Club
Consistently rated among top golf courses in Australia, Kooyonga Golf Club has long been recognised for its superb conditioning and playability all year round. The course layout is testing but fair. The late Peter Thomson, after winning the 1972 Australian Open Championship at Kooyonga, probably best described the course from the player’s point of view when he said, “It needs to be played with the head as much as the hands.”
Australian ranking: 25
The Grange Golf Club
One of South Australia’s premier sporting venues, The Grange Golf Club combines two exceptional 18-hole golf courses and was host to both the 2016 and 2019 Women’s Australian Open. Golfing Great Greg Norman said, "Just the name 'The Grange Golf Club' conjures up the most pleasurable and exciting memories; the birthplace of my professional career where I won the West Lakes Classic, my first professional victory. The camaraderie is second to none. It is a club with all the finest Australian traditions of golf and everything that is associated with this wonderful sport we all love. I’m sure everyone who visits this great club will experience the same pleasure."
Australian ranking: 35
Hamilton Island Golf Club
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.
Australian ranking: 44