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Australia’s Top Public Access Courses

The GOLF Course Guide has featured a list of courses available for Green Fee Play for almost two decades, and coined the term 'public access' to describe these courses. Recently, Golf Australia Magazine has published a bi-annual Top 100 ranking of its own, based largely on readers' input and using very similar criteria:

GCG Criteria: 40% Design, 40% Conditions, 20% Aesthetics
GA Criteria: 50% Design, 40% Conditions, 10% Visuals

Interestingly, GA include 'memorability' under Design, whereas GCG would consider this aesthetic. Importantly, for golfers who do not necessarily agree with the above weightings, The GOLF Course Guide publishes separate lists for each criteria.

Here are the latest lists with our comments below:

2017 GCG COURSE 2017
GA
1 CAPE WICKHAM 1
2 BARNBOUGLE DUNES 2
3 BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM 3
4 THE DUNES 11
5 ST ANDREWS BEACH 5
6 KENNEDY BAY 7
7 JOONDALUP - QUARRY/DUNES 10
8 BARWON HEADS 6
9 THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH 8
10 BONVILLE   9
11 MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS 13
12 NEWCASTLE 12
13 MAGENTA SHORES hotel
14 HAMILTON ISLAND 15
15 LINKS HOPE ISLAND 17
16 MOONAH LINKS - OPEN 23
17 THE CUT 16
18 KALGOORLIE 43
19 BROOKWATER 14
20 GLADES 30
21 THIRTEENTH BEACH - CREEK 24
22 PORTSEA 18
23 PACIFIC HARBOUR 28
24 PELICAN WATERS 21
25 PACIFIC DUNES 26
26 SANCTUARY COVE - PINES hotel
27 STONECUTTERS RIDGE 22
28 LAKELANDS 27
29 CAPE SCHANCK 64
30 CAPRICORN - CHAMPIONSHIP 50
31 PORT FAIRY 25
32 MEADOW SPRINGS 20
33 NOOSA SPRINGS 66
34 SANCTUARY COVE - PALMS 44
35 TASMANIA 59
36 LINKS LADY BAY 58
37 THE VINTAGE 19
38 HORSHAM 94
39 ST MICHAEL'S 36
40 CRANBOURNE excluded
41 THE VINES - LAKES 34
42 SETTLERS RUN excluded
43 SANCTUARY LAKES 31
44 MURRAY DOWNS 52
45 CLUB MANDALAY 93
46 ROYAL PINES - GREEN/GOLD 69
47 PARADISE PALMS 63
48 RANFURLIE 47
49 HERITAGE - ST JOHNS hotel
50 TWIN WATERS 39
51 PALMER GOLD COAST (ROBINA)  98
52 RIVERSIDE OAKS - BUNGOOL 35
53 BALLARAT 73
54 ALICE SPRINGS 87
55 EYNESBURY 37
56 BLACK BULL 57
57 NAROOMA 29
58 PALMER COOLUM 53
59 MURWILLUMBAH 79
60 HERITAGE - HENLEY hotel
61 PALMER SEA REEF (SEATEMPLE) 60
62 KOOINDAH WATERS 48
63 FLEURIEU nr
64 CURLEWIS 42
65 LONG REEF 33
66 CAMDEN LAKESIDE nr
67 ROYAL HOBART 90
68 FEDERAL 46
69 SECRET HARBOUR   56
70 ROSEBUD - NORTH 71
71 EAGLE RIDGE 68
72 FLINDERS 84
73 ARALUEN nr
74 PALM MEADOWS 61
75 SANDS TORQUAY hcp reqd
76 SHEPPARTON nr
77 WIRRINA COVE nr
78 YARRAWONGA - MURRAY 55
79 YERING MEADOWS - NURSERY prefer Homestead - 95
80 WARRNAMBOOL 54
81 COBRAM BAROOGA - OLD 88
82 GROWLING FROG 82
83 OCEAN SHORES 86
84 PORTARLINGTON nr
85 GARDINERS RUN nr
86 WOLLONGONG nr
87 DUNTRYLEAGUE 89
88 MOLLYMOOK - HILLTOP 81
89 FORSTER-TUNCURRY - TUNCURRY nr
90 MONA VALE 67
91 TALLWOODS nr
92 ULVERSTONE nr
93 PATTERSON RIVER nr
94 COPPERCLUB at the  DUNES nr
95 LEONGATHA 65
96 TOCUMWAL - PRESIDENTS nr
97 CYPRESS LAKES 97
98 THE VINES - ELLENBROOK 78
99 THE COAST 49
100 NORTH LAKES 83

Whilst the Top three courses are undisputed, the most obvious difference at the top of the lists is that GA ranked Ocean Dunes at #4, whereas the course was not fully playable when the GCG ranking period closed in August 2016.

As with previous comparisons the GCG judges regard THE DUNES more highly, and likewise JOONDALUP, KALGOORLIE, NOOSA SPRINGS,  LINKS LADY BAY and HORSHAM.  GA have excluded MAGENTA SHORES, SANCTUARY COVE and HERITAGE as a hotel stay is required to play, but strangely also CRANBOURNE and SETTLERS RUN where there is plenty of Public Access and SANDS TORQUAY where a handicap is a requirement.

Highly ranked by GA but not included in The Guide's list include SUN CITY (#45), SANDHURST - CHAMPIONS (#62) considered as Private by GCG, BELMONT (#70), WATERFORD VALLEY (#72), INDOOROOPILLY – EAST (#74), EASTLAKE (75), COOLANGATTA – RIVER (76), YARRAWONGA – LAKES (77), BRIBIE ISLAND (80), ALBANY (85), COOLANGATTA – WEST (91), BYRON BAY (92), RIVERSIDE OAKS – GANGURRU (96), SANDRINGHAM (99)