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Australia's Top 100 Golf Courses - Golf Digest 2004

From Golf Digest Magazine, March 2004

2004 Golf Digest Top 100 Comment - by Selwyn Berg

The all-new Golf Digest Top 100 rankings have been released with plenty of movement at both ends of the list from the previous survey in 2002. This year the magazine employed a nation-wide policy with judges able to score courses outside their home state for the first time ever. The panel was also trimmed with golf course designers and non-single figure players removed. The results are a significant change from previous lists and make for intriguing reading.

The most significant and highly ranked newcomer is Kerry Packer's Ellerston course which entered the Top 100 at No. 4 out performing such classics as Royal Adelaide(5), Metropolitan(6) and Victoria(9). Other significant debuts are Moonah Links Open Course at 13, Brookwater at 19, Peninsula North (remodelled by Mike Clayton) at 25, Thirteenth Beach at 34 and The Vintage at 41. North Lakes 75, Mollymook Hilltop 83, Narooma 90, Ranfurlie 95, Cypress Lakes 96 and Belmont 98 are all courses that did not appear in 2002, although some have appeared prior to that.

Major jumps up the list go to Lake Karrinyup (14 to 7), Newcastle (20 to 10), Joondalup (28 to 21), Heritage (48 to 32), Pelican Waters (86 to 36 and clearly hard done by in the past), Royal Queensland (62 to 50), Monash (92 to 66), Port Fairy (95 to 70) and Cape Schanck (83 to 60). Karrinyup is a major surprise – a course beautifully presented for championship play, and a wonderful members’ course, but often described as a “hooker’s course” and not in the top 20 for mine. Heritage, Joondalup and Cape Schanck are all fine, enjoyable courses with great aesthetics and superb conditioning that place them high up on other scales, but their ranking by Digest’s criteria seems a little high.

Not so lucky are The Lakes (6 to 16), Royal Sydney (11 to 17), Hope Island (16 to 24), Commonwealth (19 to 27), The Glades (17 to 28), Sanctuary Cove Pines (26 to 39), Yarra Yarra (31 to 43), Lakelands (29 to 46), Mt Lawley (25 to 49 ), Tasmania (33 to 57), and Royal Hobart (30 to 68) a big fall for two long-time stalwarts of the list. Digest Editor Rohan Clarke explains The Lakes’ demise by quoting a judge who finds ‘too many dodgy holes’. This is fair enough – but what has gone wrong at Commonwealth other than conditioning that is not a huge factor or at Yarra Yarra which has never been in better condition?

Significant departures from the top 100 include Kingswood (formerly 58) which has been under reconstruction and perhaps was not considered ready, although there are serious concerns with the new holes as well; Bunbury (formerly 70), Cranbourne (formerly 74 and in great condition), Ocean Shores (formerly 87), Mount Broughton (formerly 88) and Southern (formerly 89) and unlucky as its revamped layout is in fine condition. Cobram-Barooga and Palm Meadows have also dropped out of the Top 100.

Whilst the better players will have found fault with resort courses like Lakelands and Twin Waters (67 to 42), it’s difficult to understand the demise of Commonwealth, Yarra Yarra, Cranbourne and Southern in these terms. I would have expected Woodlands (23 to 31) to have been better treated by the new panel.

No public access course appears in the top 10, with Kennedy Bay (12) best placed as also ranked by The Golf Course Guide. The Guide uses criteria with more emphasis on course playability for average golfers, conditioning and aesthetics, but even taking this into account there are some highly ranked public access tracks that didn’t impress Golf Digest. Portsea, Bonville and Thirteenth Beach were rated Top 10 public access but are 40, 42 and 34 on Digest’s list. Other comparisons are Horsham 52 (22), Murray Downs 55 (20), Paradise Palms 61 (14), North Lakes 75 (24), and Capricorn New 64 (26) – with Guide rankings in brackets. With the Digest policy of ranking composite layouts (Royal Melbourne, The Vines) I would have thought the best 18 at Rosebud Country Club might have been Top 100 material. Others to miss entirely are Long Reef (39) and Kingston Links (41).

Enjoy this years list, always a great source of healthy debate and controversy, and please send any feedback to info@ausgolf.com.au.

AUSTRALIA'S TOP 100 GOLF COURSES

2004 2002 COURSE

1 1 Royal Melbourne, Vic
2 2 Kingston Heath, Vic
3 3 New South Wales
4 - Ellerston, NSW
5 5 Royal Adelaide, SA
6 4 Metropolitan, Vic
7 14 Lake Karrinyup, WA
8 9 The National (Moonah), Vic
9 8 Victoria
10 20 Newcastle, NSW
11 7 The Australian, NSW
12 10 The Golf Club Kennedy Bay, WA
13 - Moonah Links (Open), VIC
14 13 Kooyonga, SA
15 12 Royal Canberra (Championship), ACT
16 6 The Lakes, NSW
17 11 Royal Sydney, NSW
18 15 Laguna Whitsundays (Turtle Point), QLD
19 - Brookwater, QLD
20 22 The National (Old), Vic
21 28 Joondalup (Quarry-Dune), WA
22 18 The Vines (Composite), WA
23 24 The Dunes, Vic
24 16 Hope Island, QLD
25 - Peninsula (North), Vic
26 21 Terrey Hills, NSW
27 19 Commonwealth, Vic
28 17 The Glades, QLD
29 35 Grange (west), SA
30 37 Barwon Heads, Vic
31 23 Woodlands, Vic
32 48 The Heritage (St. John), VIC
33 39 Concord, NSW
34 - Thirteenth Beach (Beach), VIC
35 27 Secret Harbour, WA
36 86 Pelican Waters, QLD
37 32 Hyatt Regency Coolum, QLD
38 41 Huntingdale, Vic
39 26 Sanctuary Cove (pines), QLD
40 34 Portsea, Vic
41 - The Vintage, NSW
42 49 Bonville, NSW
43 31 Yarra Yarra, Vic
44 36 Meadow Springs, WA
45 40 The National (Ocean), Vic
46 29 Lakelands, QLD
47 43 Horizons, NSW
48 52  The Grand, QLD
49 25 Mount Lawley, WA
50 62 Royal Queensland, QLD
51 60 The Links Lady Bay, SA
52 45 Horsham, Vic
53 54 Grange (east), SA
54 63 St Michael's, NSW
55 53 Murray Downs, NSW
56 38 Peninsula (South), Vic
57 33 Tasmania
58 - Macquarie Links, NSW
59 79 Alice Springs, NT
60 83 Cape Schanck, Vic
61 46 Paradise Palms, QLD
62  44 Camden Lakeside, NSW
63 69 Araluen, WA
64 47 Capricorn (New), QLD
65 65 Arundel Hills, QLD
66 92 Monash, NSW
67 42 Twin Waters, QLD
68 30 Royal Hobart, Tas
69 66 Indooroopilly (west), QLD
70 95 Port Fairy, VIC
71 82 Castle Hill, NSW
72 51 Kooralbyn Valley, QLD
73 71 Cottesloe, WA
74 61 Spring Valley, Vic
75 - North Lakes, QLD
76 81 Millicent, SA
77 85 Lakes Entrance, VIC
78 90 Yarrawonga (murray), NSW
79 64 Federal, ACT
80 76 Sorrento, Vic
81 78 Bonnie Doon, NSW
82 55 Yowani, ACT
83 - Mollymook (Hilltop), NSW
84 84 Warnambool, Vic
85 59 Long Island, Vic
86 77 Robina Woods, QLD
87 57 Links Port Douglas, QLD
88 56 Sun City, WA
89 75 Noosa Springs, QLD
90 - Narooma, NSW
91 67 Albany, WA
92 68 Great Lakes Tuncurry, NSW
93 80 Glenelg, SA
94 72 Tallwoods, NSW
95 - Amstel (Ranfurlie), VIC
96 - Cypress Lakes, NSW
97 73 Royal Pines (East), QLD
98 - Belmont, NSW
99 87 Ocean Shores, NSW
100 93 Killara, NSW

Click here for the 2002 Ranking List of Australia's Top 100 Golf Courses