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Australia's Top 100 Golf Courses

According to Golf Magazine - November, 2003

Golf Magazine Top 100 comment - by Darius Oliver

The proliferation of the golf course ranking list in this country has continued with Australia's Golf Magazine releasing its own version of the Top 100 this week. Strategically released a few months prior to the better known Golf Australia, Golf Course Guide and Golf Digest rankings this inaugural Top 100 is certain to spark a stack of controversy and wide spread debate.

Royal Melbourne assumes its rightful position atop the list, although disappointingly its the composite course rather than East and West, which is ranked. Kingston Heath, Royal Adelaide and New South Wales follow before the fun really starts.

As one colleague commented 'if rankings are designed to be controversial then this one has achieved its aims - although it appears that aside from the first few places, the remaining courses have been listed randomly'.

As with any list the Golf Magazine ranking relies on a large panel of experts, this year featuring professional golfers like Steve Allan, Ossie Moore, Geoff Ogilvy and Nick O'Hern, architects Tony Cashmore, Ross Perrett, Ross Watson and Neil Crafter, writers such as Andrew Berkman, George Begg and Bernie Pramberg and celebrities Wilbur Wilde, Ian Healy and John Blackman. As previously stated their results make interesting reading.

The Hard Luck Stories

Every poll has hard luck stories and there are several in this list including a most bizarre ranking of 69 for Sandbelt classic Woodlands, which must leave members and club officials baffled. Not only is the course an absolute standout but in recent years course conditions have been close to perfect. For many this rank will do most to hurt the panel's credibility.

Woodlands though isn't the only established club to suffer the indignity of a sharp drop in its ranking position with traditional Sandbelt favourites Yarra Yarra (51) and Commonwealth (32) also experiencing the wrath of judges. That 50 courses in Australia are perceived as better than Yarra (and 31 better than Commonwealth) says something about the current strength of our industry.

Also on the nose, for this panel anyway, are Sydney standards The Australian (19), The Lakes (24) and alarmingly Royal Sydney (30). Despite being a judge it appears that the recent Ross Watson changes at Rose Bay have not gone down well with Golf magazine.

Other seemingly hard done by courses include the Trent Jones masterpiece National Old which comes in at 39 and several places behind its neighbour, the much debated National Ocean course. Peninsula North at 54 can also feel aggrieved with its revised layout now well and truly among the nation's best, although its possible most of this panel had not seen the recent Mike Clayton changes. Peninsula South, the clubs more celebrated layout, missed out entirely on the Top 100 which is truly baffling.

Finally, coming in at a disappointing 68 is the ultra-exclusive Capital Golf Club in Melbourne, the ranking unlikely to raise too many eyebrows for the fact that most golfers haven't seen the course. Though not Melbourne's best course, Capital is a fine layout with some quality long holes and a great set of par threes - the course is also immaculate and as conditioning is one of the criteria used by judges this position (assuming the judges actually saw the course) is baffling.

The Surprises

The most significant observation or statement made by the judging panel was the superior standard of Australia's modern courses, particularly resort tracks, in relation to the bulk of our established classic courses. A host of surprises litter the rankings with National Moonah's startling rise to number 5 in Australia after just three years something well and truly worth shouting about.

Also worthy of high praise are the Joondalup Resort (10) and this year's Australian Open venue Moonah Links which, despite failing to win over most critics, has slipped in at a lofty 12 on the ranking. Also faring especially well are the Queensland resorts of Brookwater, Hyatt Coolum and Hope Island which all make the Top 16.

Further down the list little known and picturesque Toowoomba Golf Club can be well pleased with its position of 60 (nine places ahead of Woodlands!), while The Heritage in Melbourne will no doubt be rapt to have placed 22nd and well ahead of other Victorian courses like The Dunes, Portsea, Barwon Heads and Commonwealth (and of course Woodlands at 69!).

Ranking lists are always welcome on ausgolf and usually among our more popular pages, please enjoy this rather unique list and feel free to send any feedback you have to


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