Australia's Top 100 Public Access Golf Courses - 2006
2006 COURSE 2005
1 BARNBOUGLE DUNES nr
2 KENNEDY BAY 2
3 THE DUNES 3
4 LAGUNA - TURTLE POINT 1
5 JOONDALUP 4
6 BROOKWATER 5
7 MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS 8
8 HOPE ISLAND 6
9 MOONAH LINKS - OPEN 11
10 BONVILLE 9
11 THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH 7
12 BARWON HEADS 10
13 PORTSEA 13
14 LAKELANDS 12
15 GLADES 15
16 COOLUM 17
17 VINTAGE 14
18 CLUB PELICAN 18
19 PARADISE PALMS 16
20 THE VINES - LAKES 26eq
21 THE CUT nr
22 MURRAY DOWNS 32eq
23 THIRTEENTH BEACH - CREEK nr
24 CAPRICORN INTERNATIONAL - NEW 28
25 THE CAPE 29
26 SORRENTO 36
27 ROBINA WOODS 19
28 HORIZONS 20
29 HORSHAM 35
30 MEADOW SPRINGS 22
31 LINKS LADY BAY 41
32 TWIN WATERS 23
33 PACIFIC DUNES nr
34 NORTH LAKES 21
35 YARRAWONGA - MURRAY Top 100
36 CRANBOURNE 38eq
37 TOCUMWAL - PRESIDENTS Top 100
38 SHEPPARTON Top 100
39 NOOSA SPRINGS 25
40 LONG REEF 44
41 ROSEBUD - NORTH 43
42 NAROOMA Top 100
43 SECRET HARBOUR 24
44 PORT FAIRY 45
45 CYPRESS LAKES 30eq
46 CAMDEN LAKESIDE 26eq
47 LINKS (Port Douglas ) 37
48 GROWLING FROG nr
49 ALICE SPRINGS Top 100
50 ST MICHAEL'S 32eq
Top 100 ALBANY Top 100
Top 100 ANGLESEA Top 100
Top 100 ARALUEN Top 100
Top 100 BEACONHILLS - HILLS nr
Top 100 BELMONT Top 100
Top 100 BONNIE DOON Top 100
Top 100 BRIBIE ISLAND Top 100
Top 100 CAPRICORN INTERNATIONAL - OLD Top 100
Top 100 COBRAM BAROOGA - OLD 49
Top 100 COBRAM BAROOGA - WEST Top 100
Top 100 COFFS HARBOUR nr
Top 100 THE COLONIAL Top 100
Top 100 COROWA nr
Top 100 EAGLE RIDGE 50
Top 100 FEDERAL 46eq
Top 100 FLINDERS Top 100
Top 100 GAINSBOROUGH GREENS nr
Top 100 GISBORNE Top 100
Top 100 INDOOROOPILLY - EAST Top 100
Top 100 KEPERRA Top 100
Top 100 KINGSTON LINKS 46eq
Top 100 KOORALBYN VALLEY Top 100
Top 100 LAKES ENTRANCE Top 100
Top 100 LEONGATHA Top 100
Top 100 LIVERPOOL nr
Top 100 LONSDALE Top 100
Top 100 MILLICENT Top 100
Top 100 MOLLYMOOK - HILLTOP Top 100
Top 100 MORNINGTON Top 100
Top 100 MT BROUGHTON nr
Top 100 NELSON BAY Top 100
Top 100 OCEAN SHORES Top 100
Top 100 PALM MEADOWS 34
Top 100 QUEENSCLIFF Top 100
Top 100 RANFURLIE 40
Top 100 RICH RIVER - EAST Top 100
Top 100 RIVERSIDE OAKS Top 100
Top 100 ROSEBUD - SOUTH Top 100
Top 100 ROYAL HOBART 38eq
Top 100 ROYAL PINES Top 100
Top 100 SANCTUARY COVE - THE PALMS Top 100
Top 100 TASMANIA 42
Top 100 THE VINES - ELLENBROOK 48
Top 100 THURGOONA Top 100
Top 100 TOCUMWAL - CAPTAINS Top 100
Top 100 TOOWOOMBA nr
Top 100 TUGGERAH LAKES Top 100
Top 100 TURA BEACH Top 100
Top 100 WARRNAMBOOL Top 100
Top 100 YOWANI Top 100
Australia's Top 100 Public Access Rankings - A NEW No. 1 !!
from Selwyn Berg, Editor of The Golf Course Guide
Barnbougle Dunes a true, windswept coastal links created by Tom Doak and Mike Clayton amongst pristine sand dunes on Tasmania ’s Northern coastline has stormed to the Number 1 position on debut in our 2006 Course Rankings. A testament to the vision and tenacity of Greg Ramsay, and the support of landowners Richard and Sally Sattler, Barnbougle stunned our judges with a brilliant, natural design and glorious aesthetics. Voted best design and best aesthetics, the new course also ranked a very creditable 8th for course conditioning, aided by its unusual adoption of a seamless, single fescue-rich grass mix for tees, fairways and greens. Already hailed as “the finest and most genuine links experience in the Southern Hemisphere” (Paul Daley – Golf Architecture, A Worldwide Perspective Vol 3) it remains to be seen how the course settles in, and how it will be judged on a world stage. But our advice is to go play it for yourself, all our top courses are far better than American golf publications would have the world think.
Other new courses on this year’s list are The Cut (No. 21) a stunning design by Jim Wilcher set right on the Oceanfront of the WA Golf Coast an hour South of Perth; The Creek Course, Thirteenth Beach at Barwon Heads VIC (No. 23) designed by Nick Faldo and Tony Cashmore; Pacific Dunes (No. 33) also by Jim Wilcher near Port Stephens and Growling Frog (No. 48) designed by Graham Marsh 30k North of Melbourne. Liverpool, Mt Broughton, Coffs Harbour , Gainsborough Greens, Toowoomba, Corowa and Beaconhills – Hills are established tracks that did not appear on our lists in 2005, whilst at least 20 more courses narrowly missed the Top 100 places based on our judges opinions.
As might be expected, there are few changes in our list of Best Designed courses for 2006. Apart from the new courses above, previously unranked courses to appear on the list include Lakes Entrance and Shepparton. These and other changes in the Design rankings most likely reflect the make up of our Panel of judges this year, and our ongoing effort to ensure that judges use common criteria, and that their scores are standardised to account for any particular leniency or harshness in scoring.
There is rather more movement in the list of Best Conditioned courses. Our judges have visited courses throughout the year and will be influenced largely by course presentation at the time of their visit, although they may consult with colleagues who have played the course at different times. Lakelands on the Gold Coast has reclaimed the top spot from Moonah Links – Open Course, although barely one point (out of 40) separated the top dozen courses on conditions. Noteworthy improvements in course conditioning were observed at Bonville, with their new greens now nicely mature, at Murray Downs, The Vines – Lakes Course, The Cape and Tocumwal – Presidents Course.
Aesthetics is probably the most difficult category to pin down, and certainly produces the greatest differences of opinion between our judges. Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Noteworthy improvers for 2006 include Port Fairy, up from 16th to 9th, and both courses at Moonah Links. Coolum, Alice Springs, Belmont , Albany and Horsham are all new to the Top 25 list on aesthetics. Some courses may have dropped down this list as a result of construction activities on site.
As always, we recognise the subjective nature of our rankings, and suggest their use as a guide only. In particular, by presentation of essentially three lists, we attempt to guide users to those courses that they will find most pleasing – whether their preferences are for design strategy, immaculate playing surfaces, or simply beautiful surroundings. The choices are many and splendid – enjoy!
THE GOLF COURSE GUIDE 2006 - HOW THE LIST WAS COMPILED
The Golf Course Guide has published a list of Australia ’s best Public Access Courses every year since 2001. Our list differs from those found in other publications in some important aspects. Clearly, we are focussed only on those courses that encourage green fee players (see details under “what are public access courses”). Our judges have a range of ages and golfing abilities and are instructed to reward course designs that cater for golfers of every level. We strive for transparency in our methodology, with clear criteria, and we offer separate lists based on course design, conditions and aesthetics to enable readers to select courses that will most readily appeal to their own preferences.
Panellists were asked to score only courses they had played. They were asked to rank courses from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ in each of the three categories – design, conditions and aesthetics. Colleagues who play certain courses frequently were consulted to more accurately assess year round conditions.
Course Design (40% weighting): How each hole presents an enjoyable, even thrilling challenge to golfers of all abilities from scratch markers to high handicappers and shorter hitters. The variety of different holes that make up the course, and the variety of shots that they require. The strategic design of each hole - where hazards come into play, reward for risk takers plus the existence of a safer/easier option, maybe with an additional stroke, for those who choose not to take the risk.
Courses with two separate 18s considered as two courses; where 27 holes available, the “best” 18 selected.
Course Conditions (40% weighting): Year round playing conditions (from best to worst season) and course maintenance of greens (greatest weighting), fairways, tees, rough and hazards.
Course Aesthetics (20% weighting): The obvious beauty of the setting and also that very subjective quality of ambience and tranquillity that allows the golfer to lose himself in his environment. For some golfers, the thrill of playing golf in a stunning (eg coastal clifftop) environment can far outweigh lacklustre design strategy, and even mediocre fairway conditions. For these players, our allocation of only 20% weighting will seem inadequate, and they should seek out courses from our Best Aesthetics list, rather than the overall rankings.
The rankings from individual judges were then converted into scores with the above weightings. Finally, any spurious ‘high’ or ‘low’ scores were omitted prior to averaging.
To be considered for this list courses must be available for play by public, green fee paying golfers for most of the year. Courses available only to members, Interstate or overseas visitors, or holders of official handicaps are excluded. The list includes:
Public Courses – often owned by city councils, these courses have no members and are available to anyone who pays a green fee and conforms to a few simple requirements such as dress codes and owning or hiring a set of clubs. Sometimes an associated “club” is able to book blocks of tee times.
Resort Courses – privately owned, usually of high standard, with additional facilities on site such as accommodation and dining.
Private Courses – most golf courses throughout Australia are private clubs. An annual fee, and often a joining fee, is required, and members then do not usually pay green fees. Most clubs have tee times when the public may pay green fees and play the course, sometimes including club competition times. Such courses are considered “public access” in this Guide if they permit green fee players several days per week.
Other clubs are more exclusive, requiring guests to be introduced by a member, or permitting unaccompanied non-members access only if they are club members visiting from interstate or overseas. These courses are excluded from this list. One or two private courses accessible to in-house guests elected to be excluded.
George Begg is the golf writer for Star Newspapers. A member at Altona Lakes and Werribee Park Golf Clubs, handicap 16, he is the Secretary of the Australian Golf Writers Association.
Selwyn Berg is the Managing Editor of ausgolf and the Editor and Publisher of The Golf Course Guide. Handicap of 13 at Commonwealth.
Jeff Blunden oversees the Golf Advisory Group for Ernst & Young and is also
on the Golf Digest rankings panel. He is a member at Boonie Doon, playing
off a handicap of 7.
Graeme Bond covers golf on Melbourne Radio 3AW. A member at Riversdale with a handicap of 12 that he attributes to the number of rounds that he plays at The National.
Rohan Clarke is a Senior Writer for Australian Golf Digest. His handicap is 8 at Beverley Park, Sydney .
Michael Court is a Forestville journalist who plays his golf at Roseville Golf Club on Sydney ’s north shore, where his current handicap is 11.
Archie Fraser has been involved with several golf course developments, and has spent many years playing golf based in Victoria and Queensland . Currently a member at Lakelands with a handicap of 8.
Brendan James is the Editor of Golf Australia Magazine where he
travels extensively to review and photograph courses. His handicap is 5 at
Steve Keipert is the Editor of Australian Golf Digest, a role that takes him to golf courses across Australia . His handicap is 7 at Wakehurst Golf Club, Sydney.
Garry Kennedy is Editor and Publisher of Hacker Golf Quarterly and General Manager of The Golf Course Guide. His current handicap is 12 at Heidelberg .
Michael King is a member at The Grand and Kingston Heath, handicap 11.
Jonathan McCleery is a golf author and investor who plays off 9 at Riversdale.
Peter Nolan is a keen golfer who plays off 7 at Rosanna.
Geoff Roach writes for The Advertiser, Adelaide after a career covering golf on radio and TV nationally and internationally since the 1972 US Open at Pebble Beach . A member of Kooyonga playing off 9.
Leon Wiegard is an honorary member of the PGA ( Australia ) and MD of Sportgard, organisers of corporate golf and tours. Handicap 10 at Commonwealth.
David Worley is a member at Commonwealth, Sorrento and Moonah Links who plays off 11