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Golf Course Guide Top 100 Courses 2019

The GOLF Course Guide presents the most comprehensive assessment of where to play golf in Australia – with separate lists showing how our judges ranked the candidates in each of three key criteria: Design, Conditions and Aesthetics. "As always, courses must be available for green fee players most of the year. The list includes all Public Courses; all Resort Courses (with accommodation on site - ranked separately), and many Private Members Clubs.

Overall Rankings - see below

Design Rankingsclick here
Conditions Rankings - click here
Aesthetics Rankingsclick here

 

2019 RANK COURSE 2018 RANK
1 CAPE WICKHAM 1
2 BARNBOUGLE DUNES 2
3 BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM 3
4 THE DUNES 4
5 ST ANDREWS BEACH 5
6 KENNEDY BAY 6
7 BARWON HEADS 8
8 JOONDALUP - QUARRY/DUNES 7
9 OCEAN DUNES 12
10 BONVILLE   10
11 THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH 9
12 NEWCASTLE 14
13 MAGENTA SHORES 13
14 MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS 11
15 HAMILTON ISLAND 15
16 LINKS HOPE ISLAND 16
17 THE CUT 19
18 MOONAH LINKS - OPEN 17
19 PORTSEA 24
20 SANCTUARY COVE - PINES 25
21 MEADOW SPRINGS 32
22 GLADES 18
23 PORT FAIRY 29
24 KOORALBYN 28
25 BROOKWATER 21
26 RIVERSIDE OAKS - BUNGOOL 61
27 PACIFIC DUNES 22
28 KALGOORLIE 20
29 PACIFIC HARBOUR 23
30 STONECUTTERS RIDGE 36
31 PELICAN WATERS 31
32 ARUNDEL 27
33 LAKELANDS 30
34 CAPE SCHANCK 34
35 THIRTEENTH BEACH - CREEK 26
36 SANCTUARY COVE - PALMS 37
37 LINKS LADY BAY 50
38 NOOSA SPRINGS 35
39 ST MICHAELS 45
40 CAPRICORN  33
41 SANCTUARY LAKES 41
42 SETTLERS RUN 39
43 CRANBOURNE 51
44 TASMANIA 49
45 SUN CITY 95
46 BLACK BULL 63
47 MURRAY DOWNS 44
48 THE VINTAGE 46
49 THE VINES - LAKES 48
50 ROYAL PINES - GREEN/GOLD 42
51 CURLEWIS 74
52 NAROOMA 57
53 BALLARAT 52
54 RANFURLIE 53
55 TWIN WATERS 47
56 MOUNT COMPASS 59
57 HERITAGE - ST JOHNS 40
58 HORSHAM 55
59 CLUB MANDALAY 38
60 SANDHURST - CHAMPIONS 54
61 PARADISE PALMS 56
62 PALMER GOLD COAST (ROBINA)  60
63 SECRET HARBOUR   64
64 LEONGATHA 97
65 KOOINDAH WATERS 62
66 MURWILLUMBAH 65
67 FLINDERS 72
68 ALICE SPRINGS 43
69 HERITAGE - HENLEY 66
70 EYNESBURY 58
71 ROSEBUD - NORTH 69
72 ROYAL HOBART 82
73 PORTARLINGTON 78
74 MAROOCHY RIVER (HORTON PARK) nr
75 LONG REEF 68
76 SHEPPARTON 77
77 WARRNAMBOOL 87
78 COBRAM BAROOGA - OLD 89
79 PALMER SEA REEF 70
80 FORSTER-TUNCURRY - TUNCURRY 92
81 PALM MEADOWS 79
82 SANDS TORQUAY 80
83 YARRAWONGA - MURRAY 88
84 HORIZONS 84
85 FEDERAL 67
86 PALMER COOLUM 71
87 COPPERCLUB/THEDUNES 94
88 DUNTRYLEAGUE nr
89 YERING MEADOWS - NURSERY 83
90 THE VINES - ELLENBROOK 98
91 ARALUEN 75
92 CAMDEN LAKESIDE 76
93 OCEAN SHORES 91
94 ULVERSTONE 99
95 MOLLYMOOK - HILLTOP nr
96 TOCUMWAL - PRESIDENTS nr
97 SANDHURST - NORTH 73
98 EAGLE RIDGE 81
99 ROSEBUD - SOUTH nr
100 WOLLONGONG 100


Cape Wickham links on King Island, Tasmania has held top spot on our rankings list since first opening three years ago, and with conditioning continuing to improve might seem secure. All our judges awarded top marks for visuals, but interestingly judges were evenly split between Barnbougle Dunes #2 and Cape Wickham for best design with Barnbougle narrowly taking the coveted honour in this category. Lost Farm remained at #3, so Tasmania is once again home to our top 3 public access courses. In fact, Lost Farm took over the best conditioning spot from Barnbougle Dunes, our judges continuing to enjoy the firm, fast running fescue surfaces.

The next three courses all retained their 2018 rankings - The Dunes and St Andrews Beach on the Mornington Peninsula and Kennedy Bay in WA. Barwon Heads moved up one spot overall to #7, our judges noting a significant improvement in conditioning (from #12 to #4 in this category) as new works settle in.

Ocean Dunes moved up three places to #9. We ranked this seaside links on King Island at #6 for design and #5 for visuals, but our judges felt that conditioning still has some way to go.

Other significant changes within our top 20 were Portsea #19 up from 24 and Sanctuary Cove – Pines #20 also up 5 places, each course judged more favourably for conditioning than last year. Similarly our panel noted improved grooming at Meadow Springs which made an impressive jump of 11 places to #21.

Port Fairy, a small budget course on Victoria’s coastline moved up 6 slots to #23. The course is well regarded for its design and the beautiful coastal setting.

Riverside Oaks – Bungool recorded an impressive jump to #26 this year as more of our judges were able to visit and appreciate the Bob Harrison design and improvements in course conditioning.

Links Lady Bay up 13 places to #37, Cranbourne up 9 spots to #43, Sun City jumping a mammoth 50 places to #45 and Black Bull up 17 places to #46 all benefitted from our judges taking the opportunity to evaluate and appreciate their design strengths this season.

New entrants to our Top 100 this year included Maroochy River, a new Graham Marsh design on the Sunshine Coast #74, and the Rosebud South course at #99 whilst Duntryleague #88, Mollymook Hilltop #95 and Tocumwal Presidents #96 returned after narrow misses last year.

Mona Vale, Wirrina Cove, Gardiners Run, Patterson River and Growling Frog were the unlucky courses to drop from the 2018 list.

Minor changes to our judging panel, the courses they visited through the year or the timing of their visits all affect the outcome, so as always we recommend that our readers use these lists for guidance only.


HOW THE LISTS WERE COMPILED

The GOLF Course Guide established a numerical course ranking system in 1998 and was the first Australian publication to do that.

The Guide’s criteria are

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 to test every facet of your game. The strategic design of each hole - where hazards come into play, reward for risk takers that is in proportion to the degree of risk, with an easier subsequent shot as a reward, and a more difficult shot or possibly an additional stroke for those who choose not to take the risk.

Courses that offer higher handicappers an exciting yet manageable test will find themselves rated better in this Guide, and courses that are really only playable by low markers will be ranked lower. Courses with two separate 18s considered as two courses; where 27 holes available, the “best” 18 selected.

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 to test every facet of your game. How well the course exploits the ‘best’ set and sequence of holes the land offers, and how well the routing takes the golfer on a journey of discovery. The strategic design of each hole - where hazards come into play, reward for risk takers of an easier subsequent shot, with a more difficult shot or possibly an additional stroke for those who choose to play safely.

Courses that offer higher handicappers an interesting yet manageable test will find themselves rated better in this Guide, and courses that are really only playable by low markers will be ranked lower. 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, roughs 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.

Judges scores are mathematically adjusted to account for any particular harshness or leniency and spurious results are eliminated.
Panellists were asked to score only courses they had played. Colleagues who play certain courses frequently were consulted to more accurately assess year round conditions. The judging period is from September 2017 to September 2018.

Where we really deliver on our objective to ‘guide’ readers to courses they will enjoy is by publishing three distinct lists – rankings by Design, Conditions and Aesthetics – allowing readers effectively to select their own criteria and weightings. For some golfers, the thrill of playing golf in a stunning 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 JUDGES

The GOLF Course Guide would like to thank long serving judge George Begg. This is the first year since our inaugural Course Rankings that the dedicated former Secretary/Treasurer of the Australian Golf Media Association has not contributed. George resigned from our panel due to ill health and we gratefully acknowledge his many years of contributions.

Selwyn Berg
The Managing Editor of ausgolf and the Editor and Publisher of The Golf Course Guide. Handicap 13, member at Commonwealth.

Scott Blair-West
A member at Spring Valley and The National, current handicap is 5. He enjoys golf travel in Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

Graeme Bond
Reported golf on Fairfax/Macquarie Radio for 20 years, finally finishing up at the end of 2016. He has played a huge amount of golf on courses both here in Australia and overseas – particularly in the USA (Nevada is a favourite destination). A member at the National, handicap 7.

Tyson Flynn
Handicap 15, a member at Howlong and a writer and panelist for several golfing publications.

Graham Holmes
A member at Commonwealth and Royal Hobart, handicap 8. He travels the world extensively playing golf.

Loren Justins
Handicap 5, member at Royal Queensland and has played at many international courses during extensive work travel.

Steve Keipert
Has worked in the golf media for the past 18 years and is the only golf writer to ever work on-staff at both Australian Golf Digest and Golf Australia. Currently the associate editor at Australian Golf Digest, his handicap is 6 at Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club.

Garry Kennedy
The General Manager of The GOLF Course Guide and Editor of Hacker Golf Magazine. Member at Howlong, current handicap 16.

Alan Kohler
Member of Southport and Arundel Hills, handicap 15. Has played extensively in most states of Australia, USA and Asia. Keen student of the rules and lover of natural environment courses.

Jonathan McCleery
Plays off a handicap of 6. Golfing author, golf course investor and former Riversdale Club captain.

Peter Nolan
A keen golfer handicap 9, member at Rosanna. He maintains his love for the game, despite the fact that the game steadfastly refuses to love him back!

Steve O'Hara
Handicap 13, enjoys playing new and different golf courses and fortunately, has been aided in this by living in every state in Australia. He's also travelled and golfed in over 50 different countries.

Kevin Pallier
A panellist for a number of golfing publications, playing golf extensively throughout every Australian State and Territory. He is a member at Wollongong Golf Club with a handicap of 12.

Andrew Thomson
Handicap 5, is a member of Brisbane Golf Club and has travelled extensively nationally and internationally playing great golf courses.

Leon Wiegard
A Life member Portsea, Patron Clifton Springs, member Commonwealth, and international golf tour organiser. Handicap has blown to 17 (lowest was 8).

David Worley
A member at Commonwealth, Sorrento and Moonah Links, handicap 11. Author of comprehensive books on British Links.