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 recent lists with our comments below:
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)