|2013 RANK||COURSE||2012 RANK|
|1||BARNBOUGLE DUNES GOLF LINKS||1|
|2||BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM||2|
|4||JOONDALUP - QUARRY/DUNES||5|
|6||MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS||4|
|8||ST ANDREWS BEACH||10|
|9||THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH||11|
|12||MOONAH LINKS - OPEN||9|
|13||HAMI LTON ISLAND||18|
|21||CAPRICORN - CHAMPIONSHIP||23|
|24||SANCTUARY COVE - PINES||28|
|26||THE VINES - LAKES||25|
|34||SANCTUARY COVE - PALMS||26|
|35||THIRTEENTH BEACH - NORTH||33|
|42||KOOINDAH WATERS||Top 100|
|44||PALMER GOLD COAST (ROBINA)||32|
|53||YARRAWONGA - MURRAY||Top 100|
|54||LINKS LADY BAY||Top 100|
|56||SECRET HARBOUR||Top 100|
|57||EAGLE RIDGE||Top 100|
|58||YERING MEADOWS - NURSERY||Top 100|
|59||ROSEBUD - NORTH||Top 100|
|61||NORTH LAKES||Top 100|
|63||CAMDEN LAKESIDE||Top 100|
|64||ROYAL PINES - GREEN/GOLD||Top 100|
|65||OCEAN SHORES||Top 100|
|67||COBRAM BAROOGA - OLD||Top 100|
|68||THE VINES - ELLENBROOK||nr|
|70||PALMER SEA REEF||Top 100|
|71||CRESWICK FOREST||Top 100|
|72||PALM MEADOWS||Top 100|
|73||LONG REEF||Top 100|
|74||CYPRESS LAKES||Top 100|
|77||KINGSTON BEACH||Top 100|
|81||TOCUMWAL - CAPTAINS||Top 100|
|85||GOLD CREEK||Top 100|
|86||BRIBIE ISLAND||Top 100|
|87||MOLLYMOOK - HILLTOP||Top 100|
|88||ROSEBUD - SOUTH||Top 100|
|89||GROWLING FROG||Top 100|
|90||TOCUMWAL - PRESIDENTS||Top 100|
|93||PALMER COLONIAL||Top 100|
|95||CAPRICORN - RESORT||nr|
|96||MT BROUGHTON||Top 100|
|98||TURA BEACH||Top 100|
|99||COBRAM BAROOGA - WEST||nr|
Note: This year we have given course rankings from 1 to 100. In previous years we ranked only 1 to 50, with the next 50 courses listed alphabetically as ‘Top 100’ courses.
No surprises at the top of our list this year, with the Barnbougle twins firmly entrenched as the nation’s two best Public Access Courses, winning handsomely for brilliant architecture, stunning visuals and great playing surfaces. A couple of our panel favoured the design or visuals at Lost Farm over Barnbougle Dunes, but the majority had the latter ahead on points, and felt that playing conditions were slightly superior.
It is worth noting that the Barnbougle courses ranked just behind the immaculately groomed Joondalup and Moonah Links in the Best Conditions category – whilst ‘perfect’ playing surfaces are ‘nice’, they are not essential for a good ranking – it’s all about how enjoyable the course is to play, and how the conditions complement the golf. For links golf we judge firm bouncy fairways and greens to be highly desirable.
The Dunes, with the addition of two new holes on recently-acquired land, designed to further improve the quality of its already much-acclaimed routing, retained third place – overall and in the coveted ‘Design’ category. So both our No 2 and No 3 courses offer 20 holes of golf – but at The Dunes only 18 in a single round, whereas Lost Farm’s two extra holes are routed for inclusion in a regular round of golf.
Joondalup (No 4) ranked Best Conditions this year, always a thrilling place to play golf, especially on the ‘Quarry Nine’, and Kennedy Bay (No 5) WA’s best links layout, edged out the Legends Course at Moonah Links (No 6).
St Andrews Beach, the brilliant design work of Tom Doak on the Mornington Peninsula, just across Bass Strait from his Tasmanian masterpiece, and now under new ownership that has restored playing surfaces to former glory ranked No 8 (with an impressive No 4 for Design) – just behind the classic layout at Barwon Heads (No 7) which received the nod from our Panel for superior Conditioning and Aesthetics.
Peter Thomson’s Hamilton Island Golf Course improved its ranking to No 13 with its stunning ocean views now supported by maturing fairways.
Perennial favourite Portsea slipped slightly with minor course interruptions caused by club house building works. Some land has been sold for housing, and we are yet to see how this will fully impact playing aesthetics.
Port Fairy has been elevated to No 23 this year, possibly belatedly, as the magic of this natural seaside setting is both subtle and beautiful. The golf is of the highest quality on surfaces which are ideally suited, yet not artificially constructed nor planted.
Meadow Springs, now ranked No 27 may well have been unlucky to tumble in last year’s rankings.
There are a few new entrants (these are marked nr = not ranked in 2012) and the unlucky near misses – courses including Liverpool, Belmont and Yowani, plus courses where I’ve personally enjoyed wonderful golf – Kingston Links, Millicent and Gainsborough Greens. It really does emphasize just how blessed we are with Australia’s depth of Public Access Golf, and how tiny are some of the margins in our rankings.
Last year we reported on the decline at Laguna, and now this course, ranked No 2 in 2004, has closed. Hopefully golf will again be played on that great site. Despite this loss, it is fair to say that green fee golfers have never been presented with a grander selection of wonderful courses. Some of the new ones near the top of the list are world class – 9 of the top 10 didn’t exist two decades ago. Additionally, the long drought is over, and well-drained courses throughout the land are in superb condition – unfortunately a few ‘clay belt’ courses have suffered.
Note: This year we have given course rankings from 1 to 50. In previous years we ranked only 1 to 25, with the next 25 courses listed alphabetically as ‘Top 50’ courses.