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Australia's Top 100 Golf Courses - 2013

2013 RANK COURSE 2012 RANK
1 BARNBOUGLE DUNES GOLF LINKS 1
2 BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM 2
3 THE DUNES 3
4 JOONDALUP - QUARRY/DUNES 5
5 KENNEDY BAY 6
6 MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS 4
7 BARWON HEADS 7
8 ST ANDREWS BEACH 10
9 THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH 11
10 MAGENTA SHORES 8
11 THE CUT 12
12 MOONAH LINKS - OPEN 9
13 HAMI LTON  ISLAND 18
14 BROOKWATER 15
15 BONVILLE   17
16 HOPE ISLAND 16
17 PORTSEA 13
18 PACIFIC HARBOUR 14
19 PELICAN WATERS 20
20 GLADES 21
21 CAPRICORN - CHAMPIONSHIP 23
22 PALMER COOLUM 19
23 PORT FAIRY 41
24 SANCTUARY COVE - PINES 28
25 KALGOORLIE 27
26 THE VINES - LAKES 25
27 MEADOW SPRINGS 46
28 LAKELANDS 24
29 PACIFIC DUNES 34
30 HORSHAM 29
31 SORRENTO 30
32 THE VINTAGE 31
33 RANFURLIE 35
34 SANCTUARY COVE - PALMS 26
35 THIRTEENTH BEACH - NORTH 33
36 NOOSA SPRINGS 44
37 EYNESBURY 36
38 TASMANIA 37
39 ST MICHAEL'S 40
40 NAROOMA Top 100
41 ALICE SPRINGS 47
42 KOOINDAH WATERS Top 100
43 TWIN WATERS 43
44 PALMER GOLD COAST (ROBINA)  32
45 PARADISE PALMS 42
46 CAPE SCHANCK 38
47 CRANBOURNE Top 100
48 MURRAY DOWNS 39
49 CURLEWIS 50
50 BALLARAT Top 100
51 SANDS TORQUAY 48
52 ROYAL HOBART 45
53 YARRAWONGA - MURRAY Top 100
54 LINKS LADY BAY Top 100
55 ARALUEN Top 100
56 SECRET HARBOUR   Top 100
57 EAGLE RIDGE Top 100
58 YERING MEADOWS - NURSERY Top 100
59 ROSEBUD - NORTH Top 100
60 FEDERAL Top 100
61 NORTH LAKES Top 100
62 WARRNAMBOOL Top 100
63 CAMDEN LAKESIDE Top 100
64 ROYAL PINES - GREEN/GOLD Top 100
65 OCEAN SHORES Top 100
66 SHEPPARTON Top 100
67 COBRAM BAROOGA - OLD Top 100
68 THE VINES - ELLENBROOK nr
69 HORIZONS Top 100
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
75 DUNTRYLEAGUE nr
76 ALBANY Top 100
77 KINGSTON BEACH Top 100
78 SUN CITY nr
79 FLINDERS Top 100
80 TALLWOODS Top 100
81 TOCUMWAL - CAPTAINS Top 100
82 LYNWOOD Top 100
83 ULVERSTONE Top 100
84 BUNBURY nr
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
91 KEPERRA  Top 100
92 MANDURAH nr
93 PALMER COLONIAL Top 100
94 COAST (THE) nr
95 CAPRICORN - RESORT nr
96 MT BROUGHTON Top 100
97 LONSDALE Top 100
98 TURA BEACH Top 100
99 COBRAM BAROOGA - WEST nr
100 MIRAGE 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.

Best Design

2013  RANK COURSE 2012 RANK*
1 BARNBOUGLE DUNES 1
2 BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM 2
3 THE DUNES 3
4 ST ANDREWS BEACH 4
5 KENNEDY BAY 6
6 THIRTEENTH BEACH - BEACH 8
7 MOONAH LINKS - LEGENDS 5
8 BARWON HEADS 10
9 JOONDALUP - QUARRY/DUNES 7
10 MAGENTA SHORES 9
11 THE CUT 12
12 PORTSEA 11
13 MOONAH LINKS - OPEN 15
14 GLADES 14
15 HOPE ISLAND 18
16 HAMILTON ISLAND Top 50
17 THE VINES - LAKES 20
18 PELICAN WATERS 16
19 BROOKWATER 17
20 PACIFIC HARBOUR 13
21 CAPRICORN - CHAMPIONSHIP 21
22 SANCTUARY COVE - PALMS 19
23 KALGOORLIE 22
24 PORT FAIRY Top 50
25 BONVILLE   25
26 SANCTUARY COVE - PINES Top 50
27 PALMER COOLUM 23
28 PACIFIC DUNES Top 50
29 MEADOW SPRINGS Top 50
30 THIRTEENTH BEACH - CREEK Top 50
31 RANFURLIE Top 50
32 HORSHAM Top 50
33 CRANBOURNE nr
34 SECRET HARBOUR   Top 50
35 EYNESBURY Top 50
36 LINKS LADY BAY Top 50
37 PARADISE PALMS Top 50
38 THE VINTAGE Top 50
39 HORIZONS Top 50
40 SORRENTO Top 50
41 ST MICHAEL'S Top 50
42 KOOINDAH WATERS nr
43 TASMANIA Top 50
44 NOOSA SPRINGS Top 50
45 NAROOMA nr
46 ALICE SPRINGS nr
47 PALMER GOLD COAST (ROBINA)  Top 50
48 TWIN WATERS Top 50
49 LAKELANDS Top 50
50 MURRAY DOWNS Top 50

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.