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Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales Best in State Rankings 2019

11 February, 2019

Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales Best in State Rankings 2019

We revised our Australian Top 100 a few months ago, however, due to other pressing commitments, we never got round to the follow up task of fully updating our state level listings Down Under. Better late than never, of course, so here’s the first of three reports relating to our revamped regional rankings for Australia.

We focus on two territories in the southeast of the country, namely the federal district of the Australian Capital Territory – home to the nation’s capital, Canberra – and the state of New South Wales, within which ACT is enclaved. There are only ten golf clubs located in ACT and we feature five of their courses, while sixty of NSW’s three hundred and fifty golf facilities are also listed.

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra, the Australian capital, is the only city located within ACT and all five courses in our regional chart are situated less than an easy half hour drive from the city centre. The Westbourne course at Royal Canberra is still the top track in our amended listings, a position consolidated by the renovation work carried out in recent times by the Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead design company.

Originally designed back in the early 1960s by Englishman John Harris, who fashioned dozens of courses around the world during his career, the Westbourne course was virtually reconstructed by Mike Clayton’s firm in 2016, when encroaching trees were removed and all the greens and bunkers were rebuilt to give the layout a new lease of life.

Gunghalin Lakes Golf Club in the northern suburb of Nicholls drops out of our Top 5, replaced by the course at Queanbeyan Golf Club, which lies to the south east of the capital. The 2019 NSW Women’s Open is being held there next month and the club has benefitted from $1.2 million in government funding to improve facilities both on and off the course, “taking the facility from a well-loved community asset to a state-of-the-art regional sports venue” according to Golf Australia.

To view further details of the ACT Top 5 rankings click the link.

New South Wales

Two years ago, we doubled the size of our New South Wales standings to fifty and we’ve now added a further ten tracks to the new 2019 edition. A third of these sixty NSW courses are also ranked nationally so that indicates the relatively strong status of a golfing region that extends to more than three hundred and fifty golf facilities across Australia’s most populous state.

New South Wales Golf Club remains at the summit of the NSW state standings which is no real surprise as it’s one of nine Australian courses occupying a place within our World Top 100 at number 39. Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary visited a couple of years ago and was very concerned to learn the green of the iconic par three 6th was due to be relocated, due to health and safety considerations for non-golfers using a public footpath next to the hole.

Fergal’s updated post from a few weeks ago indicates things might not be as bad as he’d first been led to believe: “Tom Doak is currently contracted to perform the changes and is well on his way to completion. In the end, the green has been moved 10-15 feet closer to the water, which isn’t a bad thing. The trick is trying to keep some fairway on the approach since the hole often plays downwind and a ball that lands on the green is hard to stop.”

Positions 2 to 5 are also unaltered in our latest NSW listings so the first chart movement occurs at number 6, with the Ross Watson-designed course at Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club easing its way up one notch from the number 5 slot. Situated along the Central Coast, on a sandy spit separating Tuggerah Lake from the Pacific Ocean, this links-like layout has been softened a little since debuting in 2006 to make it more playable but it’s still a terrific test of golf for the stay and player golfers who tee it up here.

Climbing five places to number 7, the course at Concord Golf Club was originally laid out by Dan Soutar more than a hundred years ago. Wishing to improve on a Ross Watson renovation carried out in the late 1990s, the club engaged Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm in 2017 to modernise and update the layout. Tom’s senior associate Brian Slawnik oversaw the project, the main thrust of which was the reconstruction of all eighteen greens.

Bonnie Doon Golf Club rises three to number 9. Located twenty-five kilometres southeast of Concord, on the other side of Sydney, it’s another old club that’s chosen to have its golf course radically upgraded. Mike Clayton’s design company started a four-phase redesign on the property back in 2011 and the fourth stage of this extensive makeover was only completed a few months ago so expect this course to rise further when all the changes are bedded in.

Further down the listings, three 18-hole layouts make significant progress within the new chart.

The first of these is at Murwillumbah Golf Club (up eight to #35), located close to Wollumbin National Park, where the Mount Warning mountain peak is ever-present during the round. The second climber is Tocumal Golf & Bowls Club’s Presidents course (up seven to #41), which is just one element of a 36-hole multi-sport complex located on the Murrray River. The third impressive rise is made by the River course at Coolangatta & Tweeds Head Golf Club (up seven to #43). Founded in 1927, the club has operated four nines since 1981, with the two circuits forming the River layout regarded as the 18-hole course of first choice.

The highest new entry arrives at number 42 and it’s the course at Wollongong Golf Club, which sits to the south of Sydney on a narrow coastal strip between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. The club was formed in 1897 and generations of members have played on the same site ever since, with the original 9-hole course developing into the 18-hole track that’s in play today. The layout has changed over the years to accommodate developments such as a sewage treatment plant to the south and a sports ground to the north but essentially it has occupied the same beachfront location for over 120 years.

Rank/ Course Move
1 New South Wales No change
2 Ellerston No change
3 Newcastle No change
4 Lakes No change
5 Australian No change
6 Magenta Shores Up 1
7 Royal Sydney Down 1
8 Concord Up 5
9 Bonnie Doon Up 3
10 Vintage Down 2
11 Bonville International Down 2
12 Elanora Down 1
13 Terrey Hills Down 3
14 Riverside Oaks (Bungool) Up 2
15 Avondale Down 1
16 Stonecutters Ridge Up 1
17 Pacific Dunes Down 2
18 St Michael's No change
19 Twin Creeks No change
20 Narooma No change
21 Macquarie Links Up 3
22 Castle Hill Up 1
23 Pymble Up 4
24 Cypress Lakes Up 10
25 Yarrawonga (Murray) Up 1
26 Kooindah Waters Down 4
27 Manly Down 6
28 Monash Down 3
29 Long Reef Up 1
30 Horizons Up 1
31 Ocean Shores CC Down 3
32 Camden Lakeside No change
33 Tallwoods Down 4
34 Forster Tuncurry (Tuncurry) Up 3
35 Murwillumbah Up 8
36 Killara Up 2
37 Cobram Barooga (Old) Up 4
38 Mollymook (Hilltop) Down 5
39 Duntryleague Up 3
40 Belmont Down 5
41 Tocumwal (Presidents) Up 7
42 Wollongong New entry
43 Coolangatta & Tweed Heads (River) Up 7
44 The Springs No change
45 Mount Broughton Down 6
46 The Coast Down 10
47 Coolangatta & Tweed Heads (West) New entry
48 Bankstown New entry
49 Mona Vale Down 4
50 Nelson Bay New entry
51 Byron Bay Down 5
52 Yarrawonga (Lake) New entry
53 Port Macquarie Down 6
54 Roseville Down 5
55 Liverpool Down 15
56 Hawks Nest New entry
57 Tura Beach New entry
58 Corowa New entry
59 Riverside Oaks (Gangurru) New entry
60 Eastlake New entry

To view further details of our latest NSW Top 60 rankings, click the link.

We’re always keen to know what you think of re-ranking exercises like this so feel free to tell us if there’s a layout we’ve overlooked or there’s one that maybe shouldn’t be included. Perhaps we’ve listed one too high in the charts or left one lying too low? Whatever your opinion is, if you’d like to share it then please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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