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Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales Best in State Rankings 2021

18 February, 2021

Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales Best in State Rankings 2021

On the back of publishing our biennial Australian Top 100 last week, it’s now time to focus our attention on the state listings, which are one level below the national chart. This gives us the benefit of being able to cast the spotlight on many of the layouts that miss out on a place at the country’s top table, but are still worthy of recognition within a smaller geographical area.

We begin this exercise in the southeast of Australia with the federal district of the Australian Capital Territory – which is home to the nation’s capital city, Canberra – and the state of New South Wales, within which ACT is enclaved.

We feature five of the courses in ACT and we’ve now extended our coverage in NSW to a Top 100, giving us the opportunity to highlight close to a third of the total number of tracks in the most populous state Down Under.

Australian Capital Territory

The top three positions in the Australian Capital Territory chart remain unaltered, which means the Westbourne course at Royal Canberra is still #1 in our revised table, a position it’s held since we started our state listings for Australia six years ago.

Originally laid out by John Harris in the 1960s to a plan devised by James Herd Scott twenty years earlier, the course was extensively remodelled by Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead when this company was a design ensemble a few years ago, before Mike Clayton joined forces with Mike DeVries and Frank Pont. OCCM rebuilt greens and bunkers, removed trees and remodelled a number of holes.

Royal Canberra Golf Club - Westbourne course

This is what a recent reviewer had to say after playing here: “the new renovation brought a modern touch to a classic layout at Royal [by] opening the fairways, as well as adding strategic bunkers and amping up the green complex contours… the renovation solidified RCGC as a course with natural beauty and a classic Australian design, something that is quite unique to the Oceania region.”

There is one new entry at #4 and it’s the course at Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club, situated 18 kilometres north of the capital, which is owned and operated by the Ainslie Group, one of Canberra’s leading hospitality companies. Unveiled in 1996, it was co-designed by Ted Parslow and Jamie Dawson of Enviro Links Design, with Dawson returning a decade later to add new bunkers, upgrade tees with stone wall abutments and install new cart paths.

Click the link to see full details of our latest ACT Top 5 rankings.

New South Wales

There’s been quite a shake-up in our New South Wales listings, with most of the action taking place in the bottom half of the new table, where we’ve added another forty courses to create a Top 100. But first, looking at the other end of the chart, there’s very little movement within the first twenty places. Indeed, more than half the courses remain in the same position, including the state #1, New South Wales Golf Club in Botany Bay National Park.

New South Wales Golf Club

Designed by Alister MacKenzie back in the 1920s and refined down the years by a succession of architects, including Eric Apperly, Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge, Greg Norman and Bob Harrison, “La Perouse” (as the course is known locally) has recently benefitted from Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team reworking a number of the holes, most notably the par three 6th.

The following remarks were made in a post a few months back: “the location of La Perouse on the northern cliff-top side of Botany Bay is to Sydney what Pebble is to Carmel, California… New South Wales is right at the top of the surprisingly meagre architecturally significant offerings on the Sydney golf scene. You will not be disappointed by a day spent in its warm embrace.”

The most significant upward move near the top of the chart is the two-place advance of Bonnie Doon Golf Club's course at Pagewood to #7. The club is the third oldest in Sydney but its course is a relative youngster, having been created shortly after World War II when a relocation took place due to the expansion of the city airport. The aforementioned design firm of OCCM completed a 4-stage renovation a few years back and the results of this extensive upgrade are now reflected in the course’s upward trajectory in the rankings.

Bonnie Doon Golf Club

Rising sixteen to #22 (and also a new entry in our national Top 100), the Hilltop course at Mollymook Golf Club is another big climber in our NSW standings. The club was formed in the early 1950s with a 9-hole layout but it decided to fashion a new 18-hole layout within a nearby eucalyptus forest in the 1970s when expansion of its original Beachside course provide impractical. Featuring kikuyu fairways, bent greens, and water on almost half the holes, the Hilltop’s a tidy track that demands respect.

Mollymook Golf Club - Hilltop course

The course at Killara Golf Club progresses twelve places to #24. Founded at the end of the 19th century, the club moved to its present location just a few years after its formation, becoming what’s believed to be the first in Australia to own its own course in 1906. Englishman John Harris redesigned the layout in the mid-1960s and Harley Kruse has just completed a renovation, rebuilding greens and fairway bunkers, reversing a couple of holes and removing a significant number of trees.

Killara Golf Club

Another double-digit chart improvement (up ten to #29) is made by the course at Duntryleague Golf Club in Orange, which Eric Apperly and the club’s professional designed back in the 1930s. A Latvian landscape architect was hired shortly after World War II to devise an agronomy masterplan for the club so there are now some wonderful tree species to be found in the grounds of the estate that the course occupies.

Duntryleague Golf Club

Situated next to the Murray River, Corowa Golf Club (up thirteen to #45) have been in operation since 1903, when it started out as a basic 9-hole set-up with sand scrape putting surfaces. After moving in 1928 to Corowa Common, Al Howard redesigned what had become an 18-hole layout during the mid-1950s and another nine holes were brought into play twenty-five years later. In more recent times, a 35-room motel was added to the list of club amenities but, to top it all, a 58-seat boutique cinema became another of the club’s visitor attractions in 2018.

Corowa Golf Club

The last big mover of note is the Gangurru course at Riverside Oaks Golf Club, progressing eleven spots to #48. The original layout at an enterprising 36-hole facility, the Gangurru is somewhat overshadowed these days by the new Bob Harrison-designed Bungool course which opened five years ago but a bunker refurbishment carried out around the same time on the Gangurru has reignited thoughts of the glory days when it hosted three editions of the Australian PGA Championship at the end of the 1980s.

Gangurru course at Riverside Oaks Golf Club

The highest entry made by the many newcomers to our expanded NSW chart is the Captains course at Tocumwal Golf & Bowls Club, which arrives at #40. The club was formed in the 1950s, using former Australian Air Force property to build an initial 9-hole layout. This became the 18-hole Presidents course in the 1970s, before former Australian Amateur champion Kevin Hartley laid out the Captains course in the early 1990s.

Rank/ Course Move
1 New South Wales No change
2 Ellerston No change
3 The Lakes Up 1
4 Newcastle Down 1
5 Australian No change
6 Magenta Shores No change
7 Bonnie Doon Up 2
8 Concord No change
9 Royal Sydney Down 2
10 Bonville International Up 1
11 Elanora Up 1
12 The Vintage Down 2
13 Terrey Hills No change
14 Riverside Oaks (Bungool) No change
15 Avondale No change
16 Stonecutters Ridge No change
17 Pacific Dunes No change
18 St Michael's No change
19 Narooma Up 1
20 Murray Downs Up 15
21 Twin Creeks Down 2
22 Mollymook (Hilltop) Up 16
23 Macquarie Links Down 2
24 Killara Up 12
25 Castle Hill Down 3
26 Yarrawonga Mulwala (Murray) Down 1
27 Kooindah Waters Down 1
28 Cobram Barooga (Old) Up 9
29 Duntryleague Up 10
30 Monash Down 2
31 Ocean Shores CC No change
32 Horizons Down 2
33 Long Reef Down 4
34 Pymble Down 11
35 Manly Down 8
36 Tocumwal (Presidents) Up 5
37 Mount Broughton Up 8
38 Cypress Lakes Down 14
39 Forster Tuncurry (Tuncurry) Down 5
40 Tocumwal (Captains) New entry
41 Belmont Down 1
42 Murwillumbah Down 7
43 Lakeside GC Camden Down 11
44 Coolangatta & Tweed Heads (River). Down 1
45 Corowa (1-18) Up 13
46 Rich River (East) New entry
47 Cromer New entry
48 Riverside Oaks (Gangurru) Up 11
49 Yarrawonga Mulwala (Lake) Up 3
50 Rich River (West) New entry
51 Tallwoods Down 18
52 Liverpool Up 3
53 Wollongong Down 11
54 Port Macquarie Down 1
55 Coffs Harbour (The Lakes) New entry
56 Tura Beach Up 1
57 Pennant Hills New entry
58 The Coast Down 12
59 Thurgoona New entry
60 Coolangatta & Tweed Heads (West) Down 13
61 Forster Tuncurry (Forster) New entry
62 Byron Bay Down 11
63 Catalina (1-18) New entry
64 Pambula-Merimbula New entry
65 Mona Vale Down 16
66 Cobram Barooga (West) New entry
67 Port Kembla New entry
68 Moruya New entry
69 Hawks Nest Down 13
70 Nambucca Heads Island New entry
71 Moore Park New entry
72 Ryde-Parramatta New entry
73 Eastlake Down 13
74 Penrith New entry
75 Queanbeyan New entry
76 Oatlands New entry
77 Moss Vale New entry
78 Lynwood New entry
79 Narrandera New entry
80 Nelson Bay (Championship) Down 30
81 Bankstown Down 33
82 Coomealla New entry
83 The Links Shell Cove New entry
84 The Springs Down 40
85 Roseville Down 31
86 Shelly Beach New entry
87 The Ridge New entry
88 Cabramatta New entry
89 Bermagui New entry
90 Hunter Valley New entry
91 Bowral New entry
92 Commercial Albury New entry
93 Cumberland New entry
94 Warringah New entry
95 Carnarvon New entry
96 Wentworth Falls New entry
97 Highlands GC New entry
98 Wagga Wagga New entry
99 Brighton Lakes New entry
100 Bondi Golf & Diggers New entry

Click the link to see full details of our latest New South Wales Best in State rankings.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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