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South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia Best in State Rankings 2019

13 February, 2019

South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia Best in State Rankings 2019

This is the second of three news releases related to the revision of our regional rankings in Australia. We’ve already reported on the updated charts for Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales and we’ll publish our new listings for Queensland and Victoria in our next Australian announcement.

For now, we’re concentrating on South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, where we maintain Top 10 tables for the first two regions and have just added another five courses to Western Australia, creating a Top 25 for the largest state in the nation.

South Australia

The course at Royal Adelaide remains the top track in South Australia but, truth be told, holding onto the number 1 spot in the state was something of a given for a layout that not only recently climbed two places in the national chart to number 9, it was also one of twelve new entries in the last edition of our World Top 100.

The club moved to its current position in 1904, when Cargie Rymill and club secretary C.L. Gardiner laid out a course that was then redesigned by Alister MacKenzie during his famous tour of Australia in 1926. The design firm Thomson, Wolveridge and Perret looked after the property for almost four decades, starting in the early 1970s, until Mike Clayton was called in to conduct a 5-year renovation in 2008.

Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm has carried out further work on the course and these improvements largely explain Royal Adelaide’s impressive advance in the rankings. Our New Zealand correspondent Matt Richardson visited just a couple of months ago, saying the course is “a masterful lesson in understatement… every single hole has one or two little features that completely set the tone for strategy and game play... simply put, it makes you think.”

The only climber in the state listings is the West course at The Grange Golf Club (rising 1 to number 3), which lies immediately to the northwest of the Royal Adelaide property. Vern Morcom set out both the 18-hole layouts at The Grange and it’s the older East course that some might remember as the venue for Greg Norman’s first professional victory in 1967. Mike Clayton renovated the West course in advance of the Women’s Australian Open in 2016 and the event returns there this week.

There’s one new entry (at number 9) in our South Australian listings and it’s the course at Victor Harbor Golf Club, situated an hour’s drive south of Adelaide on the Fleuriue Peninsula. Founded back in 1911, the club’s initial 9-hole layout was designed by Rufus Stewart and it’s since been extended and modified by Tom Rymill, Wayne Dale and, more recently, Neil Crafter.

This is a terrific, old-fashioned track featuring one of the most exhilarating 1st hole tee shots to be found on a golf course anywhere, with the opening drive played from a bluff down to a tree-lined fairway a hundred feet below.

To view further details of the South Australia Top 10rankings click the link.


The isolated island state of Tasmania lies off the southern coast of Australia, separated by the Bass Strait, and the main island of Tasmania is home to most of its population of half a million people. With only around fifty courses in operation around the state, who would have thought at the start of the new millennium that three new additions to the golfing landscape would now be ranked among the best in the world?

The courses atBarnbougle Dunes (still at number 1) and Barnbougle Lost Farm(down one to number 3) sit next to each other among the towering dunes that stretch out along the northern coastline of the main island in Tasmania, next to the small town of Bridport.

The spectacular Dunes course debuted first in 2004, co-designed by Mike Clayton and Tom Doak, with the Bill Coore-designed Lost Farm appearing a few years later. The Barnbougle layouts are now firmly ensconced near the top of the national rankings and placed well within our World Top 100.

Our International correspondent David Davis described the Dunes course when he played there as possibly “Tom Doak’s best effort in design,” with it having “the absolutely perfect, dramatic links landscape and sandy ground.”

Fergal O’Leary, our US Consultant, also visited the Barnbougle complex, commenting that Lost Farm was “more playable than the Dunes course, which is definitely the tougher challenge,” terming it “a big course with big fairways and big greens.”

It was always going to take a remarkable course to split the highly regarded pair at Barnbougle but that’s exactly what the 18-hole layout at Cape Wickham has now done as it rises one spot to number 2. Located 330 kilometres northwest of Bridport on King Island, this is a Mike Devries design (built in collaboration with author Darius Oliver) which has been catapulted onto the global golf stage.

As Tom Doak states in Volume V of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses : “No course has made a bigger splash on the world scene in the past five years than Cape Wickham, sitting in the middle of the Bass Strait between Melbourne and Tasmania… It’s not an easy place to get to, and not for those who fear small planes and bumpy flights, but Cape Wickham is well worth the effort. It’s one of the wildest places in golf, and in a world growing ever more conformist, that’s a very good thing.”

Another King Island course is a new entry at number 7 in our Tasmanian Top 10 and it’s the links layout at King Island Golf & Bowling Club, which dates back to 1938. The course comprises twelve greens and eighteen different tee boxes, with an 18-hole round consisting of three par threes, twelve par fours and three par fives on a layout extending to 5,475 meters – that might seem quite short but when the wind gets up, as it very often does here, it’s more than long enough.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Barnbougle Dunes No change
2 Cape Wickham Up 1
3 Barnbougle Lost Farm Down 1
4 Ocean Dunes No change
5 Tasmania No change
6 Royal Hobart No change
7 King Island New entry
8 Kingston Beach Up 1
9 Ulverstone Down 1
10 Devonport Down 3

To view further details of the Tasmania Top 10rankings click the link.

Western Australia

The Championship course at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, which was designed by Alex Russell and opened for play in 1930, is still the number 1 golfing layout in our state standings for Western Australia. Mike Clayton extensively renovated the course not that long ago, totally rebuilding all the greens and bunkers during a major makeover, and it’s hosted a number of important competitions since then, including the World Super 6 Perth, the latest edition of which is staged there this week.

Just a few weeks ago, reviewer Peter Wood gave this 5-ball endorsement to the course: “Perhaps this is the quintessential Aussie course with its genuine bush setting, large eucalyptus trees, black boys, and kangaroos roaming… Lake Karrinyup would be a great starting point for international visitors wanting to see a top quality Australian course in a classic bush setting, and should be part of any West Australian golf expeditions.”

Only six courses improve their position in our revised table and the most prominent of these is The Links Kennedy Bay layout at Port Kennedy (up one to number 2), which is a late 1990s collaboration between Michael Coate, Roger Mackay and Ian Baker-Finch. Perhaps a review posted only yesterday best sums up the experience of playing here: “The wind can change this course in a matter of minutes, depending on the time of day you may end up playing with the wind from three different directions… The greens are large, fast and true, the fairways are well manicured and the bunkers well placed… This is Australian links golf at its best.”

Another couple of 18-hole layouts make significant 3-place upward moves within the Top 10: the first one is the early 1990s Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed course at Meadow Springs Golf & Country Clubin Mandurah (at #5), which “has a nice selection of short par fours, doglegs, longer holes, and some impressive water holes”; and the second one is the Bob Green and Murray Dawson 1970s co-design at Sun City Country Club in Yanchep (at #10), where Mike Clayton’s OCCM design company has been carrying out upgrade work since 2012.

The highest new entry at number 17 is the delightful 9-hole seaside setup at Binningup, around thirty kilometres north of Bunbury, called Lakewood Shores. It’s a mid-1980s Michael Coate design that was mentioned in the aforementioned Confidential Guide to Golf Courses book, having been played a while back by Darius Oliver, who wrote of it having “uncluttered holes arranged in a single loop through gently moving sand dunes and with pleasant coastal outlooks… It developed a following for the quality of its nine holes, along with its ‘honesty box’ green fee system and the fact the course was managed – well – by a single green keeper… Binningup certainly ranks as one of Australia’s best 9-hole courses.”

We'd like to thank Peter White for persuading us to extend our course coverage in Western Australia.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Lake Karrinyup (Championship)No change
2 Kennedy Bay Up 1
3 Joondalup (Quarry & Dune) Down 1
4 The Cut No change
5 Meadow Springs Up 3
6 Kalgoorlie Down 1
7 Western Australian Down 1
8 Mount Lawley Down 1
9 Cottesloe No change
10 Sun City Up 3
11 Vines (Lakes) Down 1
12 Secret Harbour Down 1
13 Royal Fremantle Down 1
14 Araluen Up 1
15 Royal Perth Down 1
16 Albany No change
17 Lakewood Shores New entry
18 Mandurah Up 1
19 Kwinana New entry
20 Gosnells New entry
21 Nedlands New entry
22 Bunbury Down 5
23 Wanneroo New entry
24 Sea View New entry
25 Vines (Ellenbrook) Down 7

To view further details of the Western Australia Top 25rankings click the link.

We actively seek feedback every time we re-rank regional charts so please let us know if you have any strong views on either of the three featured in this Australian release. Whether it’s to let us know about a course we’ve mistakenly missed or one we’ve undeservedly included, by all means get in touch. Whatever you’re thinking, if you’d like to share your opinion 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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