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​Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia 2017

26 October, 2016

Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia 2017

We present the third revision of our ranking chart for Australia

Top 100 Golf Courses published its first Australia Top 100 chart in May of 2010 so this is the third biennial revision of those rankings. Over the last six years, we’ve managed to establish links with several authoritative golfing sources Down Under so we’re confident that this latest edition of our Australian standings is the most informed that you will find anywhere.

In fact, such is both the quality and quantity of data now being processed, we’re going to extend the coverage of courses within our Australian state listings over the next few weeks. This expansion means that we’ll soon feature just as many Aussie tracks listed outside the Top 100 as inside so watch out for further state by state announcements as November unfolds.

But first, we present our updated Top 100 chart, where Royal Melbourne (West) remains firmly embedded at the summit. Alister MacKenzie’s celebrated masterpiece has been ranked as the national number 1 since we compiled our first Aussie Top 50 back in 2007 and we think it will take something truly extraordinary to remove this highly strategic layout from its current position.

Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary played the course several times last year during his golf trip to the Melbourne Sandbelt saying that he “appreciated new aspects and nuances each time I played it. It’s a never-ending education… a place of pilgrimage for golfers [where] the holes are as fascinating to look at as they are to play.”

The top three chart positions stay exactly as they were last time around, which means that Kingston Heath holds onto the runner-up slot. Located less than five miles to the east of Royal Melbourne, it’s another course that Dr. MacKenzie advised on during his tour of the famous sandbelt region in 1926 and a recent reviewer called it “a severe test not of brawn but of brain.”

At number 3, Barnbougle Dunes is the foremost of three top Tasmanian tracks which now occupy prominent positions in our new listings. Opened at the start of the new millennium, the course is a Tom Doak/Mike Clayton co-design, with fairways carved through towering coastal sand hills next to the unspoiled beaches of the remote Waterhouse Conservation Area on the island’s northeast coast.

Two courses rise towards the top of the table; the first is New South Wales (up one to number 4), another old Alister MacKenzie design that’s laid out within Botany Bay National Park and the second is Victoria (up four to number 6), a near neighbour of Royal Melbourne which another reviewer described earlier this year as “tremendous fun… and a pretty decent walk over some of the best golfing land in the world”.

Other courses making significant upward moves include a couple of extensive renovations carried out by the Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead design company: Royal Canberra (Westbourne) (up twenty-one to 29) and Bonnie Doon (up thirty-one to 49). Also on the rise is the 18-hole layout at Long Island (up twenty-two to 55), where the club merged with The National Golf Club last year to form the nation’s first 72-hole private membership golf facility.

There are eight new entries in our new chart, the first of which debuts at number 8, which is an extraordinarily high position when you consider it’s only the second course (along with Barnbougle Lost Farm) to break into our Australian Top 10 since it was first established ten years ago. When you also take into account the fact that all of the courses in positions 1 to 7 are currently world ranked, then it can surely be only a matter of time before Cape Wickham is recognised in a similar global context.

Located on King Island in the Bass Strait, midway between Tasmania and Victoria, the course is a Mike DeVries collaboration with author Darius Oliver who, when describing the location in his recent book Modern Masterpieces said: “If not the most beautiful place to play golf in the world, Cape Wickham is certainly on a very short list… King Island isn’t the easiest place to get to, but those of us involved in this project always felt that if the course was good enough then golfers would make the effort. ”

Incredibly, our next new entry also emanates from King Island, where Ocean Dunes comes into our new chart at a very creditable number 35. Opened for play earlier this year, the course lies on a seaside site close to King Island Airport, which is the only means of getting to and from the island because there’s no passenger ferry in operation.

Graeme Grant lost out on purchasing the Cape Wickham site a few years ago so he turned his attention to acquiring another coastal property where he developed and designed this layout. In his new book, Darius Oliver is very generous in praising the new course: “The course may not have as many knockout holes as Cape Wickham, but as a complement to the golf available elsewhere on the island… it’s an attractive golfing option and sure to win plenty of admirers.”

The other five newcomers appear in the lower half of our newly updated table, headed at number 60 by Bob Harrison’s Bungool course at the 36-hole Riverside Oaks Golf Resort in Cattai, northwest of Sydney. Set out in two separate 9-hole sections overlooking the Hawkesbury River, the course is characterised by the rugged bunker style adopted by the architect to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

We’re also aware of an exciting new Greg Norman-designed 27-hole golf complex, the Eastern Golf Club, located in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. The 18-hole South course debuted in October last year, with an additional nine holes opening for play just last month. We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments here in the months ahead.

Another course that just missed out on our national rankings this time is Peninsula Kingswood (South), where the renovations to the course were not completed in time for it to make the cut, but we fully expect the revitalised layout to leap back into the chart next time around. Additionally, since we defined this Top 100 table, the North course at Peninsula Kingswood went under the Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead knife, so its position at #25 is arbitrary and the members are currently playing a composite course at their Peninsula site.


To view further details of the Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia click the link.

We’re always intrigued to find out what you think of newly updated national rankings so feel free to let us know your views of our new chart for this country. Is there a certain course that we’ve omitted or maybe you feel we've included one that doesn’t belong there? Maybe we’ve listed one that’s either far too high or way too low? Whatever your thoughts, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to share your opinion.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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