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​Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia 2019

29 October, 2018

Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia 2019

It’s nearly two years to the day since we published the last edition of our Australian Top 100 so it’s time we presented the latest biennial revision of those standings. We added quite a number of courses to our state listings Down Under during our previous re-ranking exercise so we now feature almost two hundred golfing layouts across the nearly three million square miles comprising the 6th largest country on earth.

We know that Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design company has been very active in the region lately, working on a number of projects in the Melbourne and Sydney metropolitan areas. Some of these course upgrades are reflected in this Top 100 update but others – like Yarra Yarra and National (Ocean) – are still active works in progress so it’ll be a while yet until they have an effect on chart placements.

And so to the 2019 edition of the Australia Top 100, where nine of these courses also reside within our World Top 100, giving a good indication of just how high the golfing bar of excellence has been set near the summit of this national table. The top four layouts all remain in the same position and that means Alister MacKenzie’s highly-lauded West course at Royal Melbourne retains the number 1 slot which it’s held since we compiled our first Australian chart ten years ago.

Our International Correspondent David Davis returned here last year and was glowing in his praise for a course that wasn’t at its best when he had previously visited during an especially dry period: “Royal Melbourne remains the best course on the best property with the strongest routing in Australia and a serious case can be made for it being the best in the world. The West course offers the ultimate variation of holes with literally one strategic hole after another… one of those few courses that are worth a trip across the world for the opportunity to play it.”

Last time around, the course at Cape Wickham on King Island hurtled straight into our Australian chart at number 8 and the ranking fortunes of this new links layout continue on an upward trend as it leaps another three places to number 5. The result of a design collaboration between author Darius Oliver and architect Mike DeVries, this course was visited by our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary in 2017 and afterwards he’d this to say about his playing experience:

”The fairways are generous and the fun is endless. Play it on a typical windy day and you’ll certainly have your hands full… Cape Wickham will overload your imagination like nowhere else, as it’s a guessing game as to how the ball will react once it lands… You have to see it to believe it. I travel the world to see golf like this.”

Another Alister MacKenzie course re-enters the elite Top 10 tier of the listings at number 9, having fallen two places to number 11 when we last updated the chart. Royal Adelaide, which attained its Royal prefix from King George V in 1923, three years before it was re-designed by MacKenzie, was kept under the watchful eye of architects Thomson, Wolveridge and Perret over a 37-year period starting in 1971 but the recent renovation work by Tom Doak has really elevated its status once again.

The first of seven new entries arrives at number 14 and it’s the new private course at Cathedral Lodge in Thornton, Victoria, designed by Greg Norman for owner David Evans. Our Australian Correspondent Kevin Pallier played there shortly after it opened, calling it “probably the most ‘restrained’ Norman design I have seen.” He continued: “Cathedral Lodge moves into a large canyon with a ridge running through it… fairways are very large and many of them are shaped to funnel the ball to specific areas… the designers have used natural creeks to flank and cross in front of or behind many of the holes.”

Another of our globetrotting contributors, Paul Rudovsky, got a game here a few months ago and his comments after playing were as follows: “Overall, I liked the course a lot. Somehow I have the sense that Greg Norman’s architectural style is similar to his play when on Tour… go for broke on every shot when playing and go for broke on every hole when designing. Sometimes that yields phenomenal results, and other times triple bogeys (or their equivalent). On the other hand, great golf courses evolve as they age. And I believe that Cathedral Lodge will do this as well.”

The new links layout at Ocean Dunes on King Island was a newcomer to our Australian listings in 2016 when it entered at number 35 and it now rises an impressive thirteen spots to number 22. Designed by Graeme Grant, once the long-standing course manager at Kingston Heath, this course is highly regarded by our well-travelled raters David Davis and Fergal O’Leary. David thinks it’s “a fantastic course (with) an interesting but extremely challenging routing” while Fergal is of the opinion that it “holds its weight architecturally with its neighbour (Cape Wickham) up the coastline.”

A little further down the chart, the course at The Grand Golf Club in Gilston, Queensland, climbs ten places to number 38. Venue for the Australian Open in 2001, four years after it re-opened its doors as a private members club, this 18-hole layout is another Greg Norman track that was designed along with the Great White Shark’s former lead associate, Bob Harrison. As a recent reviewer stated, it “provides a tough challenge for all types of golfer” and offers “plenty to think about with many water carries as well as excellent bunkering around the greens”.

The next rung on the Top 100 ladder is occupied by the course at Concord Golf Club, located in Sydney’s Inner West (up thirteen to number 39), which has been in play now for more than a century. Rebuilt by Dan Soutar in 1916, the layout was refurbished by Ross Watson in the mid-1990s before Brian Slawnik from Renaissance Golf Design recently carried out a substantial 6-month renovation, involving the reconstruction of all eighteen greens and the installation of couch grass on putting surface approaches and surrounds.

Another couple of new entries make an appearance in prominent positions: the South course at Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club in Frankston (new at number 36) has just re-launched after an extensive renovation by the design firm of Ogilvie, Clayton, Cocking & Mead and the South course at The Eastern Golf Club in Yering (new at number 66) is where Greg Norman fashioned a 27-hole facility for the club when it relocated two years ago from the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster to the Yarra Valley.

Click the link to see full details of all courses in our latest Top 100 Golf Courses of Australia rankings.

We’re always keen to find out what you make of any newly refreshed national rankings so by all means tell us what you think of our new chart for this country. Is there a particular layout that we’ve missed or perhaps we’ve included one which shouldn’t be there? Maybe we’ve listed one that’s riding too high or languishing too low? Whatever your feelings are, click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to voice an opinion.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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