On most respected golf bucket lists, Tasmania’s Barnbougle Dunes and neighbouring Lost Farm are prominent.
We’re talking WORLD lists – of ALL courses.
So it’s a safe bet to say a list of Australian public access courses would have them prominently featured.
But this isn’t just any list.
With Australia having one of the world’s greatest collection of public courses – including many that are “semi-private” but still gladly welcome visitors – we wanted to put some new names in front of you.
So while we dip our lids to those Tasmanian masterpieces – and wholeheartedly recommend a visit – we’ve sought the help of the state and territory bodies to point out the gems within their boundaries that you can, and should, pay a visit.
Some are remote, some might be right under your nose; but either way, do yourself a favour and check out these courses and, simply, marvel at just how accessible golf is across our magnificent country.
With due deference to the aforementioned Bridport classics in northern Tassie, try this one down south, set on Hobart’s eastern shore amid a couple of world-class private courses Royal Hobart and Tasmania Golf Club.
This nine-hole gem has a rich history, not least of which comes as part of Royal Hobart’s previous layout.
It features a great practice area and has a community golf coach on staff. More importantly, you can be on the course within 10 minutes of leaving the beautiful Hobart downtown area with the course literally a minute east of the Tasman Bridge.
There are some great courses in regional areas, including the spectacular Adelaide Hills and into the south-east, but we settled on two closer to the capital.
Nestled in the Northern parklands and just minutes from Adelaide’s bustling CBD, the North Adelaide Golf Course boasts spectacular views of the city and offers three great golf venues in one superb location.
Golfers can enjoy the championship-style South Course, while those new to the game or short on time will enjoy either the North Course or Par 3 layouts where Adam Scott learnt to play.
You’d be hard pressed to find two more spectacular tees in the country than the South Course’s elevated 3rd and 7th holes. The 3rd is the signature hole with postcard views and the best city backdrop going around. More breathtaking views await players from the par-5 – 7th tee with the famous Adelaide Oval to the left and city straight ahead.
Home to some of the best public golf facilities in South Australia, with immaculate greens and a picturesque natural environment, complimented by a range of facilities.
Adelaide Shores has two beautiful, public courses – the Patawalonga par 72 and the Executive par 50 along with a golf academy and practice facilities, all nestled among the magnificent Adelaide Sandbelt between the airport and the sea.
As is the case in many states, Queensland has a slew of great courses that offer some form of membership, but very much welcome public access golfers.
The courses we settled on are all in the south and have smaller memberships than their more private neighbours. All thrive on user-friendly layouts and are well maintained.
Again, with deference to the mighty Brookwater layout west of Brisbane that is currently undergoing a major renovation that has taken it out of play for a year, here are our top three.
Located on the Sunshine Coast, this course is always in fantastic condition and designed to accommodate beginner golfers with wide fairways, yet still present a challenge for the more seasoned golfer. It also has outstanding practice facilities.
One of many such great facilities on the Gold Coast, The Glades offers a wide range of tee times due to its small membership base and the course is known for its superb greens that use “creeping bent grass” which are unique in Queensland.
Located just north of Brisbane, this course is always maintained in great condition and presents a stern test for all golfers with some tight fairways and large undulating greens.
Give or take on a couple of definitions, many in the Territory might have played all 14 courses on offer. The superb Gove Country Club is always a favourite and has many outstanding junior and inclusive programs already in full swing to ensure all who want to are exposed to golf.
But as a course you might not have heard of, check this one out.
If you’ve ever wanted to get a taste of what “outback” golf, look no further. Just on the east side of town – and with only 19 members – lies one of the most “natural” golf experiences you’ll ever get on a course maintained by those in the nearby prison farm.
Bring your own mat so you can play your ball on the fairways, then deal with the oil sand scrapes at the other end of each hole. The club is always open and club hire is available if you don’t want to take your clubs on this great inland trek.
Located 600km east of Perth, this stunning course offers Aussie golfers a genuine desert golf experience without the need to travel to Arizona.
Designed by Graham Marsh with its famous juxtaposition of green fairways to the red “rough”, Kalgoorlie is a must-see in any visit to WA’s Goldfields. The course itself hosts the final two holes on the famous Nullarbor Golf Links that starts in Ceduna, South Australia, and finishes in Kalgoorlie.
Green fees start at $35 for 9 holes on a weekday to $65 for a full round on the weekend – a very reasonable rate to play for a course that hosts the WA PGA Championship every year, delivering winners that include Brett Rumford, Stephen Dartnall and Jack Wilson.
Links at Kennedy Bay
When you combine the spectacular south-west coastline with the efforts of designers Michael Coate, the late Roger Mackay and Ian Baker-Finch, you’ll get this – one of the crown jewels of West Australian golf.
Located an hour’s drive south of Perth, the Links at Kennedy Bay is well worth the day trip for locals and tourists alike. If you fancy a longer stay in the south-west, which we’d recommend, you’ll be delighted to find that Kennedy Bay works brilliantly as a bucket list weekender alongside The Cut, another of WA’s famous links style public access courses.
You’ll find green fees at Kennedy Bay surprisingly affordable, ranging from $30 for a mid-week nine to $60 for a round at the weekend.
NEW SOUTH WALES
With so many great golf courses across New South Wales, we had to make a call on the criteria that separates these crackers.
What some public access courses lack is the capacity to challenge players of all levels, yet also provide an enjoyable experience for the beginner. With apologies to Kooindah Waters, The Vintage and Magenta Shores, we chose the following courses for their capacity to be enjoyable for players of all levels.
A great news story and an even greater golf facility.
Built on the old tip site and not far from Lucas Heights Nuclear Facility, The Ridge boasts a surprisingly good golf course, even still in its infancy.
In the Sutherland Shire, it also has a first-class range and incredible practice facilities.
Not only a brilliant golf experience, but a walk among nature.
The course enjoys a magnificent outlook onto Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and is home to more than 30 species of native animals and birds.
For golfers, it’s a challenging and beautiful course that is being extensively remodelled to provide maximum enjoyment. The golf course remodelling and upgrade is part of the North Turramurra Recreation Area project.
Known as Australia’s Augusta, the multiple tee options ensures players of all abilities have an enjoyable and challenging round.
And if playing in a spectacular bushland setting near Coffs Harbour isn’t enough, Bonville has the only “hatted” restaurant of any golf club in Australia.
Like its northern neighbour, Victoria has a plethora of alternatives that aren’t easily confined in a short list. So we settled for one metropolitan and one regional …
The Yarra Bend golf complex is located within 5km of the Melbourne CBD and offers an excellent 18-hole public course, state-of-the-art driving range, adventure golf facility, cafe and heritage-listed clubhouse.
The par-70 course is set on beautiful undulating parkland along the banks of the Yarra River and presented to a turf standard befitting Melbourne's superb collection of member clubs. At 5409 metres for men and 4703 metres for women, new and experienced golfers alike will relish the challenge of the tree-lined layout and subtle bunkering while enjoying views of the Melbourne skyline.
For nature lovers, the native gum trees bordering the holes along the Yarra also play home to a large number of Melbourne's bat population.
St Andrews Beach
Victorian golfers have long enjoyed the geography of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula and Bellarine Peninsula, which provide a unique natural landscape for a wonderful collection of courses.
St Andrews Beach is one such course, located in 'The Cups' region of the Mornington Peninsula. Originally opened as an exclusive members facility in 2006, but a public access course since 2009, the Tom Doak design has been built on a stunningly beautiful piece of gently undulating links land reminiscent of the best of Scottish and Irish golf.
The internationally renowned architect has created a spectacular course, contrasting generous fairways with the natural vegetation, native trees and superbly crafted bunkering and green designs that have blended perfectly with the rolling dunes.
With a par of 72, multiple tee options and the ever-present wind, St Andrews Beach is a premium golf experience not to be missed.