Picking the best three holes from each state is an impossible task if the aim is to assemble a list where there might be some form of consensus.
Everyone has their favourite holes. Some will pick them on the base of their playing experiences or how playing the hole makes them feel on a personal level. Anyone who has played the extraordinary 5th at New South Wales GC is exhilarated by the experience and the view. For many, that alone makes it a great hole. Who am I to argue?
Many will pick the obviously spectacular holes. Probably the three heading that category are the par 3 7th on The Old Course at The National, the aforementioned 5th at NSW and the spectacular par three 6th to follow. Their quality is made as much by their settings and the attendant views of the ocean as their architectural merit.
So here we go, my crack at the almost impossible list …
Royal Melbourne West 6th
This dogleg to the right is one of Alister MacKenzie’s best holes and he made many great ones all over the world. The tee shot is played downhill and across the bunkers guarding the corner of the dogleg and from there the second plays up the hill to a severe green tipping steeply from back to front.
Royal Melbourne West 10th
The short four is drivable with the perfect tee shot, one fired across one of the most fearsome bunkers in the country. The green is small and most play safely to the right and pitch from there with one aim in mind – do not go long.
Kingston Heath 15th
MacKenzie killed two birds with one stone with this uphill 145-metre piece of genius. He replaced the original short, blind par four (one he described as a ‘blot on the course’) with what it arguably the best par three in the country. With no ocean to attract those looking for an obvious thrill he made a beautiful green, surrounded it with deep and penal bunkers and for decades now it has visually intimidated the unsure into hitting a misdirected shot.
NEW SOUTH WALES/ACT
La Perouse (NSWGC) 14th
A short par four made by a diagonal ridge across the fairway at driving distance and the further left one drives the longer the carry and the shorter the pitch into the tiny green well above the fairway. The short second shot is demanding of one of the most precise pitches in the country
The Lakes 11th
This par 5 designed Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge in 1971 turns all the way around a huge lake making the long second shot fascinating for every player no matter how far they drive. The longest can fly the second all the way across the water to the green whilst the rest can decide for themselves where best to lay back and set up the third shot. Going for the green in two sets up a black and white option – you either make it or you don’t. Playing safely along the fairway opens up multiple shades of grey with every metre you creep closer to the green a metre more dangerous the second shot.
Newcastle GC 5th
This medium length par 4 is perhaps not so well known but it’s one of the very best holes in the country. It plays across the tumbling dune land the course is known for and the ideal tee shot flies from right to left and takes advantage of the natural slope to leave a short iron to the green. A long drive ‘missed straight’ finishes in on a dune through the fairway and over-hooking isn’t any good either. Many play safe from the tee with a long iron and from back there the green is hardly easy to hit.
Royal Adelaide 3rd
This is another example of the genius of Alister MacKenzie. There was already a course here when he arrived in 1926 and the club only partially adopted his redesign proposal. Fortunately they included this blind, over the dune, 280 metre hole. It is reachable from the tee but few take the option as the hole narrows the closer you play to the green and finding the dune on the right assures a scrambling par is the best you can hope for.
Royal Adelaide 14th
The 3rd is one of the best short 4s and this dogleg right is one of the best long ones. The green is small and hard to hit, rewarding a long and accurate drive flirting with the fairway bunkers on the right. Some mistake hard holes for good ones but here is an example of a great and difficult hole.
A reachable par 5 with a long second played through a narrow gap lined, as is RA’s 3rd, by a dune on then right. It’s a terrific hole but those who have studied photos of the hole in the 1920s will find something even more dramatic.
Lake Karrinyup 3rd.
A long par five with the tee shot played across the lake after which the course is named. To reach the green in two shots players have to take a tight line across the water and then deal with the water to the left of the green. It’s easier to play safely away to the right all the way along the hole but the green is difficult to pitch to and the closer you are the easier it is to find the target.
Sun City 2nd
The formerly long par 4, 2nd was broken up into a short par four and a par three. The original land the 2nd played over was ideal for the making of an interesting short par four and it was simply a matter of following some simple and established principles of strategic design. The green is reachable for long hitters but there are a couple of bunkers on the right to carry. Those playing safely left into the wide expanse of fairway face a more difficult pitch across a greenside bunker to a green orientated to receive a pitch from the opposite side of the fairway.
Kennedy Bay 16th.
The 16th is a short par three played across the wind to a difficult green to hit in the seemingly ever-present seaside winds.
Everyone loves good short holes because with one good swing an average player can make a birdie and with one poor one the best player in the world can make an annoying bogey.
Royal Queensland 5th
This is an unspectacular hole but one taking both clear thought and good shots to answer its questions. A fairway bunker controls the left half of the fairway and the further right you play the poorer the angle in to the green. You can play short and left to the low fairway under the bunker and play blind across the bunker but from a good angle.
The perfect drive hugs the edge of the bunker line leaving a shot played from an ideal angle to a green you can see. The fairway is 60 yards wide but only the perfect drive earns the ultimate reward.
Royal Queensland 9th
This is a long par five played across flat ground and one where centre-line affecting both the tee shot and the long second determine the strategy. Every standard of player has to deal with the questions they ask at some point and whether into or down the wind it is always an interesting hole to play.
Royal Queensland 17th
The new hole here is a revised version of the hole attributed to Alister MacKenzie when he visited the club in 1926. It’s short – at the most an 8 or 9 iron if it’s into the wind – but with a small green which makes saving a three really difficult if you miss the green.
Barnbougle Lost Farm 5th.
This hole is the same shape as Royal Melbourne’s 6th. The major structural difference is instead of playing down with perfect visibility over bunkers on the corner of the dogleg you drive blind over a huge dune reminding of golf in Ireland. The huge and wildly undulating green climbs up to the high point in the back left corner where the most difficult pins are cut.
Barnbougle Dunes 7th
Despite being only 112 meters this short par three is one of the most difficult par threes in Australia. Into the prevailing winds it can be as much as a four or five iron shot and even with no wind the pitch is demanding. As Nick Faldo once said ‘all the best holes in the world are the twitchy ones.’
Barnbougle Dunes 17th
Generally played into the wind this long four is one of the more difficult holes at Barnbougle. A dune full of bunkers protects the right corner of the dogleg forcing most to the left. The green is long, undulating and raised above the natural level of the fairway further complicating the running approach.
The best 10 holes from the 18 above
Tell us what you think of Mike's assessments – and please share your favourite holes for all around the country to discuss during Golf Month throughout October …