Australia’s top 10 Golf courses
Golf writer Darius Oliver has spent five years visiting golf courses around the world. Here is a short list from his selection of the best courses Australia has to offer.
1. The hardest hole
The National Golf Club, Ocean Course, 18th hole, Vic
The National Golf Club’s Ocean Course was designed and constructed with the goal of maintaining the natural environment at Cape Schanck as much as possible. As this means construction only involved minor earthworks, natural vegetation and sand hills abound. The views of Bass Strait are extremely breath-taking but the stunning positioning of the Ocean Course also makes it one of the tougher to play as it is substantially more exposed to the elements than other links. The 18th hole is particularly challenging, with shots having to be taken directly into the wind.
2. The best opening hole
The Metropolitan, Vic
The second oldest club in Melbourne’s sandbelt is recognised, both locally and internationally, as having some of the finest golfing turf on the planet. The Metropolitan is undoubtedly one of the more beautiful courses despite the majority of the holes having undergone significant transformations throughout the 1900s. The abundance of trees at The Metropolitan contributes to the prevailing sense of serenity and means that, despite its surroundings, the course feels extremely isolated.
3. Hardest closing stretch
The National Golf Club, Moonah Links, holes 16-18, Vic
The National Golf Club’s Moonah Course is a modern treasure. Built on breathtaking coastal dunes, it takes its name from the indigenous trees of the area. The closing stretch is made up of a series of long holes that head back to the clubhouse, usually in the teeth of stiff southerly winds. So the key to scoring well at Moonah is to get through the first 11 holes as the battle to hold onto your score coming home is one of the toughest and most exciting in the country. For low markers who like their golf raw, this is a special treat – and a course designer Greg Norman particularly enjoys.
4. Most spectacular hole
New South Wales Golf Club, 5th hole, NSW
Situated on the rugged cliffs at La Perouse, the New South Wales Golf Club overlooks Botany Bay where Captain James Cook sailed into Australia aboard the Endeavour in 1770. Designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, golfers make the pilgrimage to this site to take a course built by nature, framed by the Pacific Ocean and shaped by a master. Most significant was the building of the world-renowned 6th hole in the 1930s and the shifting of the 5th tee after the army reclaimed land during World War II. These two holes are individually among Australia’s best; collectively they are one of the most awe-inspiring double acts in world golf.
5. The hardest course
Ellerston Golf Course, NSW
Also described as a ‘modern masterpiece’, Ellerston is located in the upper Hunter Valley. Owned by the Packer family, this (very) private course is both the toughest and one of the more spectacular courses in the country. The design team was given carte blanche to select any suitable site within the late Sir Kerry’s 70,000 acre estate. Pages Creek was chosen as the best location and this creek has been incorporated into the nine holes. The course can now boast the ultimate challenge to the world’s best players. Pure Santa Ana Couch is used in the fairways and Pennlinks Bentgrass on the greens, with short roughs comprising a Buffalo mix for contrasting colour and texture. Ellerston is a fitting tribute to the man who left an indelible mark on the Australian sporting landscape.
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