Our collective quarantine is slowly ending and it will soon be time to let the golf adventures flow. From amazing trips and off-course experiences to savvy purchases and the simple things we miss, our editors draw up a hit-list of the things every golfer must see and do when COVID-19 restrictions ease.

  Getty images: Steve Hix

A post-round beer in the clubhouse

Sure, some states being allowed to play golf throughout this pandemic has been a huge blessing to their citizens’ mental health. But how much better will it be when we can all celebrate – or drown our sorrows – with friends at the clubhouse bar? Cheers!

Style up your wardrobe

We know it’s been hard. Heck, this scribe added another ‘X’ to his shirt size during the early stages of lockdown. If that’s not motivation enough to upgrade your golf attire, the fact your current collection is at least two years old should be. It’s a good thing we’ve stumbled upon Polo Golf. Since 1987, Polo Golf has defined excellence from the club to the course. From outfitting professionals who represent what is extraordinary about the sport to a sharpened focus on the needs of the modern golfer, the legacy of Polo Golf is in its respect for tradition. With a sharpened focus on the needs of the modern player but always rooted in the rich design tradition of Ralph Lauren, the Golf collections [above] combine state-of-the-art performance wear with luxurious finishing touches for collections that travel effortlessly between the course and the clubhouse. 

Introduced in 2006, RLX Golf is rooted in the design heritage of Ralph Lauren and features superior high-performance technology. RLX Golf combines functional, slimmed-down shapes with modern, technical fabrics. Ensuring the ultimate in function and comfort, RLX works closely with the makers of the most innovative fabrics available. The RLX Golf collection draws inspiration from the traditional aesthetic of Polo, updating it to create a modern sensibility focused on performance-driven design. From sophisticated styles to the most technologically advanced fabrics available, RLX Golf is the ultimate in functional luxury. Visit ralphlauren.com.au to see the full range. 

And don’t forget to check out the new summer ranges of all the leading golf apparel brands, like Travis Mathew (travismathew.com), adidas (adidas.com.au/golf), Ping Apparel (pingapparel.com.au), Puma (cobrapumagolf.com), FootJoy (footjoy.com.au) and Fayde Golf (faydegolf.com)

Journey to an ‘outpost’ course

There will never been more incentive to leave the hustle and bustle of our big cities than when state and regional borders get the green light and our travel freedoms return in full. So why not mark the occasion with something extra ‘regional’ by heading way out of town to iconic outpost courses like Kalgoorlie Golf Course in Western Australia and Alice Springs Golf Club in the Northern Territory? Kalgoorlie is the most isolated course in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses ranking and draws attention to itself as an annual PGA Tour of Australasia stop thanks to what is a brilliant execution of melding a golf course into the harshness of a desert landscape. Alice Springs Golf Club also boasts one of the world’s finest desert venues, set in the foothills of the majestic MacDonnell Ranges. With several quality hotels backing onto the course, staying a couple of days and enjoying the magnificent scenery is a must. Both courses will have you appreciating the land we live in – and coming back for more. For more information, visit kalgoorliegolfcourse.com or alicespringsgolfclub.com.au

Te Arai: Riley Johns/Twitter

Travel overseas again, even if it’s just to New Zealand

At the time of writing, New Zealand’s ban on quarantine-free travel from Australia was set to remain until November, with future trans-Tasman travel hinging on vaccination rates. But one thing is certain, when international borders do open, Australia’s ‘travel bubble’ with our friendly neighbours will be the first port of call. And there’s never been more mouth-watering reasons for golfers to fly across the ditch, with perennial favourite Queenstown ready to wine and dine Aussie golfers and make up for lost time. Further north, something really special is coming, too. Having already built the ultra-exclusive Tara Iti into one of the world’s most spectacular courses, owner Ric Kayne is going all out with another otherworldly creation on his seaside property. Titled Te Arai Links, this 36-hole showstopper will be open to the public and is set to have the golf world talking when the first 18 holes open in late 2022. With one layout being designed by Tom Doak, and the other by the formidable partnership of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, expectations are mighty that New Zealand will have two new entries in the World’s Top 100 Courses by the end of 2023. Start booking those flights!

Introduce the game to a newcomer

Fact: if every golfer in Australia introduced one new person to the sport, we’d have twice as many people playing and, in theory, a better argument for a reduction in our fees. Thousands of newcomers have been exposed to golf during the pandemic thanks to the cancellation of many team sports in local communities. Now you have a chance to add to those numbers and do your part in helping grow the game. But don’t make it a drag on your patience or time. There’s no harm in walking off the course before nine holes are completed – in fact, it can be the best thing you can do. Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Erika Larkin says, “Depending on the age of your golfers, five or six holes may be plenty. Finish when it’s still fun and it leaves your newcomers wanting more.” For a full guide on taking someone out for the first time, check out australiangolfdigest.com.au/lets-play

Book the ultimate golf trip with your friends

There are great golf trips, then there’s the ultimate Barnbougle–King Island Golf Tour with Air Adventure. Fly direct from Melbourne on the best aircraft in the industry – a $2.5 million Swiss-built Pilatus PC12 – and land right on the course and be in the Barnbougle clubhouse in 10 minutes. Stay in on-course accommodation with spectacular views and be hosted by Air Adventure’s local guide on King Island with private transfers. And, most importantly of all, experience four of the best golf courses in the country – Barnbougle Dunes, Lost Farm, Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes, before heading home with some of the world’s best cheese bought at cellar-door prices. Oh, alright…  if I must. Book your seat at airadventure.com.au/tour/the-ultimate

Chateau Elan and The Vintage form a centrepiece for golf in the Hunter Valley.

Head to the New South Wales Hunter Valley

Any golf holiday in New South Wales must take the Hunter Valley region into consideration. No longer famous just for its sublime wines and hot-air balloon joyrides, this patch of high-country golf heaven is a must for those packing the clubs. If the Greg Norman co-designed The Vintage Resort and Chateau Elan aren’t enough to satisfy your every need, the new and improved Cypress Lakes Resort certainly will. Nestled in the Hunter Valley’s picturesque hinterland surroundings, Cypress Lakes Resort by Oaks Hotels and Resorts promises a tranquil and indulgent escape on a course that is enjoying some well-timed upgrades. For the gastronomic types, the dining options in the region are plentiful, with Muse, Bistro Molines and Ben Ean restaurants among the swathe of eateries that enjoy repeat business for a reason. 

But if great golf and post-round pampering sounds like you, Chateau Elan at The Vintage is the place to be. Its luxurious private villas enjoy an elevated position overlooking the fairways and, along with 17 beautifully appointed spa treatment rooms, a comprehensive menu of services and a team that understands care, comfort and discretion, this award-winning spa resort offers the ultimate in indulgence. For accommodation enquiries at The Vintage, phone
(02) 4998 2500 or e-mail [email protected]chateauelan.com.au. To book your stay at Cypress Lakes Resort by Oaks Hotels and Resorts, visit oakshotels.com/en/oaks-cypress-lakes-resort

Attend a marquee golf tournament

Australians have been starved of live golf for two years now after the postponement of this year’s Australian Open and PGA Championship until early (fingers and toes firmly crossed!) next year. Is there anything better than following the world’s best players in glorious summer weather, beverage in hand? It’s something we all took for granted prior to the pandemic. 

“The uncertainty of the quarantine requirements for players along with public health considerations, including the uncertainty about lockdowns and living restrictions, make it very difficult to plan for an event with any certainty,” says Golf Australia chief executive James Sutherland.

The Australian PGA Championship, originally scheduled for December 2-5 at Royal Queensland, is now firming for a January 13-16 start, while the Open has moved from November 25-28 at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney to a date yet to be announced in late January or February. When tickets go on sale, be sure to get in early!

It must be time to play beautiful Bonville (again!)

There’s a reason Bonville Resort is one of Australia’s most popular golf destinations – it never fails to disappoint, no matter how many times you go back. And believe us, you will.

Nestled at the foot of the Great Dividing Range on the beautiful Coffs Coast and just 10 minutes from Coffs Harbour, Bonville offers a Jurassic Park-like golf experience with some of the best food and wine in the country, courtesy of its on-course Flooded Gums restaurant.

While you’re there, make time to venture into town to experience the new-look Coffs Harbour Driving Range, fitted out with state-of-the-art Toptracer technology. Oh, and did we mention mini-golf for the whole family? This is a beach holiday with the works!

A Hawaiian golf cruise? Count us in!

Hit the water with a Hawaiian hole-in-one

Island-hop Hawaii style on a seven-day inter-island cruise from Honoluluwith NCL’s Pride of America, the only cruise line to offer year-round Hawaii voyages. And the best bit for golfers? Unpack just once, visit four islands and enjoy the opportunity to play championship-calibre courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, all located in the world’s most idyllic locations. Plus, with two overnight calls, you’ll have enough time to play two courses on Maui and Kauai. Back onboard, with 12 bars and lounges to choose from, take your pick for a ‘19th hole’ sundowner together with more dining options than cruise days. Learn more at www.ncl.com

Toptracer Range has taken Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Golf facility to a whole new level.

Experience Australia’s ‘new’ driving range 

Toptracer Range is redefining the driving range experience – from a functional training day to an exciting experience for everyone. The technology provides instant shot replays and statistical feedback on interactive game screens in your hitting bay, which allows players to make swing adjustments and immediately see the impact on their golf shot. Already in use at Yarra Bend (Melbourne), Curlewis (Geelong), Brisbane Golf Central, 19th Golf (Sydney) and Whaleback (Perth), Toptracer Range features games and modes suited for all ages and skill levels. Take on the world in a long-drive competition, play closest to the pin with your friends, dive into advanced analytics to fine-tune your swing, and virtually tee it up at some of the world’s greatest courses. For Yarra Bend Golf, the addition of Toptracer technology has only enhanced its reputation as Melbourne’s premier public golf facility, which also boasts a picturesque 18-hole course, Adventure Golf (mini golf), flexible memberships and one of the best coaching lineups in the country. Better yet, it all sits just 10 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. Book your visit now at yarrabendgolf.com or for more information on Toptracer Range, check out toptracerrange.com.au

Mix wine with golf

Wine and golf go together like scorecards and pencils, and in Australia we’re blessed to have multiple options to choose from. From Victoria’s gorgeous Yarra Valley to Western Australia’s Margaret River, the most fussy of palates is well catered for. One of our undeniable favourites, however, has to be the Four Reds tour in the capital of Australia’s adored wine scene, the Barossa Valley. Four Reds continues the time-honoured tradition of matching exquisite golf courses with fine wines. You’ll play four of the most prestigious private golf clubs in Australia – Glenelg, The Grange, Kooyonga and Royal Adelaide – and at the end of each 18 holes, you’ll enjoy a bottle of specially paired premium wine along with a tasting plate sourced from the gourmet producers of South Australia. Four Reds offers holiday packages for three to six nights in Adelaide, including all course fees, transfers, accommodation and paired wine experiences. For more information, visit fourreds.com.au

Worrigee Links is proving popular with locals and visitors.

Set foot on these South Coast sleepers

Narooma and Mollymook hog much of the limelight when it comes to great golf on the New South Wales South Coast. But what truly separates this region from so many others is the plethora of seaside golf on offer the further you travel up or down the Princes Highway. 

Five minutes from the centre of Nowra sits the newest course in this tourist hotspot, Worrigee Links. Generous fairways, clever bunkering and picture-perfect greens are matched in quality only by the friendly folk who call this patch of paradise home – a membership that has exploded by more than 20 percent during the past year. And it’s not hard to see why. Recent renovations to Worrigee Sports Club have completely transformed this place into must-visit for those with an appetite, with The Growers eatery offering a casual indoor-outdoor bar with locally sourced produce.

Further down the highway, 30 minutes north of Narooma, you’ll arrive at the home of the South Coast Open, Moruya Golf Club. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Eurobodalla, Moruya is regarded as one of the best courses on the South Coast. With lush fairways and slick greens, don’t fall victim to the seemingly subtle changes in elevation of this parkland beauty. There’s water aplenty, and the gigantic double green shared by the ninth and 18th holes – a whopping 40 metres in diameter – is so iconic in these parts the club named its restaurant after it. It’s another must-play on any South Coast trip where clubs are in tow.

Our editors can all still recall their first trip to Bermagui Country Club, if not for the true test of golf is offers, for the world-class views it includes. But best not to let Horseshoe Bay and Gulaga Mountain distract you from the mission at hand, because this is a course that demands every bit of your A game, evidenced by the fact that four of the first five par 4s stretch beyond 375 metres. When you’ve finished your round, check out this quaint fishing village and be sure to try some local seafood. 

And the best part of all three courses mentioned? The prices! You’ll get on for 18 holes for less than $50. Check out worrigeesports.com.au, moruyagolfclub.com.au and bermaguicountryclub.com for more information.

Is it time you were fitted for new clubs?  (The answer is yes!)

Get fitted for new clubs

Go on, you’ve earned it. All those months sitting in lockdown, staring out the window wondering why you can’t continue your one true love and passion, all the while the biggest brands in the game keep releasing their latest and greatest gear. Whether you’re a fan of Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping, Cobra, Srixon, Mizuno or golf’s many other household names, most offer personal fittings to ensure you get the optimal clubs to help you shoot lower scores. Check out their respective websites for local fitting information or seek the many high-quality independent fitting agencies like Cool Clubs (coolclubsoz.com.au), Pureform Golf (pureformgolf.com.au) and Drummond Golf’s own in-store MiMatch fitting system (drummondgolf.com.au/mimatch).

The Sands Torquay is the perfect starting point to any Great Ocean Road exploration.

Start the Great Ocean Road in style

Beginning your 200-kilometre journey along one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives doesn’t get any better than this. The Sands Torquay, currently in the final stages of a $5 million property renovation and refurbishment in time for its December 1 re-opening, is the obvious choice to kick off an unforgettable journey. Whether you’re travelling for leisure or business, the club’s enhancements will inspire you to settle in and enjoy a quintessential coastal escape, one – let’s be honest – that we’re all champing at the bit to experience after this horrible pandemic. On the course, things have never looked better, either. The Stuart Appleby-designed layout provides ample space off the tee and pared-back rough, allowing every level of golfer to enjoy the challenge of navigating the many bunkers that were inspired by the Melbourne Sandbelt. The views of the ocean on the back nine are worth the trip alone. Book now at thesandstorquay.com

Rake a bunker with caddie-like precision

Complaints about “unfair” bunkers are especially contrary to the spirit of golf: aren’t hazards supposed to be hazardous? Sure. But there’s something about smoothing out your footprints with a garden tool that really soothes the sole – sorry, ‘soul’. While rake-free bunkers – a rule applied to many courses during the pandemic per COVID-19 safety protocols – have generally helped speed up play, they’ve robbed us of our inner-artist and made already less-than-ideal lies unplayable for the weekend warrior. But those moon craters are coming to an end, for we will meet again soon, you pronged instrument of excellence.

Experience the best of Port Stephens  

If you love sparkling waterways, pristine beaches, whales, dolphins, bushwalking, cycling, kayaking, sailing, golf, cafés, parasailing, fine dining, shopping, fresh produce, wineries, breweries, sliding down sand dunes, quad-biking, horse riding, waterfront dining, spectacular sunsets and friendly people, then you’re going to love the New South Wales region of Port Stephens. If you want to play a course that featured in the book 1001 Golf Holes You Should Play Before You Die, this holiday haven has that, too.

Located in Salamander Bay, Horizons Resort has played a pivotal role in popularising golf in the Port Stephens area since opening in 1992 thanks to the countless awards it has won over the journey. Why so many accolades? Its challenge and scenic beauty. Every hole on this picturesque course is unique, and guarded by well-positioned bunkers, pristine waterways and bentgrass greens that are rated alongside the best in the country. But the great golf doesn’t stop there. The sleepy Port Stephens town of Medowie received a wake-up call in 2005 when championship golf arrived in the shape of Pacific Dunes. And whichever nine your round begins on, you’re in for an excursion highlighted by diversity. The front nine of the James Wilcher-designed layout wends its way through woodlands that reward accuracy over bravado. In contrast, the far more open back nine is spacious but water-laden, with water in play on nearly every hole coming home. The opportunities for reward are frequent, accompanied by a commensurate level of risk. It is a formidable test, although one that is well worth relishing whatever your handicap level. Play both courses now by booking via playgolfnewcastle.com.au

St Andrews Beach is a must-play on the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria.

Relive the magic of the Mornington Peninsula

The world may be a different place since this pandemic began, but one thing remains as certain as the day it became fact – Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is one of the finest golf destinations anywhere. And we can’t wait to get back. Among its headline acts is St Andrews Beach, a perennial favourite among travelling golfers and for a good reason. It’s the first solo design esteemed American course architect Tom Doak gave our fair land and currently holds the ranking of 26th in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses. 

Deceptively short by scorecard assessment alone, the attractive and strategic layout mixes length with short, smart holes and broad playing corridors with occasionally wild shaping – but all in keeping with the rolling landforms of the perfect-for-golf region known as ‘The Cups’. 

While you’re down this way, it would be sacrilege not to book in rounds at The National, Moonah Links, The Dunes, Portsea and Sorrento, all Top 100 courses in their own right and certain to have you extending your stay in this incredible part of the world. Start planning your trip now at visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Mornington-Peninsula

Rich River Resort, a staple of any Murray River Golf getaway.

Strike it rich on the Murray River

Plenty has been written about the Murray River’s newest course [see page 46], but two of its original icons are preparing for an influx of new interest too. Rich River Golf Club, in the tourist-friendly NSW-Victoria border town of Echuca-Moama, is delivering big on its promise to remain a one-stop shop for the entire family. Two distinct courses, both immaculately groomed all-year round, are accompanied by a new mini-golf facility that’s proving to be a big hit with golfers and non-golfers alike, making it an ideal base for a Murray River golf getaway. With more than 60 rooms available for travellers – including an apartment that can accommodate a group of eight – the club offers a range of packages to make your post-COVID adventure fun and affordable. 

Meanwhile, Australia’s only 45-hole resort, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, remains one of the ultimate destinations for any demographic. With three fantastic golf courses sandwiched between the mighty Murray River and Lake Mulwala, great golf is only a snippet of the fun on offer at this perennial favourite. Its on-site movie theatre and health and fitness facility, combined with a swimming pool and massage parlour, makes it an enticing stopover. Throw in the endless kids activities and walking tracks and it’s easy to see why this place books out fast. 

Lock in your next Murray River golf adventure at yarragolf.com.au and richriver.com.au

The Springs is no longer a secret kept among Sydneysiders.

Let The Springs surprise you

Some eagle-eyed Sydneysiders need no introduction to The Springs. For the rest of the country – the secret is officially out! This gorgeous parcel of land tucked away in the vast acreage of Peats Ridge, just 40 minutes up the M1 Motorway from Sydney on the NSW Central Coast, has morphed into the ultimate short escape for, well, just about everyone. Having always boasted a stunning 18-hole course designed by Al Howard and Graham Papworth, The Springs can now lay claim to owning one of the more impressive clubhouse interiors you’ll see. An elegant blend of natural timbers and rustic farmhouse materials, combined with world-class dining, has transformed this place into, not surprisingly, a popular wedding venue and day-trip stopover for travelling groups, with its Sitting Duck bistro offering mouth-watering cuisine by executive chef Dan Capper that breaks away from traditional clubhouse fare. Be blown away by the majestic bushland as you navigate your way around this fun layout and finish it off with the vast array of refreshments available at the Duck Inn bar. Find out more at the-springs.com.au

Keep the ‘quick nines’ coming

Among the reasons the sport was seen to be in decline before the pandemic was the simple fact that finding four-plus hours (emphasis on the plus) to play 18 holes was too difficult. Golf Australia’s ‘2021 Play 9’ initiative was a good attempt at trying to get people rethinking what a round of golf means, but for those still working 9-to-5, plus a long commute, sneaking in nine holes wasn’t easy, either. Luckily, the pandemic did force many to work from home and allowed golfers to get creative with their work hours and find time to sneak out early or late for a few holes or a practice session. Heck, some people got a lot of their work done at the course (at least that’s what our friends are saying), though we wouldn’t encourage this one. For more inspiration, check out golf.org.au/play9

TopGolf on the Gold Coast

If you haven’t experienced Topgolf on the sunny Gold Coast, you’re in the minority. One of the hottest crazes in golf worldwide, at Topgolf you’ll hit micro-chipped golf balls into giant targets on the outfield from your own bay, during the day or under lights in the evening. Is relaxing more your thing? Kick back with a meal from a chef-inspired menu or enjoy your favourite tipple on the rooftop terrace while listening to live music. It’s the perfect cure for any locked-down golfer craving fun! Book your bay now at topgolf.com.au

Have a contingency plan 

If this pandemic has told us anything, it’s that you can never be certain what’s going to happen tomorrow. So it’s best to have a contingency plan in place if we, perish the thought, ever go back into lockdown. Have you got a hitting net to keep your swing in sync? Have you got a putting mat to keep your flatstick sharp? Maybe you have the funds to go all out and get a home simulator installed in your house? For all the latest at-home golf products, keep your eyes on proshopgolf.com.au, launching soon!

 Getty images: Andrew Redington

Attend the 2022 Masters tournament

For most Aussies, attending the Masters is ‘item No.1’ on the bucket list. With international travel inching closer to a return, the 2022 Masters Tournament is once again back on the agenda for golf fanatics Down Under. And what better way to make that lifelong dream a reality than booking, risk-free, through one of the most reputable local tour companies in the land. Join Teed Up Golf Tours, Australia’s leading Masters tour specialists, on their 2022 Masters Tour, where you’ll play five fantastic golf courses – including the revered Pinehurst – and attend three days at the 2022 tournament, including the dramatic final round. Hosted by the company’s director of golf, PGA professional Mike Mosher, Teed Up has taken hundreds of golf enthusiasts to the Masters, with 2022 marking Mosher’s 22nd journey to golf’s hallowed turf. “Due to our long-term relationships and reputation, we can secure guaranteed tickets, the highest quality hotels and the best golf courses for the duration of the tour,” he says. Check out the full itinerary and reserve your spot now at teedupgolftours.com/2022-us-masters

For more information on Masters tours leaving from Australia, check out atfs.com.au or voyages.golf

Finally, take a lesson from A PGA pro

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Rust has crept into everyone’s game during lockdown. But there’s a solution – get that lesson you have long been talking about. Australia is blessed to have some of the most qualified PGA professionals on the planet at its disposal. Let them help you shoot better scores. 

Go to pga.org.au/find-a-pga-pro and you’ll be making birdies in no time!