Planning your next short golf getaway? Stop searching – we’ve done the hard work for you. From the glorious vineyard-lined fairways of the Barossa Valley in South Australia to the spectacular coastal clifftops of Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, here’s the first chapter of our guide to the best play-and-stay golf destinations just a short commute away.

1. Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Arguably the most popular golf region in the country, the Mornington Peninsula is an easy pick on our list of recommended weekend golf holidays. The standard of every golf course along the Peninsula can’t be ignored. A scenic one-hour drive along the new freeway from Melbourne’s CBD, visitors can quickly escape the hustle and bustle for the serine peninsula life. From hot springs and amazing beaches to world-class cellar doors, gastro pubs and top-shelf restaurants, your time on the Peninsula will be spent in style. For the golfing purist, no visit to this region is complete without visits to The National, The Dunes, Sorrento, Eagle Ridge, Flinders and the newly named Bay Views Golf Club (Rosebud) that has views across the entire Peninsula. A handful of courses even have their own onsite accommodation options, from resort-style rooms to self-contained apartments. Portsea, Moonah Links and Cape Schanck all have their own resorts, while St Andrews Beach has modern self-contained apartments that cater to all. To find out more about the region and options available, see golfmorningtonpeninsula.com.au for more.

2. Barossa Valley, SA
What more could you ask for in a weekend getaway? The Barossa Valley serves up fine wine, amazing food and challenging golf courses to complete the boutique weekend away. Surrounded by two of Australia’s most recognised vineyards – Jacob’s Creek and St Hallett – and adjacent to the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, the Tanunda Pines Golf Club is an experience for all to enjoy, where pristine views, valleys and vineyards will play backdrop to your round. Sandy Creek Golf Club and the Barossa Valley Golf Club are two other quality courses to add to your itinerary. See barossa.com for more.

3. Murray River, VIC
Australia’s most majestic and historically significant river, the mighty Murray should be high on your list when it comes to a weekend golf escape. The region, recently rated the No.1 golf destination in Australia, combines natural beauty and top-shelf golf with a vast array of accommodation options that attract visitors from across the globe. With two championship golf courses only five minutes apart – Black Bull Golf Club and Yarrawonga Mulwala Resort – here is the ideal starting point for your Murray River escape. Black Bull Golf Club, designed by the legendary Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett, recently opened and boasts a brilliant 18-hole layout that’s highlighted by some of the most pure greens outside the Melbourne sandbelt. Just up the road is Australia’s largest public-access golf resort, Yarrawonga Mulwala Resort. With 45 great holes and superior resort-style accommodation, you won’t want to leave when the weekend is up. Another Murray must-do is Murray Downs Resort on the Victoria-New South Wales border at Swan Hill. An outstanding golf course in its own right, it could also be the best-value play-and-stay experience in the region, with five-night packages advertised from $525. For more information, visitvictoria.com/Regions/the-murray

4. Orange, NSW
One of the most underrated play-and-stay destinations in New South Wales, Orange will leave you green with envy with its sublime combination of food, wine and three scenic golf courses. Duntryleague Golf Club is the undisputed hero of Orange golf, but Wentworth Golf Club and Orange Ex-Services’ Country Club make this the ultimate weekend of golf in a region famous for its food and wine culture. Our tip for a unique getaway is to stay onsite at Duntryleague’s historic homestead and hit the many town restaurants and wine bars. Alternatively, Golf Orange’s ‘Grand Slam’ play-and-stay package gives you three nights at Templers Mill Motel and rounds of golf on all three courses for under $350. See golforange.com.au for more.

5. Hamilton Island, QLD [above]
Playing golf and exploring the Great Barrier Reef – does it get any better? Hamilton Island literally has it all and could be one of the most spectacular weekend getaways you ever book. Enjoy a wide selection of bars and restaurants, year-round cultural exhibitions and performances, watersports and, of course, arguably the country’s most scenic golf course on Dent Island. In fact, Hamilton Island Golf Club is Australia’s only 18-hole championship course on its own island. Throw in six different levels of accommodation to choose from across the island – ranging from plush, couples’ suites, to family-friendly apartments and holiday homes, and Hamilton Island is the perfect base to see the Great Barrier Reef with a bit of spectacular golf on the side. See hamiltonisland.com.au for more.

6. Cape Kidnappers, NZ
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is located on New Zealand’s North Island in the heart of Hawkes Bay’s wine country. Set atop 6,000 rolling acres with views to the Pacific Ocean, the 24-suite lodge offers “farm-luxe” at its finest. Fabulous food and wine are a given, with seasonal produce sourced from the farm’s own garden. Then there’s the Tom Doak-designed, world-acclaimed golf course, spa, and a spectacular 4-bedroom owner’s cottage that cap off this truly unique lodge experience. Cape Kidnappers is just a 60-minute flight from Auckland and every suite offers its own private balcony with spectacular ocean views. See capekidnappers.com for more.

7. King Island, TAS
Perched in the middle of Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania’s north-west coast is the most hyped new golf destination in the world. Surrounded by some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches and rugged coastline, King Island is already synonymous for its export of succulent beef, rich gourmet cheese and crayfish plucked from the Island’s crystal clear waters. Now it’s about the golf, too, with Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes both tipped to break into the World’s Top 100 Courses later this year. Australian Air Holidays has been successfully operating tours to King Island for more than 10 years by private charter aircraft. They now offer a range of golf packages to King Island in their ultra-comfortable Alliance Fokker 50 Aircraft. Book a King Island golf or sightseeing experience of a lifetime and be amongst the first to play this iconic island. Call 1800 815 906 or visit australianairholidays.com  for more.

The new Cape Wickham links course has helped transform King Island into a bucket-list golf destination

The new Cape Wickham links course has helped transform King Island into a bucket-list golf destination.

8. Bellarine Peninsula, VIC
Boasting three of Australia’s finest golf courses right along the Great Ocean Road, the Bellarine Peninsula is another amazing Victorian region to visit for the ultimate golf weekend away. Barwon Heads Golf Club is carved into the natural dune landscape and promises a challenge you’ll long remember. The 36 holes at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links were designed by Tony Cashmore and Nick Faldo, and are a must for any avid golfer. Both the Beach and Creek courses at Thirteenth Beach have spectacular holes that rival any along the east coast. With plenty of accommodation, restaurants and amazing beaches, a weekend getaway to the Bellarine Peninsula is definitely one to mark on your calendar.
For something extra unique, stay at Seahaven Village – purpose-built getaway accommodation in the seaside haven of Barwon Heads, just a few minutes walk from the shops, cafes and beaches and within five minutes of Barwon Heads Golf Club and Thirteenth Beach. Call Seahaven Village on (03) 5254 1066 or visit seahavenvillage.com.au.

9. Gold Coast, QLD
The Gold Coast is famous for more than its Glitter Strip, theme parks and sandy white beaches. There’s also an endless supply of quality public-access golf courses on offer all year round, making this the perfect getaway destination for everyone in the family. Gold Coast Golf Tours can help you experience all the best courses with packages tailored to suit all visiting groups. With varying forms of accommodation thrown in, you can play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Lakelands, the Greg Norman-designed The Glades, Hope Island Resort, RACV Royal Pines Resort (home of the Australian PGA and Australian Ladies Masters), Palmer Gold Coast, Arundel Hills Country Club, Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club, Brookwater and many more. Call 1300 GOLF TRIP or email [email protected] for more.

Above Par Golf Tours also invite you to experience the Gold Coast’s finest golf courses on one of their Queensland golf holiday packages. Get in touch with Above Par on 1300 798 552 or visit abovepargolf.com.au for more travel options on the Gold Coast.

golfOZ are another leading travel company that specialises in Gold Coast golf escapes and are available 24/7 to make sure you enjoy ‘a little slice of heaven’ in the tourist capital. Call (07) 5575 8500 or email at [email protected]

10. Alice Springs, NT
Extreme golf in Australia’s Big Red Centre – a weekend at Alice Springs Golf Club is one you will never forget. Unwind at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alice Springs with a round of golf in the middle of the desert. The Alice Springs Golf Club, located next to the hotel, is set amongst one of the world’s finest desert regions. Test your skill and accuracy on the 18-hole, par-72 course at the foothills of the majestic MacDonnell Ranges. Recognised as one of the world’s top 10 desert courses, the scenery here will blow your mind and have you appreciating just how lucky we are as a golfing nation. See alicespringsgolfclub.com.au for more.

11. Natadola Bay, Fiji
They say your average heart rate drops when you step off the plane at Nadi International Airport – so relaxing is a trip to this island nation. Its reputation has, over time, cemented Fiji as one of the most popular getaways for Australians because of the short 4-hour flight. We love the Fijian people, the beaches, the recreation and the resorts but we really love Natadola Bay. It’s not just the Vijay Singh-designed golf course – home of the Fiji International. It’s staying at The InterContinental, where singles, couples and families all feel welcome and catered for with an endless array of outdoor activities on offer. It’s also where modern Fijian cuisine – like the mouth-watering lobster Kokoda – is complemented by a range of new and old-world wines. For couples looking for a romantic evening for two, intimate dining offers lovebirds the option of a private cabana meal beside the ocean or under the stars. Bula! See fiji.intercontinental.com for more.

12. Cork and Fork Cup, NSW
It’s one of the best golf weekends of the year and if you love great golf and even better food and wine, lock in the Cork and Fork Cup at The Vintage Golf Resort in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. In conjunction with the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, the fourth annual Cork and Fork Cup will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 as part of the Hunter Food and Wine month.

The emphasis is a day of wine and food indulgence, a true degustation showcase. Each tee will feature a marquee and tasting samples from a local signature restaurant or premier Hunter winery. It is a unique way to experience and indulge in the best of the Hunter in one location, while enjoying the peaceful and challenging surrounds of a Greg Norman-designed golf course.

Score a hole-in-one and secure the grand prize of a trip for two to France for an intimate wine tour for 14 days, all expenses paid.

The event is based on a four-person Ambrose so there’s no pressure for the food and wine lovers that are not golf experts. The day is about enjoying the best the Hunter has to offer in a unique and fun environment. Bookings are limited so be quick. Call (02) 4998 2208 or visit thevintage.com.au.

While you’re in the Hunter Valley, why not extend your stay at Cessnock’s Wine Country Motor Inn, which specialises in packages for wine lovers, golf groups, seniors and coach groups. Visit winecountrymotorinn.com.au or call (02) 4993 2999 to make a booking and mention this editorial to receive a free wine voucher to use during your stay.

13. Melbourne Sandbelt, VIC
It seemed unthinkable not that long ago that you could walk on to a sandbelt golf course, let alone stay at one. But Victoria Golf Club has changed all that with its exclusive play and stay accommodation package. Now you can experience the outstanding hospitality that this famous club has to offer both on the course and in its historic clubhouse. For $315 a night (twin share), get full board, breakfast, lunch and a la carte dinner with a round of golf and see why the Melbourne sandbelt is all the rage. Now that’s a great weekend for the serious golf nut. See victoriagolf.com.au for more.

Playing opportunities are also available at Yarra Yarra Golf Club for members and their guests, along with interstate and overseas golfers, members of reciprocal clubs and corporate guests. Established in 1898, Yarra Yarra is one of Melbourne’s most prestigious golf clubs, boasting an immaculately presented sandbelt golf course accompanied by a heritage-listed clubhouse. Here you can walk in the footsteps of some of golf’s great Major championship winners including Sam Snead, Gary Player, Peter Thomson,  Lee Trevino and Greg Norman.
See
yarrayarra.com.au for more.

The Greg Norman-designed  Pelican Waters is a must-play during your Sunshine Coast golf getaway.

The Greg Norman-designed
Pelican Waters is a must-play during your Sunshine Coast golf getaway.

14. Sunshine Coast, QLD
Highlighted by Twin Waters, Pelican Waters, Noosa Springs, Pacific Harbour, Headland Golf Club and the newly opened Maroochy River, here is a destination that well and truly fits the bill for anyone chasing sunshine, waves and birdies. With endless beaches, spa and health retreats, markets, restaurants and nightlife, it’s easy to see why the Sunshine Coast is one of the country’s leading holiday destinations. Coolum Caprice Luxury Holiday Apartments is located alongside the beach and amongst some of the finest championship golf courses in Australia, the most notable being Palmer Resort Coolum (former home of the Australian PGA), Twin Waters, Noosa Springs, Peregian Springs, Mt Coolum and many more just a short drive away. Coolum Caprice has golf and accommodation packages for groups as small as two and up to larger groups of 50. To enquire about the right package for your group, call 1300 883 134 or visit coolumcaprice.com.au.

15. Yarra Valley, VIC
Only a one-hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley has all you need for a luxury weekend escape. Think great wine, 5-star food and accommodation, beautiful views and brilliant golf courses. Highly recommended is the newly opened Eastern Golf Club, which is a 27-hole Greg Norman design suited to all golfers and abilities. There are 18 holes currently in play with nine more to be completed this year. Run by the Eastern Golf Club is the No.1 boutique accommodation in the Yarra Valley, Yering Gorge Cottages, which are situated at the foot of the ranges looking out over the course and greater Yarra Valley. For more information, visit yeringcottages.com.au and easterngolfclub.com.au.

Another great course in the Yarra Valley is Yering Meadows. The course has  27 stunning holes and was designed by Ross Watson. Boasting new facilities, a modern clubhouse and uninterrupted views of the Yarra Valley, this also rates high on the Yarra Valley to-do list. See yeringmeadows.com.au for more.

16. Riverina, NSW
The Riverina’s natural assets are some of its most popular attractions – from national parks, to lakes and rivers. But the golf isn’t too shabby either. From Wagga Wagga, Narrandera and Hay golf clubs to further south in Jerilderie and Deniliquin, picturesque courses populated with wildlife and great hospitality are sandwiched in between endless accommodation and restaurants, all awaiting the unsuspecting visitor. Our tip – book your getaway during Taste Riverina, a month-long ‘menu of events’ during October each year that celebrate the year’s harvest by showcasing food, wine, beer and agricultural produce and experiences across 17 shires in the region. The golf will take care of itself. See tasteriverina.com.au for more.

The backdrop is as real as the golf is memorable at the breathtaking Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The backdrop is as real as the golf is memorable at the breathtaking Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand.

17. Queenstown, NZ
One of the most popular golf destinations in the world, headlined by Jack’s Point, The Hills and Millbrook Resort golf courses, Queenstown has it all and is a must-visit for every Aussie. Bordered by the spectacular The Remarkables mountain ranges, you can combine the region’s breathtaking golf courses with adrenalin sports, including skiing, jetboating, bungee jumping, skydiving and cycling. Then it’s time to lower the heart rate and hit the town’s many world-class restaurants, including the quaint little town of Arrowtown, where you’ll feel like you’re on the set of an old western movie. Our tip – sit yourself down in front of an open fire and try the local pinot noir, arguably the finest of its type anywhere in the world. You won’t want to leave. See queenstownnz.co.nz for more.

18. Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
Just 45 minutes south of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula offers some of the best food, wine and golf in South Australia. Situated on the cusp of the magnificent Lady Bay, adjacent to the seaside town of Normanville, you will find Links Lady Bay Resort, one of the most picturesque and challenging golf courses you will come across in Australia. As soon as you drive up to Links Lady Bay Resort, you will understand why this place is the jewel of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Ocean views, beaches, links golf, top-notch accommodation, amazing food and highly regarded cellar doors will make sure you escape in style on your weekend getaway. See linksladybay.com.au for more.

19. Bonville Golf Resort, NSW
There’s a reason why this place has received “Australia’s Leading Golf Resort” title four times by the World Travel Awards. Just 10 minutes south of Coffs Harbour lies one of the great play-and-stay destinations in Australian golf. Bonville Resort has it all, great public-access golf seven days a week, exceptional food and wine  – its restaurant has been awarded a Chef’s Hat – and great accommodation for the whole family. All this with some of the country’s best beaches just minutes away. See bonvillegolf.com.au for more.

20. Norfolk Island, NSW
Situated in World Heritage Kingston at the very southeasterly edge of Norfolk Island and overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Norfolk’s two offshore islands (Nepean and Philip), here is a destination you probably haven’t thought of visiting for golf, until now. The scenery is spectacular, and the nine-hole course presents challenges aplenty, even in perfect weather. Plus, there are picturesque convict ruins and structures, including the heritage clubhouse dotted throughout. The Hardy’s Wines Pro-am Golf Classic is the perfect opportunity for golf enthusiasts to experience what this place is all about. And there is just enough time during the week to soak up the sights and enjoy some of the island’s famous hospitality. Keep an eye out for the great package deals that are on offer for this year’s Norfolk Island Pro-Am Golf Classic from August 21-26. See norfolkislandgolf.com for more.

21. Kauri Cliffs, NZ

With a course painted on one of golf’s most beautiful canvases, New Zealand’s Kauri Cliffs is on every golfer’s bucket list. But there’s also a world-class restaurant serving up Pacific Rim fine dining and iconic Kiwi wines, award-winning oceanside lodge accommodation, a luxury spa and truly unique outdoor recreation. Boasting the 39th-ranked golf course on the planet should be reason enough for you to visit this wonderland, but if not, enjoying your own private beach or luxury spa while sampling some of the world’s finest sauvignon blanc and local produce should do the trick. Hey, if this place is good enough for billionaire Microsotft founder Bill Gates to visit regularly, it’s good enough for you. See kauricliffs.com for more.

Tasmania's Barnbougle Dunes, widely regarded as one of the finest links golf destinations in the world, is waiting for you.

Tasmania’s Barnbougle Dunes, widely regarded as one of the finest links golf destinations in the world, is waiting for you.

22. Barnbougle Dunes & Lost Farm, TAS
If you haven’t experienced this place yet it’s time to get serious. Two of the best golf courses in the world, not just Australia, have been carved into one of the most spectacular sites on the planet. Barnbougle Dunes (ranked No.4 in Australia) and neighbouring Lost Farm (6) dish up links golf in its finest form and are complemented with outstanding food, wine and customer service. Stay onsite in one of the numerous lodging options, including the 3.5 star cottages at The Dunes or the 4-bed deluxe villas and the luxury golf lodge at Lost Farm. Barnbougle has accommodation options to suit a range of budgets and group sizes. Visit barnbougle.com.au to book your unforgettable golf weekend.

23. Yamba, NSW
Recently voted Australia’s No.1 tourist town, Yamba is a unique beachside holiday and lifestyle experience suitable for all members of the family. Experience pristine beaches, lush national parks, beautiful waterways and plenty of leisure activities – all of which make Yamba a very special location to stay at. If you enjoy a friendly social environment and the fun and competition of a great day’s golf, a visit to Yamba Golf and Country Club is a must. Just a five-minute walk from the centre of town, it has all the latest facilities you’d expect from a modern sporting club. From the clubhouse and new back deck, you can enjoy picturesque views of the championship 18-hole golf course and watch an abundance of native Australian flora and fauna while enjoying a cold beverage or two.

The SeaFire Steak and Seafood restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, offering locally caught seafood. Get in touch with Yamba Golf and Country Club on (02) 6646 2104.

24. Bass Strait Masters, TAS
It could be the best new golf getaway in the country. The 2016 Bass Strait Masters is the first tour of its kind, and it’s right on your doorstep. Flying with Vortex Air, you will travel for four days and three nights to play both Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes on King Island, followed by more world-class golf at Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm. There will be a daily tournament on each course, crowning both an individual and team winner. Then, at the end of it all, the first winner of the Bass Strait Masters will be crowned. Experience Tasmania’s rugged charm as you tee off in style at each course. After every day’s play, your evenings will consist of relaxation, presentations of the day’s prizes by high-profile MCs and dining on fresh local produce, world-class cheeses and award-winning beef, all complemented with delicious Tasmanian wines. Salivating yet? Call on 1300 867 839 or visit
vortexair.com.au.

25. The National Golf Club, VIC
A key stopover in any Mornington Peninsula visit, The National is worthy of a visit on its own. Now boasting four outstanding golf courses following the acquisition of Long Island in Frankston North, the club is rated by many as the best golf facility in the country and provides interstate-access opportunities at its three-course Cape Schanck home via a request and letter of introduction from your club. Master the world-class Old, Moonah and Ocean courses and stay just minutes away at Cape Schanck House, an award-winning, architecturally designed custom built home that has received national acclaim (best house, national Royal Australian Institute of Architects awards). See nationalgolf.com.au for more.

Cypress Lakes Resort is one of several courses that make the NSW Hunter Valley one of the most popular weekend getaways in Australia.

Cypress Lakes Resort is one of several courses that make the NSW Hunter Valley one of the most popular weekend getaways in Australia.

26. Hunter Valley, NSW
The Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s premier wine growing districts and spoilt for golf courses. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away from the city, or wish to sample the wine grown from the many vineyards, the Hunter Valley is the destination you’ve been looking for. Visit as many of the 80 wineries in the region as you can, sample some of the finest cuisine in the state outside Sydney, stay in beautiful country hotels and guesthouses or even go aloft in a hot air balloon at dawn. And for some golf? Let All Around The Vines drive your group to and from your game. You will be collected from your place of accommodation in an air-conditioned bus and then get taken to your chosen course. The company offers three to six-day tours including accommodation and transfers to and from the courses. Your choice of championship layouts includes The Vintage, Hunter Valley Golf, Cypress Lakes Resort, Pacific Dunes, Horizons and Newcastle Golf Club. Call 0459 145 065 or visit allaroundthevines.com.au for more.