In 50 years of Australian Golf Digest, we’ve been fortunate enough to travel Australia – and the world – profiling the golf destinations we think you will love to read about and experience for yourself. There have been so many, in 600 issues of this magazine, that it was near impossible to narrow it down to just 50. So, these are not ranked, nor are they a definitive group of the absolute best. It’s just a list of 50 golf experiences that are fun, memorable, worth travelling long distances for or just quintessentially Australian. When travel restrictions ease and the world returns to some semblance of normal, you’ll have a guide to start booking your next golf trip – wherever in the world that may be.
1) DON’T BE THAT PERSON WHO HASN’T PLAYED BONVILLE
With sweeping doglegs and undulating fairways framed by towering gums, not to mention perfectly manicured fairways and greens, it’s obvious why Bonville Golf Resort has been dubbed ‘Australia’s answer to Augusta National’ since the Coffs Harbour-area property opened to acclaim in 1992. Every Australian golf fan needs to experience the majestic Bonville at least once – if not for the golf in a Jurassic Park-like setting, the world-class food and wine after your round. Very few golfers have been able to resist returning to this piece of paradise.
2) THIS IS IT. THIS IS AUSTRALIA’S MOST SPECTACULAR GOLF TOUR
If this isn’t the best golf trip in Australia, it’s certainly the most thrilling and spectacular. Picture your own cushy private jet – a Pilatus PC12 – taking you to Barnbougle to play the Dunes and Lost Farm courses, before jetting over Bass Strait to King Island so you can tee it up at Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes. Four of Australia’s most stunning layouts ranked within the top 15 in the country. It’s not made up – it’s Air Adventure’s Tasmanian golf tour.
3) PLAY & STAY IN HUNTER VALLEY HEAVEN
California can have the Napa Valley, because Australia has the Hunter Valley. One of the finest golf-and-wine trails in Australia is just two hours from Sydney, where golfers can stay and play at the incredibly enjoyable Cypress Lakes or the challenging and thrilling Greg Norman-designed layout at The Vintage. When you’re not on the links, treasured Hunter wineries such as Oakvale, Tyrrell’s, Brokenwood and Briar Ridge await. Wine not?
4) TAKE ON THE NSW SOUTH COAST SWING
If the New South Wales south coast has a problem, it’s that there are almost too many fun, quiet, affordable and panoramic courses to choose from. While the jaw-dropping cliffside course at Narooma and the Augusta-like topography of Mollymook (Hilltop) get all the deserved plaudits, the south coast is littered with quality golf. From Club Catalina at Bateman’s Bay, to the 27-hole Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club and seaside Tura Beach Country Club, golfers truly are spoiled for choice. And if golf isn’t enough to get you cruising down the Princes Highway, maybe the fresh oysters and whale watching will.
5) KALGOORLIE – THE BEST OF DESERT GOLF
It may be the most unique course in Australian golf, certainly one of the most visually striking. Kalgoorlie is a brilliant fusion of golf-course construction and harsh Australian desert. You’ll remember your first trip to Kalgoorlie Golf Course for the contrast of deep green fairways and greens weaving through the reddish-brown desert landscape. There’s a reason why the PGA Tour of Australasia makes an annual stop to this Graham Marsh design.
6) THE PRIDE OF PORT STEPHENS
“Incredible by nature.” It’s not only a brilliant tourism slogan for this stunning region two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Sydney, it’s also accurate. Port Stephens is home to the biggest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, but it’s also home to stay-and-play experiences at Horizons Golf Resort and Pacific Dunes Golf Club. Horizons is a championship golf course just 10 minutes from the exquisite cafés and restaurants at beautiful Nelson Bay, while Pacific Dunes is just a short drive from the golden beaches of Port Stephens.
7) SET FOOT ON ALISTER MACKENZIE’S SYDNEY SHOWSTOPPER
There’s a reason why Dr Alister MacKenzie’s New South Wales Golf Club garners worldwide attention and is perennially ranked in the top 50 courses on the planet. Actually, there are many reasons. Is it the incredible crescendo of walking up the hill at the par-5 fifth and seeing the fairway run dramatically down towards the ocean? Is it the heroic tee shot at the famous par-3 sixth? Or the stratospheric views from the 12th tee? What about the charming 13th with its green seemingly perched on the edge of the earth? There’s only one way to find out why the world raves about ‘New South’. And the icing on the cake is that St Michael’s Golf Club is just next door.
8) MORNINGTON GLORY
The 54-hole golf megaplex at The National is alone worth the trip to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. The rollercoaster layout of the National’s Old course used to be the centrepiece of the property, but you’ll fall in love with the classic design of the Moonah course and the new-look Gunnamatta course – Tom Doak’s renovation of the former Ocean course. But this picturesque part of Victoria also boasts an architectural masterpiece at St Andrews Beach, Moonah Links, The Dunes, Portsea and Sorrento. Add world-class restaurants and hotels and this destination is a must for Australian golfers.
9) UNMASK THESE BELLARINE BEAUTIES
The Bellarine Peninsula isn’t a rival of the Mornington, even though they stare at each other across Port Phillip Bay. No, it’s just another reason for golfers to visit Victoria. There’s the 100-year-old classic course at Barwon Heads, or the relatively new Thirteenth Beach Golf Resort (home to a European and Ladies European Tour event) as the region’s high-profile courses. But there’s also The Sands Torquay, Queenscliff, Curlewis, Portarlington and Anglesea to satisfy travelling golfers. Oh, and the Bellarine Taste Trail will have you tasting every drop from Curlewis and Scotchman’s Hill wineries to the impressive views across the bay at the Jack Rabbit Vineyard.
10) EXPERIENCE GOLF ON THE GLITTER STRIP
The Gold Coast has been quietly building an impressive spread of courses to entice golfers up to a warm and beautiful part of Australia previously known more for the nightlife at Surfers Paradise or the Gold Coast’s theme parks. The Grand Golf Club’s exclusive course tops the rankings, but there are also quality courses at Links Hope Island, Lakelands, Arundel Hills and RACV Royal Pines. Combined with the scenic hinterland and many wedding venues, the Gold Coast has a lot to offer.
11) JAM-PACK YOUR SCHEDULE IN BRISBANE
Typical of Queensland’s underdog mentality, Brisbane does not get enough credit among Australia’s major cities for the golf it can offer within an hour of the CBD. No Brisbane trip would be complete without testing yourself at Brookwater, the top-ranked course in Queensland and designed by the state’s favourite golfing son, Greg Norman, or the thoughtful layout at Royal Queensland. There’s also Brisbane Golf Club and Indooroopilly to make a trip to the River City worth your time. If you’ve got time, check out Keperra Golf Club and Wantima Country Club, to see the courses that multiple PGA Tour winners John Senden and Cameron Smith grew up on.
12) RAISE A GLASS ON ADELAIDE’S FOUR REDS TOUR
Without a doubt, Adelaide boasts one of the best golf and wine trails anywhere on the planet. You’ve got world-renowned courses like Royal Adelaide – blessed with delightful terrain and recently tweaked by Tom Doak – and wine regions like the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and Clare valleys, and McLaren Vale. The best way for a golfer to see Adelaide for the first time is the Four Reds tour, where you’ll play four of the most prestigious private golf clubs in Australia: Glenelg, Grange, Kooyonga and Royal Adelaide. 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.
13) PLAY THE BEST OF THE WEST IN PERTH
There’s a reason why Perth has produced a long list of talented golfers such as Hannah Green, Minjee and Min Woo Lee, Greg Chalmers, Nick O’Hern, Brett Rumford and Curtis Luck to name a few – because the variety and quality of courses are outstanding. In the city surrounds, there are star layouts such as Lake Karrinyup, Mount Lawley, Cottesloe and the Western Australian Golf Club, as well as Wembley and Melville Glades, and then there are resorts that demand you drive out of the city like Joondalup to the north, The Vines Resort to the north-east and Araluen to the south-east.
14) UNWIND ON THE MARGARET RIVER
Just a few hours’ drive south of Perth is one of Australia’s best golf and wine trails. On the way down to the Margaret River is a handful of quality seaside courses such as The Cut, Links Kennedy Bay and Secret Harbour. Once you’re there, enjoy some of our country’s best cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. For chardonnay, look to Pierro, Cullen, Voyager and Fraser Gallop, while great cabernet sauvignon can be found at Woodlands and Cullen wineries. Oh, and for golf, hit up Margaret River Golf Club and Dunsborough Lakes. You’re welcome!
15) SOAK IT ALL IN ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
It’s pretty hard to beat what Queensland’s Sunshine Coast can offer a travelling golfer. There’s the physically breathtaking headlands and beaches at seaside towns like Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Coolum, where there is a stack of high-calibre golf, both resort and public. Twin Waters, Peregian Springs, Noosa Springs, Pelican Waters and Maroochy River, but there’s also the lesser-known layouts that Sunshine Coast specialist Adam Scott highlighted while he was back in Australia during the COVID-19 shutdown. Hit up Maleny, Caloundra and Mount Coolum golf clubs for the authentic Sunny Coast experience.
16) TRY TO GET ON CATHEDRAL LODGE
The hype surrounding Cathedral Lodge while Greg Norman was constructing this artistic layout, which oozes rustic Australian vibes, was because the last time the Shark was given carte blanche and a blank canvas on prime piece of land by a wealthy owner resulted in the Ellerston masterpiece. Cathedral Lodge, set in the Cathedral Ranges near Alexandra, two hours out of Melbourne, has become a bucket-list experience in Australian golf for its design quality and American-style theme of an ultra-private and exclusive golf club in a far-away parcel of land. Want to go the whole nine yards? Organise a helicopter to take you from Melbourne!
17) …AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, ELLERSTON TOO!
It won’t be easy (your most likely ‘in’ is those occasions when a foursome comes up as a charity-auction item), but it will be worth it. Ellerston is arguably the most exclusive golf course in Australia and has been dubbed, by Australian course architect Darius Oliver, as “the most extraordinary golf course built in Australia since the Great Depression”. Locked away in the secluded high country of the New South Wales Upper Hunter, this golf course was the brainchild of a proposition by the late Kerry Packer to Greg Norman to build him Australia’s toughest and most spectacular golf course. The result is a masterpiece carved out of natural valleys and tumbling hills, with an enchanting palette of colours that will leave an impression on your appreciation of course architecture.
18) THESE HARBOUR-CITY HOT SPOTS ARE A MUST
Not even Sydneysiders truly appreciate how world-class the Harbour City is for a golf getaway. For good reason, most think of a spectacular stretch of coastline that includes New South Wales, St Michael’s and Royal Sydney golf clubs. But the more inner-city private clubs stand up to their eastern neighbours, with The Australian, Bonnie Doon and The Lakes within a stone’s throw of the airport and CBD – perfect for visiting golfers. There are also unique sub-regions for golf in Sydney, like the Northern Beaches, where golfers can enjoy Terrey Hills or the seaside Long Reef, while western Sydney packs a punch with Concord and Castle Hill. Cap it off with seafood lunches and English pubs surrounding Sydney Harbour and you’ve got one of the best major city golf destinations in the world.
19) THERE’S MORE GOLF TO SYDNEY THAN MEETS THE EYE
West may not be best when it comes to Sydney’s golf offering, but it’s certainly a treat to play the finest courses on the western side of the Anzac Bridge. The heavyweights of this part of the city are Twin Creeks and Stonecutters Ridge, both enjoyable tests of golf and both former hosts of the NSW Open. There are also stellar private courses in Concord (the 2021 NSW Open host), which was recently enhanced by renowned architect Tom Doak, as well as Castle Hill, which has also gone through improvements under Bob Harrison. Publicly accessible gems like Camden Lakeside and Brighton Lakes have also undergone upgrades, making this one seriously underrated region for the travelling golfer.
20) GET THE TOUR-PRO TREATMENT
Want to be treated like a tour player? Get fit by the experts at Callaway or TaylorMade’s labs and you’ll feel like a tour player walking into an equipment van beside the practice fairway at a tournament. Head to TaylorMade’s Melbourne or Queensland labs and their highly trained master fitters can take an in-depth look at your golf swing, using their elite Motion Capture Technology, to determine your optimum combination of clubhead, shaft, grip and tuneable settings. For Callaway, a trip to their Performance Centre in Melbourne is a fun experience; alternatively you can get the custom treatment with one of their authorised fitters across the country.
21) SEE WHY TOPTRACER IS TRANFORMING THE DRIVING-RANGE EXPERIENCE
Toptracer has truly revolutionised hitting range balls. Dial in your data using Toptracer’s launch monitors. Go through your bag and learn your true carry and roll-out distances. Play an entire 18-hole round on a virtual screen. Get some mates together for a virtual nearest-the-pin competition. In Perth, head to Whaleback Golf Club. On the Bellarine Peninsula, Victorians can find Toptracer at Curlewis Golf Club. In Melbourne, it’s Yarra Bend Golf Club and LaTrobe Golf Park. In Queensland, Toptracer is available at Golf Central Brisbane. In Sydney, head to The 19th in western Sydney or Golf Paradise in the north. And the good news is: there are more Toptracer venues to come.
22) DRUMMOND GOLF’S SWING SUITE COULD BE THE SECRET TO LOWER SCORES
A session with the experts at Drummond Golf may be the most valuable 30 minutes you’ll spend in your golf life. Drummond’s state-of-the-art MiMatch fitting experience takes your unique golf characteristics and compares them against all the leading equipment manufacturers and then selects the clubs that best suit your game. You’ll hit balls as a Drummond expert dials in your individual swing metrics and you’ll be on your way to lower scores.
23) IS THIS THE BEST-VALUE GOLF ON THE PLANET?
It’s been said that Barnbougle, one hour north-east of Launceston, is the best value golf in the world. And you’d be a fool to argue given it’s only $145 to play all-day, unlimited golf at either the Tom Doak/Mike Clayton-designed Barnbougle Dunes or the Bill Coore-designed Lost Farm. The property alone has golf lovers travelling from all over the globe to sample this magical 38-hole creation that will soon reveal a brand new, 14-hole short course to the world. Barnbougle also paved the way for the spectacular King Island courses of Cape Wickham [pictured top] and Ocean Dunes. But there is plenty of golf to be sampled across the Apple Isle, including Ratho Farm, whose roots to Scottish immigrants in the 1830s provides a link back to the game’s origins, as well as member courses such as Royal Hobart, Tasmania, Kingston Beach, Claremont, Launceston, Devonport and Ulverstone golf clubs.
24) SANDBELT GOLF HAS TO BE NEAR THE TOP OF YOUR LIST
Australia is blessed to have a region like Melbourne’s Sandbelt, which is internationally accepted as one of the game’s very best. Less than 30 minutes south-east of the Melbourne CBD lies a region blessed with natural undulation and sandy loam subsoil that has given rise to architecturally celebrated courses Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Victoria, Metropolitan, Commonwealth, Huntingdale, Yarra Yarra and Peninsula Kingswood. Stay in the Melbourne CBD, we recommend the Crown Casino or in the Southbank area, and soak up Melbourne’s wide variety of world-class restaurants, cafés and popular laneways.
25) PLAY YOUR BEST WITH McCULLY GOLF SCHOOLS AND JASON LAWS–GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS
From beginners to Marc Leishman, golfers of every ability can benefit from lessons with a PGA professional. Australia boasts a long list of coaches celebrated as among the very best in the world. In fact, many of our top players such as Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman still use their long-term Australian instructors. And if you’re going to get a lesson, head to the best gurus in the country at their established golf schools, such as the Jason Laws Academy in Newcastle, the Glenn McCully Golf School at Yarrawonga (three hours from Melbourne) or Grant Field’s academy at Pelican Waters on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
26) PLAY WITH A PRO IN A PRO-AM
Although pro-ams are a wonderful opportunity to get up and close with your favourite golfers, they are also an excellent learning experience for how professionals manage their way around the course. Pro-ams typically don’t come cheap, so we recommend getting three of your friends together so the experience can be relived again and again. The Australian Open and PGA Championships are where you are a chance of getting paired with European Tour, PGA Tour and Australasian Tour stars. But there are also fantastic tournaments like the Vic Open where you can play with men and women tour pros.
27) PLAY ALL THE ROYALS
Australia’s handful of Royal golf clubs are a mixture of some of the best and oldest courses in the country. Obviously, the East and West courses at Royal Melbourne are a bucket-list experience for any golfer. But have you played the treelined Royal Hobart, where Jack Nicklaus won the 1971 Australian Open by eight shots? How about Royal Sydney, which was founded in 1893? The beautiful piece of golf terrain perched near Sydney Harbour with one of the most iconic final approach shots in Australian tournament golf? Or the spectacular Royal Adelaide which has just been polished by Tom Doak? Then there’s much-improved layouts at Royal Canberra and Royal Queensland, as well as Royal Fremantle and Royal Perth in Western Australia.
28) SEE WHY NEWCASTLE IS ON THE RISE
Newcastle Golf Club, located at Stockton, has wowed golf course architecture fans for decades. With its proximity to the Hunter River and the Pacific Ocean, Newcastle has some of the best golf terrain in Australia courtesy of rolling sandhills and rugged Australian bushland. Its routing takes golfers up, over and around the site’s heavy slopes and it’s also home to one of the best par 3s in Australia, the seventh, while the 10th is a celebrated par 5. While you’re in town, check out Mereweather and Belmont golf clubs.
29) PLAY “HOGAN’S HOLE” AT NAROOMA
No golf lover’s résumé is complete without playing the famous par-3 third at Narooma Golf Club, nicknamed ‘Hogan’s Hole’ after a Winfield cigarette commercial was filmed in the water below the cliffs in the mid-1970s, starring comedian Paul Hogan. But this brutally exposed and spectacular par 3, which measures 141 metres, didn’t need a TV ad to attract hype. The mesmerising views across the Tasman Sea and treacherous dangerous ocean carry help the third remain among Australia’s most memorable holes.
30) PLAY THE OLDEST COURSE IN AUSTRALIA
Pay homage to the oldest golf course in Australia, Ratho Farm. You may (and should) play the course with hickory clubs, opening and closing the various farm gates between holes as your mind harks back to the 1800s when golf was first played there. Six ‘lost’ holes were restored a few years ago based on maps, photographs and scorecards. For those seeking a longer stay, Ratho’s character accommodation consists of old farm buildings – a bakery, cookhouse, granary loft, stables and more – lovingly restored into boutique rooms with modern features while retaining elements of the original masonry and carpentry. Along with the nearby Australasian Golf Museum at Bothwell, the pair makes for a quintessential double act.
31) PLAY THE MOST-HYPED NEW COURSE ON THE SANDBELT
Peninsula Kingswood’s redesigned North course has been the talk of the town for a year or more. Geoff Ogilvy even remarked it is now third behind only Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath as his top-three courses in Australian golf. The hype is justified with the restoration by the OCCM firm catapulting it to No.6 on our Top 100. Its thoughtful design, rustic bunkering and sand scrub, as well as some of the best greens in the country, could see it climb even higher in the future. Make sure ‘PK’ is on the itinerary for your next Sandbelt trip.
32) COMPLETE THE ‘LEISH’ EXPERIENCE
Warrnambool Golf Club, a three-hour drive from Melbourne, is a wonderfully enjoyable shrine to five-time PGA Tour winner Marc Leishman. The club renamed the driveway into the course after its favourite son while his own beer company, Leishman Lager, is now on tap in the clubhouse. So, complete the trifecta: enter via Marc Leishman Drive, play 18 at his home course and have a Leishman Lager post-round!
33) COMMUTE BY FERRY TO HAMILTON ISLAND GOLF CLUB
One of the world’s most breathtaking courses has a unique commute: by ferry. Hamilton Island Golf Club, designed by the late Peter Thomson and his design partner Ross Perrett, is actually located on Dent Island, meaning golfers board a ferry across the waters of the Whitsundays to this spectacular layout. The course boasts 360-degree views across the adjacent passages and surrounding islands, enjoyed best from its par 3s and the finishing stretch from the 13th to 18th which looks across the Coral Sea.
34) PLAY THE KING’S ONLY AUSTRALIAN COURSE DESIGN
Nestled among a pine forest and the Gold Coast’s waterways lies the Pines course at Sanctuary Cove, the only course in Australia designed by seven-time Major winner Arnold Palmer and his company. Unless you’re a member, to play you’ll have to stay at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort – but that is a treat in itself.
35) PLAY EVERY AUSTRALIAN COURSE ON THE WORLD’S TOP 100
Have you played all 13 courses that made GOLF DIGEST’s Top 100 Coures in the World? Try to tick off Royal Melbourne (West), Kingston Heath, Barnbougle Dunes, Ellerston, Cape Wickham, Royal Melbourne (East), New South Wales, Barnbougle Lost Farm, Victoria, Metropolitan, Royal Adelaide, St Andrews Beach and The National (Moonah).
36) IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED IN IRELAND, YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED GOLF
Every golfer needs to play through Ireland at least once in their life. With a combination of easy access to the world’s best courses, country pubs, historic castles and live music, Ireland should be near the top of your list once international travel resumes. You can choose to rent a car from Dublin Airport and drive across the country, playing every top-ranked course from Old Head to Waterville, Ballybunion to Lahinch, and every delightful, unheralded course in between. Or, you can stay in Dublin the whole time and play the world-renowned Portmarnock, the European Club and The Island while checking out Dublin’s whiskey distilleries and the Guinness factory. With either option, the Guinness will taste just as good.
37) BE BLOWN AWAY BY NEW ZEALAND
With some luck, a trans-Tasman bubble will open up soon and New Zealand will be the first country Aussie golfers can escape to. Take a direct, three-hour flight to the South Island’s magical Queenstown and play The Hills, Jack’s Point, Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown and Queenstown Golf Club before you head off to other destinations such as Wanaka or Christchurch. On the North Island, the American-owned Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers resorts should be a target, as should the country’s best layout, Tara Iti, as well as Kinloch, Alister MacKenzie’s Titirangi and the Wellington area’s best: Paraparaumu Beach.
38) TICK OFF ENGLAND’S BERKSHIRE AND SURREY REGIONS
They may be the least talked-about among the bucket-list golf regions of the world, but England’s Berkshire and Surrey areas boast a mouth-watering list of courses. Surrey is renowned for being the home of the Wentworth, host of the European PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup venue, but there’s also the gorgeous inland links at Walton Heath as well as St Georgre’s Hill. In Berkshire, you’ll have heard of Sunningdale, with its 36 holes of Heathland heaven, as well as The Berkshire and Swinley Forest. Both regions are less than an hour’s drive from London.
39) ATTEND AN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
If you’re ever going to attend a Major championship, and you should, no doubt the Masters and the Open Championship stand out among the four big events. The Open is special and unique for its history, exciting venues and unpredictability. Although travel is almost impossible now, future venues will have golf fans salivating. COVID-19 pushed the 149th Open at Royal St George’s back to 2021, but after that the hosts include St Andrews’ Old Course, Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) and Royal Troon.
40) WATCH THE MASTERS AT AUGUSTA
Attending the Masters at Augusta National is among the most religious experiences a golfer can have in their life. Thankfully, there are plenty of Aussie tour operators taking fans to the Masters every year who can map out your entire itinerary, including tickets to the Masters, accommodation near Augusta National and rounds of golf in the area or on the way to Georgia – in places such as Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. Experience this tradition unlike any other at least once.
41) PILGRIMAGE TO SCOTLAND
A sentimental trip to the home of golf will be one of the most memorable trips of your life. Base your golf holiday around a pilgrimage to St Andrews’ Old Course, but put Muirfield, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, North Berwick, Trump Turnberry (Ailsa), Royal Troon and Cruden Bay on your itinerary. Like Ireland, Scotland offers some truly majestic castles, pubs and history off the course, so go ahead and enjoy arguably the greatest all-round golf destination on the planet.
42) ISLAND GOLF IN HAWAII
Let’s face it, you’ll go to Hawaii at some point, so why not make a golf trip out of it? America’s Aloha State is only an nine-hour flight from Australia’s east coast and combines the elements of a beach holiday with some truly world-class and spectacular oceanside – and volcano-side – golf. A majority of Hawaii’s best layouts are on the ‘Big Island’, like Nanea, Mauna Kea Golf Club and Kuki’o Golf & Beach Club, so you’ll want to hop over to the Island of Hawaii. But there are some quality courses on Oahu, such as the famous Turtle Bay Resort, Waialae Country Club and Ko Olina Golf Club, while a trip to Maui would offer the chance to play Kapalua’s memorable Plantation course, as well as Makena and Wailea golf clubs. We recommend going in early January so you can attend the elite Tournament of Champions on Maui or the Sony Open in Honolulu – or both, given they are held in back-to-back weeks!
43) G’DAY, USA
Under normal circumstances, the USA is one of the most enjoyable and convenient countries in the world for a golfer to visit. There are so many golf destinations throughout the country that multiple trips may be warranted. There’s northern California, where you can start with the Cal Club and San Francisco Golf Club before making your way down to the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Resort. There are stand-alone destinations such as Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Sand Hills in Nebraska, Pinehurst in North Carolina and Florida’s remote Streamsong resort. Then there are big cities and regions famous for a series of top courses, such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York’s Long Island. Take your pick!
44) SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL TEAM AT A PRESIDENTS CUP
Sadly, the biennial teams event between the International side and the USA won’t be returning to Australia for some time after Royal Melbourne hosted the 2019 edition. But that’s why the Australian players on the International squad will need your support! Whether you self-organise or go with a tour group like the Fanatics, the Presidents Cup is a wonderful event for golf fans to watch in person. Whether you are eyeing off the 2022 Cup at North Carolina’s Quail Hollow Club (home) or the 2024 edition at Royal Montreal in Canada (International), you’ll have a ball.
45) ADD “RYDER CUP ATTENDEE” TO YOUR RESUME
The Ryder Cup is not only one of the very best events in golf, it’s one of the most compelling sporting spectacles in the world. Few sporting rivalries can offer the authenticity and drama that Team USA and Team Europe offer, and it’s only getting better each edition. The atmosphere on the first tee on day one of a Ryder Cup is a rite of passage for any golf fan and will greet us in September 2021 when the postponed 2020 event is held at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits. After that, the venues are a sports lover’s dream: Rome, Italy in 2023, Bethpage, New York in 2025 and Adare Manor, Ireland in 2027. Get ready!
46) PLAY GOLF ON THE MURRAY
Ever played golf along the third longest navigable river on the planet? If you haven’t played golf beside the Murray River, you’ve missed a sleeping giant of Australian golf. There are 37 courses lining the banks of the Murray, including its new number one, Black Bull Golf Course, Rich River Golf Club Resort and Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort. This majestic stretch of water has always offered more than just a rich education on Australia’s pioneer settlement, legendary fishing and a scenic border separating New South Wales and Victoria.
47) PLAY MARATHON GOLF ON THE NULLARBOR
This is one to tick off: Nullarbor Links is the most spread-out golf course in the world. It’s a rare compilation layout, spanning 1,365 kilometres and cherry-picking holes from multiple courses along the Eyre Highway. Depending on which direction you’re travelling (east to west is advisable), the course begins in Ceduna, South Australia, and concludes at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Several of the 18 are existing holes from other courses, such as Ceduna, Eucla, Norseman and Kalgoorlie. Others are purpose-built in notable locations, such as the 160-metre sixth hole, which can be found at Border Village, just 50 metres on the SA side of the West Australian Agricultural Checkpoint. Artificial greens on some holes stand out from the red dirt in a uniquely Australian contrast.
48) VIRTUAL GOLF (PGA TOUR 2K21)
In these indoor times, the PGA Tour 2K21 video game is an incredibly enjoyable time filler. The highly anticipated game features a roster of 12 tour professionals, including Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau, together with 15 licensed courses from around the world such as TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, and Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
49) PLAY AUSTRALIA’S BEST MINI-GOLF AND PUTT-PUTT COURSES
Mini-golf, or putt-putt golf, can be loads of fun with the family. There are some truly remarkable mini-golf courses in our country, such as the new miniature layout at Curlewis Golf Club just outside Geelong, as well as Yarra Bend in Melbourne, the two courses at Thornleigh Driving Range in Sydney, the KDV Sports Centre on the Gold Coast and the spectacular setup at Wembley Golf Course in Perth.
50) FINALLY, KEEP TICKING OFF OUR TOP 100 COURSES LIST
Australia is spoiled for choice with world-class golf. While we cannot travel internationally is a great time to tick off all the courses in our own backyard that our panel of experts has rated the best 100 in the nation. Start with those in your home state until the premiers begin to open them up and we can travel interstate. Once you get down to the top five – New South Wales Golf Club, Barnbougle Dunes, Kingston Heath, Cape Wickham and Royal Melbourne (West) – you’ll be pleasantly reminded we live in the greatest country in the world… for so many reasons.