When it comes to putting the fun into golf, these Australian facilities, courses, resorts and companies are leading the way.
A recent study by the Australian Golf Industry Council revealed 9 million Australians are ‘interested’ in golf, of which less than 5 per cent are members of a club. The study also found 5.8 million of those Australians who are interested in the game have not yet played a round of golf. It all begs the question: how do we get them hooked? These Aussie facilities, courses, resorts and companies are leading the way.
Fun on the river
It’s already the crown jewel of golf on the Murray, but Rich River Golf Club continues to get better – and more fun. That’s thanks to a new mini-golf facility that has been hugely popular with keen golfers and non-golfers alike.
Rich River Golf Club has bolstered its facility in recent years to cover all bases. While the fantastic East and West courses are the centrepiece of the club, and are in pristine condition year-round, there is now also a 17-bay driving range and practice area, as well the above-mentioned mini-golf course and a new golf simulator. The clubhouse has also been renovated, making a post-round beverage or meal an irresistible rest stop.
For accommodation, Rich River offers 63 delightful rooms – one of which is an apartment big enough for eight people – for golfers seeking a truly memorable stay-and-play package. The accommodation complex surrounds a manicured lush garden that houses an outdoor pool, spa and barbecue areas. Rooms range from standard, deluxe and executive suites to the apartment, which is ideal for groups and wedding parties. richriver.com.au
Fun in the sun
Palm Lake Resorts, a group synonymous with creating fun, golf-based lifestyle residential communities for over-50s, has breathed life into Pelican Waters Resort since taking over the Sunshine Coast golf course in 2018, securing approval to renovate the clubhouse and driving range. The Greg Norman/Bob Harrison design has hosted the past two Queensland Opens and the Palm Lake Group is in the process of building a new clubhouse and world-class practice facilities – including a six-green short-game area. Yet perhaps most excitingly at a time when mini golf has never been bigger, Pelican Waters is getting a world-first Great White Shark mini-golf course that will be as popular with resort guests as the residents in surrounding suburbs and beyond. Palm Lake Resort’s newest locations also offer state-of-the-art golf simulator rooms where residents and their guests can tee off on 19 different courses from around the world – and get home in time for lunch. The group also has plans to deliver more than 33 hectares of rehabilitated conservation land to the community around Pelican Waters. palmlakeresort.com.au
A seaside community
Links Shell Cove might be the most entertaining and welcoming facility in Australian golf. Owned and operated by Shellharbour City Council since April 2008, Links Shell Cove has a vision to put golf at the centre of leisure activities in the Shellharbour region, south of Sydney. You’ll see all walks of life sharing a beverage or a meal together at the Shell Cove Tavern, a modern twist on a golf clubhouse that secured the services of popular restaurant Il Lago Pizzeria, or at the function space called The Shed. Out on the course, The Links is a fantastic links-style layout that has golfers driving from all over New South Wales to play. The outward eight holes at The Links are tucked in a valley and lead towards the natural wetlands, while the inward 10 wrap around the hill and offer views of Killalea Lagoon. Shell Cove has also introduced a mini-golf facility thanks to Shanx Mini Golf and has been a huge hit with locals. linksshellcove.com.au
An instant classic
Shanx Mini Golf is leading the way in introducing non-golfers to the game by offering fun and relaxed mini-golf courses in two locations, Regency Park in Adelaide and Links Shell Cove on the NSW South Coast. Their highly enjoyable mini-golf layout has been a huge hit in Adelaide and complements the existing nine-hole course at Regency Park. The addition of the mini-golf course is expected to increase visitation to Regency Park to 85,000 a year from 50,000. At Links Shell Cove, the Shanx mini-golf course adds to the already popular and wildly fun links-style course that is a 90-minute drive from Sydney. shanxminigolf.com.au
Full of Hope
Test your short-game skills at Gold Coast favourite Links Hope Island and rediscover just how fun golf can be when you choose more old-school options than just reaching for the lob wedge. Green complexes at Links Hope Island will have you choosing between a hybrid, a 9-iron bump-and-run or even a putter when you miss the green. But that’s not to say the long game isn’t a thrill at Links Hope Island. Try the water-carry tee shot at the par-3 17th to see what we mean. linkshopeisland.com.au
The golf resort that started it all is now a fun destination for the entire family. Inland from the Gold Coast is Kooralbyn Valley, a hinterland retreat that has re-established itself decades after the iconic course burst onto the golf scene in 1979. The Desmond Muirhead design was the first resort-style layout of its kind in Australia and helped introduce the concept of cart golf to Australians. After closing for six years from 2008, The Kooralbyn Valley has relaunched as a family-friendly resort with multiple eating options from fine dining restaurant cuisine to pub-style meals. More than 100 rooms accommodate guests who have access to the resort’s swimming pool and health spa as well as all the natural attractions and outback farm experiences in the surrounding Scenic Rim. thekooralbynvalley.com.au/golf2
Home on the Farm
It may be the most pure and tranquil golf getaway in Australia, and we don’t make that claim lightly. Ratho Farm takes golfers back to the genesis of the game in Australia with 18 holes routed around its old homestead and shearing shed at Bothwell, in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. Ratho pays homage to the Scottish settlers who brought golf to the Clyde River Valley in the 1820s. As such, Ratho Farm is believed to be Australia’s oldest golf course. The accommodation is just as rustic and beautiful as the golf course – restored convict cottages and farm barns have been equipped with modern appliances for a comfortable stay in a stunning setting. Up to 34 people can be accommodated in the cottages, which have access to the homestead’s trout fishing and hiking trails in a location less than an hour’s drive north of Hobart. rathofarm.com/golf
Swings with a thrill
Name a nine-hole course, anywhere in the world, with more spectacular views, whose green fee is $35 or less and is located atop an iconic tourist beach… we’ll wait. Such is Bondi Golf & Diggers Club’s appeal that world-renowned golf course architect Tom Doak listed it as one of the seven ‘Best Bargains’ in his latest edition of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. With iconic Bondi Beach to the south and a sheer cliff face to the right, three tees sit alongside the edge of the continent for the ultimate swing with a thrill. There are eight par 3s and one par 4 at Bondi Golf & Diggers, whose popularity soared even higher during the pandemic for providing a fun, outdoor activity in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Did we mention the views? bondigolf.com.au
Fun is how many describe Maroochy River Golf Club, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The best thing is the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, because Maroochy River Mini Golf offers the option to play under lights on a warm summer night. Want more fun? Then have a go at picking the right club to take on the delightful, 130-metre, par-3 fourth hole. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner, regular golfer or a keen junior, Maroochy River has something for everyone. maroochyrivergolfclub.com.au
Mollymook Golf’s Hilltop course is widely considered one of the finest layouts on the NSW South Coast. The thrilling undulations of the hills, superb conditioning and floral gardens give Hilltop an undeniable resemblance to the famed Augusta National. Navigating the rollercoaster tee shots and approaches at Hilltop is among the most fun you can have playing golf in NSW. But Mollymook also has an incredibly relaxed and gorgeous nine-hole Beachside course, which is due to re-open in late December after exciting renovations. It’s just another reason to visit this fantastic duo of courses in a stunning part of the NSW coast. mollymookgolf.com.au
Breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding waterways greet golfers at Club Tuross, one of the most scenic nine-hole courses in the country. Golfers marvel at the sweeping vistas across the ocean from most areas of the course, but you get the best lookout from the fourth and fifth holes. Many players find themselves enjoying the round so much that nine holes simply isn’t enough, but thankfully Club Tuross has two sets of tees to create a thoroughly enjoyable 18-hole experience. Whether part of a South Coast getaway or a day trip to Club Tuross, this gem is a must-play on the spectacular NSW coastline. thcc.net.au
Woollahra Golf Club is one of Sydney’s most beloved nine-hole courses. Its location is special; surrounded by beautiful old trees in a parkland setting – just a stone’s throw from Sydney Harbour. Woollahra sits next door to Royal Sydney Golf Club and is treasured by regular golfers, beginners and social players alike, due to the par-34 layout offering a challenge, without being unnecessarily punishing to newcomers. None of the seven par 4s stretch longer than 357 metres, while the terrain is gentle and provides an enjoyable walk. All within proximity of the CBD and for an irresistible $30 green fee. woollahragolfclub.com
On two wheels
Looking for a way to amp up the fun factor? The introduction of Ampd Brothers Scooters to the Australian golf market is a win-win situation for all involved. A forward-thinking company gets a chance to grow in an industry that is already providing overwhelmingly positive feedback about Ampd Brothers’ sleek, cool and fun electric scooters. For golfers, these scooters offer an enjoyable new way to ride around a course – try playing 18 holes on their V1 Sumo KAA Fat Tyre scooter and you’ll be hooked. But perhaps the best thing about Ampd Brothers’ scooters is the independence they offer golfers. You can just ride up to each of your shots and focus on your game. This also saves considerable time, speeding up the pace of play. The Sumo KAA is also fitted with an RF-ID card to ensure no one can start your scooter but you (ampdbros.com.au).