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Top 100 courses: Next in line - Australian Golf Digest Top 100 courses: Next in line - Australian Golf Digest

The calibre of courses to rank between 101st and 200th is an indicator of the depth in quality of Australia’s golf courses.

If the recent emergence of LIV Golf has taught us anything, it’s how in this game there’s still plenty of currency in running second. First place might carry all the glory, but in golf’s broad fields there is no dishonour in being the next best. And so it is as, for the second time after we debuted our ‘Next Top 100’ in 2020, we present the list of those courses knocking on the door of the main Top 100 Courses ranking, which was published in the May issue.

Tura Beach

The Next Top 100 is no exercise in damning with faint praise. With more than 1,500 golf courses scattered across Australia, taking a place among the 200 finest still positions these layouts in the top 13 or so percent of all our golf courses. At Australian Golf Digest, we’re also fond of saying – and the numbers back it up – that there is very little that separates the courses ranked in the realms of 70th to roughly 130th. Which is part of the reason why we like to unveil the total list a little further.

Alice Springs

Minimal volatility was a hallmark of our main ranking this time around, as no course to remain on the primary list moved by more than eight places, yet there was no such passivity in those ranked from 101st to 200th. Thirty-four of the courses listed here did not appear in 2020, either via promotion from beyond 200th (25) or demotion from the main ranking (nine). Likewise, several courses featured in the Next 100 two years ago bounced upward to the main ranking this time.

To illustrate how increasingly competitive it is to break onto either list, consider that in 2020 the 200th-ranked course achieved a score of 50.32 out of 80 compared to 52.59 this time. And how tight is the scoring in the second hundred compared to the first? For 2022, the gap between course No.100 and No.200 was a mere 5.3 points out of 80, compared to 16.5 points separating No.1 from No.100.

Royal Freemantle

This year our course-rating panel of more than 140 golfers provided scores for 321 different golf courses across the country – 58 more than in 2020 – which once again makes the 101-200 portion of the longer list more clearly defined than ever. To uphold the sanctity of the primary Top 100 Courses ranking, those ranked 101st to 200th are again listed alphabetically by state or territory and without individual rankings.

We said it in 2020 and it continues to hold true: the quality on this list represents an embarrassment of riches for Australian golf. 

RACV Royal Pines

The courses ranked 101 to 200 in Australia

New South Wales
Bathurst
Belmont
Bermagui
Brighton Lakes
cluBarham
Club Catalina (1-18)
Cromer
Duntryleague
Forster-Tuncurry (Tuncurry)
Horizons
Kooindah Waters
Lakeside Camden
Links Shell Cove
Long Reef
Lynwood
Macquarie Links
Manly
Moruya
Moss Vale
Mount Broughton
Murray Downs
Oatlands
Pambula-Merimbula (Championship)
Pennant Hills
Pymble
Rich River (East)
Rich River (West)
Riverside Oaks (Gangurru)
Ryde-Parramatta
The Coast
Thurgoona
Tocumwal (Presidents)
Tura Beach
Twin Creeks
Wollongong
Yarrawonga Mulwala (Murray)

Northern Territory
Alice Springs

Queensland
Bargara
Capricorn (Championship)
Coral Cove
Indooroopilly (East)
Indooroopilly (West)
Kooralbyn Valley
Maleny
Noosa Springs
Nudgee (Kurrai)
Palm Meadows
Palmer Gold Coast
Palmer Sea Reef
RACV Royal Pines (Green/Gold)
Rockhampton
Southport
Twin Waters

South Australia
Millicent
Mount Osmond
Tea Tree Gully
Copperclub at The Dunes Port Hughes
Waikerie

Tasmania
Tasmania
Ulverstone

Victoria
Ballarat
Club Mandalay
Eagle Ridge
Eastern (South)
Eynesbury
Flinders
Frankston
Gardiners Run
Growling Frog
Hidden Valley
Horsham
Keysborough
Lakes Entrance
Mornington
Northern
Portarlington
Queenscliff
Ranfurlie
Rosebud (South)
Sandhurst (Champions)
Sandhurst (North)
Shepparton
Southern
The Heritage (Henley)
The Sands Torquay
Waterford Valley
Yering Meadows (Nursery/Valley)

Western Australia
Albany
Araluen
Bunbury
Capel
Gosnells
Hartfield
Mandurah
Margaret River
Royal Fremantle
Royal Perth
Sun City
The Vines (Ellenbrook)
The Vines (Lakes)

Course snapshots

Bathurst, NSW

The town in New South Wales’ Central West famous for its motor-racing circuit has another sporting titan in the shadows of Mount Panorama. Bathurst Golf Club, where a young Peter O’Malley learned the game, is the third oldest in the state, dating back to 1894. The club also held the 1990 NSW Open. The course uses its ample undulations to great effect as several fairways rise and fall with the terrain, best illustrated by the snaking par-5 15th hole. One oddity: don’t flip your tee shot left on the par-4 11th. You might be able to see it but your sphere will wind up ‘doin’ time’, as Bathurst Correctional Centre sits beyond the trees lining the fairway.

Was it in the Next 100 last time? No

Has it made the Top 100 before? No

Duntryleague, NSW

Located just 50 or so kilometres away from Bathurst in the town of Orange, stately Duntryleague Golf Club has been a favourite among travelling golfers for decades. Whether drawn by the impressive historic mansion that is a feature of the property or by the golf course itself, those visiting experience a different look depending on the time of year. However, while the surrounding foliage changes with the seasons, the South African couch playing surfaces remain sublime all year. Blending handle-with-care short par 4s, like the 283-metre 14th hole, with robust tests, like the 434-metre opener, the Duntryleague layout has long owned a reputation as one of the finest regional golf courses in Australia.

Was it in the Next 100 last time?  Yes

Has it made the Top 100 before?  Yes

When?  1994 (93rd)

Growling Frog, Melbourne

Graham Marsh is responsible for designing a significant number of leading Australian golf courses. One that used to hover under the radar but has emerged from the ‘hidden gem’ category to sit nearer the spotlight is Growling Frog in Melbourne’s north. The course owns a memorable name and 18 holes to match. Environmental sustainability is a focus at Growling Frog, which is a haven for a variety of fauna – including the distinctive growling grass frog from which the layout derives its name – and runs on recycled water. As for the golf course, Marsh added character to a mostly open site through smart bunkering and his incorporation of the natural contours into the strategy of the layout.

Was it in the Next 100 last time? Yes

Has it made the Top 100 before? No

Copperclub at the Dunes Port Huges, SA

One of only two nine-hole courses in the Next 100 (there are none in the Top 100, although there is a 14-holer), the Copperclub layout on the eastern side of Spencer Gulf is remote but resourceful. While the club continues to hold out hope of one day expanding to 18 holes, the nine that have been in play since the course opened in 2008 have an in-built asset that allows for flexibility. The huge greens provide enough space to cut two separate holes in each, one for front-nine play and one for a second nine. So players wanting variety in an 18-hole round fire at the black flags on the outward journey and at the red-and-white flags on the inward nine.

Was it in the Next 100 last time? No

Has it made the Top 100 before? No

• Did you miss our Top 100 Courses issue in the May 2022 issue? The full ranking – and an explanation of the process and ranking criteria – is available at australiangolfdigest.com.au/australias-top-100-golf-courses-2022-23/