Royal Melbourne reigns … Packer’s pride disappears from view… 18 holes not required.
Released every two years, the industry standard rankings of Australia’s best golf courses have just been released. Royal Melbourne (West) continues to reign supreme, but Kerry Packer’s masterpiece Ellerston has been omitted from the latest list … due to COVID. And in a significant new development, golf courses no longer have to be the standard 18 holes to qualify for inclusion.
Published exclusively by AUSTRALIAN GOLF DIGEST, the AGD Top 100 List has presented the judging panel with more than a few headaches this time around, as the pandemic severely impacted access to many layouts. However, with the exception of the very private Packer course, all the nation’s best have been assessed and ranked.
“Nine hole courses – or, more specifically, courses with fewer than 18 holes – had previously been ignored by our 18-holes-only mantra. But, just as were seeing in golf more broadly, we’ve decided this is an attitude that needs updating,” notes Australian Golf Digest Top 100 editor Steve Keipert.
“So from this latest ranking cycle forward, we welcome any golf course in Australia, regardless of how many holes it has. And to break the ice, the extremely fun 14-holer Bougle Run in Tasmania has debuted at an impressive 63rd position.”
THE AGD TOP 100 – KEY TALKING POINTS
- Royal Melbourne (West) remains Australia’s premier golf layout, followed by Kingston Heath, King Island’s Cape Wickham, fellow-Tassie entrant Barnbougle Dunes and Melbourne’s Peninsula Kingswood (North). The state of Victoria claims five of the top 10 spots on the list, with Royal Melbourne (East) in 8th spot and Victoria Golf Club in 9th. Tasmania has three courses in the Top 10, with Barnbougle Lost Farm in 7th.
- Kerry Packer’s super exclusive Greg Norman-designed Ellerston has been omitted from the latest rankings. It has been among our very best since being completed in 2001. However, this time around it has fallen victim to COVID. Various lockdowns and government restrictions (of which we have all been more than familiar with) meant that not enough members of the judging panel could access the Hunter Valley gem to properly rank it. It will no doubt return in two years’ time.
- More than 320 golf courses were assessed by the 140-strong judging panel, and rated against seven criteria. Shot Options, Challenge, Layout Variety, Distinctiveness, Character, Aesthetics, Conditioning. The format was also tweaked to incorporate the all-important “fun factor”.
- By and large, most regulars find themselves in a familiar position. However 14 courses dropped off the 2020 list, meaning 14 others made a return. Four courses were deliberated omitted from the list. Apart from Ellerston, Riverside Oaks (Bungool) has been severely impacted by two sets of floods, while Links Kennedy Bay and Pelican Waters are both in the midst of major renovations.