Cape Wickham tops Australian Golf Digest’s list of Australia’s best golf courses

Australian Golf Digest has named Cape Wickham as Australia’s best golf course according to their latest 2023/24 rankings list.

Cape Wickham on Tasmania’s King Island has risen to the top of Australian Golf Digest’s biennial rankings, surpassing the long-revered Royal Melbourne. And not surprisingly, it’s created a stir among the local, and international golf community.

This move marks only the second time in 40 years that Royal Melbourne has been displaced from the number one spot. Cape Wickham’s elevation has raised eyebrows and will certainly sell magazines. After all, that’s what these lists are for right? they’re good fun, subjective and should be treated as such.

Interestingly, Australian Golf Digest’s American, Golf Digest ranked Cape Wickham at 12 in the world in their most recent rankings, one spot behind Kingston Heath. Royal Melbourne West was listed as the world’s fourth best golf course.

The decision to crown Cape Wickham as Australia’s best golf course comes after a thorough evaluation process by a panel of 277 judges who pay to be a part of the process. They visited over 800 golf courses across Australia, providing over 7,000 evaluations that rate against seven criteria. Shot Options, Challenge, Layout Variety, Distinctiveness, Character, Aesthetics, Conditioning. The format was also tweaked several years ago to incorporate the all-important “fun factor”.

Cape Wickham’s score of 72.62 out of 80 edged out Royal Melbourne’s score of 72.40, highlighting the narrow margin by which Cape Wickham claimed the top spot. Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 editor, Steve Keipert, emphasized that while Royal Melbourne remains a world-class destination, Cape Wickham’s exceptional attributes simply could not be ignored.

“It’s a result that will turn heads, induce eyerolls and, no doubt, draw criticism. How can any course other than Royal Melbourne be considered our best, you might ask?”, Keipert said.

“There are a few reasons and none of them are to do with Royal’s revered West course slipping in any way. In fact, the average score returned by our judging panel for the West has gradually risen in the past four rankings. On this occasion, it was simply passed – and by the barest of margins.”

Keipert joined Matt Mollica and Scott Warren on the Australian Golf Passport podcast to discuss the rankings and its well worth a listen. And if you need a hole-by-hole review of Cape Wickham Golf Links, here is one I prepared earlier.

Australian Golf Digest’s Top 10 Golf Courses in Australia:

  1. Cape Wickham, King Island, Tasmania
  2. Royal Melbourne (West), Victoria
  3. Kingston Heath, Victoria
  4. Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania
  5. Peninsula Kingswood (North), Victoria
  6. New South Wales Golf Club, New South Wales
  7. Barnbougle Lost Farm, Tasmania
  8. Royal Melbourne (East), Victoria
  9. Royal Adelaide Golf Club, South Australia
  10. Victoria Golf Club, Victoria

Want to hear more from someone who didn’t like the surprise news? Mark Allen didn’t hold back when discussing the rankings when he chatted to Nick O’Hern during a recent episode of the Talk to Me Birdie podcast.

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