What are Australia’s hardest golf courses?

The Australian golf course ratings have been released by Golf Australia leading to a debate about Australia’s difficult golf courses.

One of Australia's hardest golf courses. Terrey Hills Golf Club.
Terrey Hills Golf Clubs, NSW (Photo: Aussie Golfer)

Golf Australia has released the full list of slope and scratch ratings for every Australian golf course, but do they say anything about course difficulty and tell us which is Australia’s toughest golf course?

The short answer is: well yes, kinda.

Australia’s hardest golf courses by scratch rating – Men

5-over par
Moonah Links Open Course, Vic – 77

4-over par
Terrey Hills Golf Course, NSW – 76
The Australian Golf Course, NSW – 76
Newcastle Golf Course, NSW – 74
Heritage St.John’s Course, Vic – 76
Sands Torquay Golf Course, Vic – 76
St.Andrews Beach, Vic – 70
Settlers Run Golf Course, Vic – 76
Hills International Golf Course, Qld – 76
Bell & District Golf Course, Qld – 71
Secret Harbour Golf Course, WA – 76

All ratings refer to black tees, all courses par 72.

Remember that scratch rating is the measured difficulty for a scratch golfer (handicap = 0).

The slope is a measure of how much more difficult the course is for a higher handicapper and is calculated by including a bogey rating (not listed by Golf Australia) which is the measure of difficulty for a golfer with a handicap of 18.

The slope rating is not a measure of golf course difficulty but just a measure of how difficult the course is for non-elite golfer compared to an elite golfer. The slope will be used to adjust a golfer’s handicap and will always be a number between 55 and 155 (more details here).

If we really do want to answer the question then perhaps we should really look at the scratch ratings assigned to each tee at every golf course.

So what golf course has the highest scratch rating in Australia?

For the men, Moonah Links Open Course has been rated the most difficult golf course in Australia with a scratch rating of 77, five shots more difficult than par for the scratch golfer off the black tees.

Australia’s most difficult golf courses by scratch rating – Women

7-over par
Royal Hobart GC, Tas – 80

6-over par
Narooma GC, NSW – 78
Croydon GC, Vic – 79
Kingston Beach GC, Tas – 77
Launceston GC, Tas – 78
Prospect Vale GC, Tas – 77
The Cut GC, WA – 78

Seven other golf courses were rated as being four shots harder than par for the scratch golfer; Terrey Hills, Newcastle Golf Club and The Australian in New South Wales, St.Andrews Beach, The Heritage St.John’s Course, Sands Torquay and Settlers Run in Victoria, Hills International and Bell & District GC in Queensland, and Secret Harbour in Western Australia.

For the women, the toughest course is Royal Hobart with a scratch rating of 80, a full seven strokes above par. Six other courses were scratch rated at 6-over par; Narooma, Croydon, Kingston Beach, Launceston, Prospect Vale and The Cut.

For the sake of completeness, Bonville International in New South Wales and Heritage Henley Course in Victoria were assigned a slope of 148, the highest slope rating in Australia.

But as mentioned, this doesn’t necessarily imply these are Australia’s toughest golf courses, merely a measure of how much more difficult they are for an 18-handicapper compared to a scratch golfer.

This will bring a lot of debate among golfers around the country and perhaps even bring with it greater notoriety for some golf courses.

Australian golf courses – Highest slope ratings state-by-state (Men)

Bonville, Tiger 148
Bonville, Blue 147
Cypress Lakes, Black 147
The Vintage, Black 147

Royal Hobart, Blue 133
Royal Hobart, White 132
King Island, Blue 132

Heritage (Henley), Gold 148
Eagle Ridge, Black 147
Cape Schank, Black 146

Western Australia
Joondalup Lake-D., Black 142
Joondalup Dune-Q., Black 141
The Cut, Black 140<

Brookwater, Black tee 144
Brookwater, Gold 141
Pelican Waters, 140

Northern Territory
Alice Springs, Blue 123
Darwin, Blue 123
Palmerston, Blue 123

South Australia
Links Lady Bay, Blue 140
McCracken, Blue 140
Glenelg, Black 139
Links Lady Bay, White 139

9 thoughts on “What are Australia’s hardest golf courses?

  • No Pacific Harbour G&CC? Wow! Come play there when its windy. You might need your driver for the 17th 😉

  • Cypress Lakes has a slope rating of 150 on the link you sent.

  • Yering meadows very tough

  • “It’s about hitting the ball in the center of the club face and hitting it hard.” -Bubba Watson

  • What about Nudgee Golf Club? Its a very hard course.

  • They need to go back to the original old system , of .1 back when you don’t shoot your handicap, and then lose .1/.2/.3 and so on , (depending on your current mark) multiplied by the number of shots you we’re below your handicap. ( if a12 marker has a 76 (on par 72) he has shot 8 below his h’cap = 8x.2 =1.6 shot deduction. So if he was on 12.2, he drops to 10.6 (plays off 11)…if he doesnt break his mark for 10 following rounds (quite common)…he will get 1.0 back each round…So now on 11.6 (now playing off 12 again)….It keeps every one around their true ability, without big fluctuations that are now occuring.

  • Ocean Shores 148 off the blue???
    Why no mention??


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