The landscape and coastline found in Oceania is a dream for golf course designers. But where do our favourite courses there rank in our World’s Top 100? Let’s take a look…
Royal Melbourne Golf Club – West Course, Australia
Designed by legendary Scottish architect Dr Alister MacKenzie and opened way back in 1931, we rank West Course as Oceania‘s finest and the 12th best in the world. It’s a rugged layout full of dramatic undulations, and while the pristine fairways are generous for higher handicappers, they are accompanied by stylish and strategic bunkering, native grasses and vegetation. The lightning quick and contoured greens, framed perfectly by trees and steep traps, are probably the finest in Australia.
Spectacular cliffs, reminiscent of California‘s Torrey Pines, are the signature of this stunning Tom Doak design near Hawkes Bay on the country’s North Island. The par-5 15th hole, named Pirates Plank, is the signature. It plays 800 feet above the Pacific Ocean with perilous drops on both sides, and is part of a back nine which extends along several breathtaking fingers of land separated by deep gullies.
Dr Alister MacKenzie also had a hand in the design of this historic course which dates back to the 1920s. He advised on bunkering and those here are among the best in the world, with bands of white sand nudging the fairways and encircling the tricky greens. The holes and hazards seamlessly integrate themselves into the native vegetation and grasses here, giving the Kingston Heath both trickery and charm. The signature is probably hole 3, a 301-yard par 4 that’s reachable with a driver for those brave enough to take on the bunkers.
The closet you’ll find to a traditional seaside links in Australia. Built on a fantastic stretch of sand dunes along the Bass Strait, The Dunes is a layout that could grace the shores of Ireland or Scotland. A 2004 collaboration between Tom Doak and Australian former golf pro Michael Clayton, there’s wide fairways routed through dunes, some 100-feet high. Many of the naturally contoured greens are surrounded by hollows and chipping areas rather than sand. The closing holes, played along the beach, will live long in the memory.
Originally designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, the views here over Sydney‘s Botany Bay rival those of the California coastline found at another of his creations, Cypress Point. New South Wales is an undulating link-like course that runs along rugged coastline with ocean winds playing a role in club selection. Excellent bunkering and quick greens with run-off slopes make this a tough challenge. The signature is the par-3 6th, a hole requiring great commitment with the tee box on a rocky outcrop overlooking the wreck of the SS Minmi.
This Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw creation is probably more playable than the nearby Barnbougle Dunes. Whereas that plays along classic seaside links, Lost Farm sits inside huge perimeter dunes. The signature hole is the 480-yard, par-4 5th, which features a dune-side green overlooking the river that separates this course from The Dunes. “It’s one of several holes at Lost Farm where people might say, ‘I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a hole like this before,’” Coore said.
Renovated by American Rees Jones in 2014, Kauri Cliffs is situated on a ridge with views of the stunning islands of Maturi Bay. Comparable to the iconic Pebble Beach, the layout incorporates natural gorges and cliff faces. The front nine makes its way downhill to the shore through thick fescue, while the back nine starts at sea level and ascends to the clubhouse. 15 holes have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea.