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The coastline near Bridport, Barnbougle is home to two of the country’s top courses: The Dunes, a customary 18 holes, and Lost Farm, an unconventional 20. Both have a distinct personality: The Dunes is the straight-up difficult one; Lost Farm is more mischievous. On both courses, the rough will snatch errant balls before you can say “triple bogey”. But take heart: there are striking vistas (pastureland, Mount Arthur and the beautiful Anderson Bay) to temper the sting.
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Soothe golfer’s elbow with a tub in the new Ocean Villas or the onsite lodge-style accommodation at Barnbougle.
Hope Island, Queensland
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Visit Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club for its two feted courses: The Palms, which reopened in 2011 following a spectacular $8.8-million upgrade, and The Pines, designed by late golfing great Arnold Palmer. The Pines is private but guests of the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort can secure tee times. Nearby, Links Hope Island features undulating fairways and 128 pot bunkers. “Challenging but not demoralising” is how general manager Tracey-Lea Tiley describes it.
Stay: InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort
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Book a suite in the recently revamped InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort where the graceful 4000-square-metre swimming lagoon remains a highlight.
Mandurah, Western Australia
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With sensational views of the Indian Ocean and a tight, tough layout, The Cut delivers thrills aplenty – tactical play will reap rewards. Smart golf also pays dividends at The Links Kennedy Bay, where a profusion of pot bunkers (aka pits of despair) lie ominously in wait. Take heed of the warning on the website: “Any untamed bravado will be dealt with in the severest manner.” Closer to Mandurah, Meadow Springs Golf and Country Club has the George Clooney of courses: handsome, quietly complex and delivering equal measures of drama and charm. Players of all levels will relish the tuart-tree-lined fairways and large, true greens. STAY Centrally placed to access the region’s best courses and many local restaurants – Seashells Mandurah offers 64 apartments and villas well suited to travelling golfers. Post-game, chill beside the resort’s infinity pool.
The Bellarine, Victoria
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This region boasts four courses in Golf Australia’s Top 100. The Barwon Heads Golf Club is perfect for purists while Thirteenth Beach Golf Links has two championship courses: The Beach, where accuracy is a must, and The Creek, with a slightly more forgiving roll. Further north, Curlewis’s clubhouse exudes laid-back ease. Try the sweeping fairways at Portarlington GC or cross the bridge to Queenscliff GC on Swan Island, which has sensational views of the bay.
Stay: Barwon Heads
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Traditionalists will admire the feel of Barwon Heads’ heritage-listed clubhouse. Plus, there’s an extra nine-hole par-three course. As with most private clubs, strict dress codes apply. For something more extravagant, book the Starhaven Retreat, a guesthouse and B&B at Indented Head that features a cinema room, jet-stream spa and stunning views over Port Phillip Bay.
Gold Coast, Queensland
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First stop? RACV Royal Pines Resort – 27 lush holes renovated by design expert Graham Marsh and the new home of the Australian PGA Championship. You could also try the nearby Jack Nicklaus-designed Lakelands or Greg Norman-designed The Glades.
Stay: The RACV Royal Pines Resort
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The RACV Royal Pines Resort has upped the game with a recent $60-million-plus overhaul. Features include an impressive fitness centre, decadent spa, several restaurants and the Gold Coast’s only undercover tennis courts.
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On a beguiling stretch of coastline, Mollymook GC boasts two courses: 6225-metre 18-hole Hilltop, with soaring trees and attractive fairways, and nine-hole Beachside, with beach and ocean views.
Stay: Bannisters Pavilion
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Bannisters Pavilion is the place to be – and be seen. This latest addition to the Bannisters empire is a glamorous 35-room escape that combines the best of city-style service with a boutique sensibility and beach vibe. After a long day on the links, the rooftop pool (and bar) is the spot to unwind.
South Coast, NSW
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On the way down, take a pit stop for the impressive panoramas on the front nine at Narooma Golf Club. Once you hit Merimbula, the must-plays are Tura Beach Country Club, carved into the coastline by design masters Peter Thomson and Michael Wolveridge, and the 27 manicured, tree-lined holes at Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club. STAY At the Sapphire Coast end, Airbnb is your ticket to luxury; Sybella in Merimbula is an elegant five-bedroom lakefront home with all the trappings you could want, including a swimming pool, sweeping water views – and a spacious balcony from which to enjoy them.
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
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It’s easy to see why this area is so popular with golfers. Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, there’s a plethora of quality courses to choose from. Moonah Links, with its Peter Thomson-designed Open Course and the always-entertaining Legends Course, is a must-play. Then there’s the highly rated public course of St Andrews Beach, The National with its three spectacular courses designed by the likes of Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Stay: Peppers Moonah Links Resort
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This resort features a gym and heated outdoor pool and is located next to another local hotspot: Peninsula Hot Springs. Whet your golfing appetite and stay in an Open Room with stunning views over the first fairway from a private terrace.
Hamilton Island, Queensland
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Hamilton Island Golf Club is positioned so you can dive the Great Barrier Reef one day, and finish an 18-hole championship course the next. The course sits on its own island, Dent Island, with unmatched water views.
Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
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Conveniently situated amid North Island wine country, this internationally renowned course plays perfectly into the dramatic surrounds of the cliffs at the southern end of Hawke’s Bay. Designed by Tom Doak, the par-71 behemoth sits on a secluded property and slopes down towards the Pacific Ocean, giving up spectacular vantage points along the way.
Stay: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
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The 24 suites and owner’s cottage at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is more luxe than country; every lodge has a balcony with water views and there’s a notable restaurant, well-appointed clubhouse and spa facilities on the premises.
King Island, Tasmania
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King Island can add world-class golfing to its list of attributes, with the new Cape Wickham course making it onto the latest World’s 100 Greatest Courses list at a respectable 24. Keep an eye out for the quirky 18th hole – Victoria Cove beach is in play only at low tide. The island also boasts Ocean Dunes, one of the best public courses in the country.
Stay: Airbnb, King Island
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Airbnb is the way to go on King Island. Porky Beach Luxury Retreat, a four-bedroom beach house, has got it all: stunning views, fireplace, sauna, an outdoor hot-tub and all the mod-cons. Or there’s Wave Retreat, is a contemporary two-storey house that accommodates up to six people. It’s decked out with everything you’d expect, as well as a wood-fired heater and an inviting open deck with ocean views.
Queenstown, New Zealand
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The Remarkables make for an impressive backdrop to the acclaimed 27-hole championship course at Millbrook. The recipient of many awards, Millbrook Golf Course won’t disappoint enthusiasts. There’s a Bob Charles-designed masterpiece and three nine-hole delights including the Coronet Nine designed by Greg Turner. Don’t miss Jack’s Point, another intriguing course south of Millbrook positioned between the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu with more photo ops than you can shake a club at.
Stay: Millbrook Resort
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STAY: You can’t go past Millbrook Resort. This scenic five-star property has studios and stand-alone cottages. There’s an award-winning spa and four distinctly different restaurants to choose from – the waterside Millhouse Restaurant is a favourite.
Northern Perth, Western Australia
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Joondalup Golf Resort and The Vines Resort and Country Club are both less than an hour’s drive north of Perth and there’s only half an hour between them. Each is highly regarded and remarkable in its own way, but both are set in pristine natural surrounds. Joondalup sports 27 holes in total, nine each in the Quarry, Lakes and Dunes courses, while The Vines has two 18-hole gems. Public golfers are welcome at both courses.
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Tee off at the park/bushland setting of the 6013-metre course at Launceston Golf Club, the oldest 18-hole course in the state, or at the well-groomed Country Club Tasmania. Further west, try the tree-lined fairways of Devonport Golf Club and Ulverstone Golf Club. STAY Take up residence in the modern self-contained apartments at Two Four Two.
Central Coast, New South Wales
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Created in the style of Scottish links, the intriguing Ross Watson-designed course at Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club appeals to golfers of all levels. You’ll find two other worthy courses Watson had a hand in nearby, too: Horizons, with its famous 153-metre par-three hole 17, and Kooindah Waters, which features water hazards on every hole and 84 bunkers along the six-kilometre length of the course.
Stay: Pullman Magenta Shores
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Pullman Magenta Shores is located right on the beach and backs onto Tuggerah Lake. On the landscaped 21-hectare site there are three pools, a restaurant, casual café-bar and accommodation ranging from studios to three-bedroom villas. Best of all, guests benefit from access to the private Magenta Shores course.
Kinloch and surrounds, New Zealand
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Although The Kinloch Club features many aspects of classic links courses, it also merges parkland elements and makes the most of its scenic location by Lake Taupo. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course is regarded as one of the best in the country along with nearby Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, which lies within the native flora and fauna of Wairakei Tourist Park.
Stay: The Lodge at Kinloch
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The Lodge at Kinloch gives a nod to its Scottish namesake in its concept but its contemporary design frames the dramatic panoramas that surround it. The villas and suites are luxurious but understated with outdoor terraces, fireplaces and freestanding bathtubs.
The Hunter Valley, New South Wales
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The Vintage is an award-winning course designed by golfing great Greg Norman. His signature style is evident in the deep, rugged bunkers, the thought-provoking par fours and the daunting par three at the eighth hole. Neighbouring Cypress Lakes Golf & Country Club is a championship course with vineyard views, 60 bunkers and impressive greens.
Stay: Chateau Elan at The Vintage
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Chateau Elan at The Vintage has rooms and villas that look out over the fairways and the Hunter Valley plus a well-appointed day spa with 17 treatment rooms. The Spa Suites are spacious and secluded, while the villas offer similarly plush self-contained options.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
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Not far from the centre of Melbourne, the Eastern Golf Club is host to 27 holes of Greg Norman-designed brilliance. With five sets of tees, golfers of all skill levels will enjoy the course here, which is situated along the Yarra River and backs onto bushland reserve. There’s also a clubhouse, gym and practice facilities onsite. Make sure you play the 27-hole course designed by Ross Watson at the adjacent Yering Meadows while you’re in the area – it shares the same beautiful Christmas Hills backdrop.
Stay: Yering Gorge Cottages
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urn by the Eastern Golf Club, Yering Gorge Cottages offer one-, two- and four-bedroom standalone cottages by the Yarra River with scenic bush or fairway views. Spa baths, wood-fired heaters and private decks are all par for the course, as is access to the green for guests.
Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
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Less than an hour out of Adelaide, Links Lady Bay Resort is the number-one course in South Australia and attracts golfers with its challenging play and the gourmet wine and produce of the surrounding Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s links golf in true St Andrews style with the addition of stunning ocean views. STAY Choose a one-bedroom suite with private balcony and spas at Links Lady Bay Resort. There’s a day spa and restaurant on-site and plenty of wineries and restaurants to try less than 40 minutes’ drive away in McLaren Vale.
Murray River, New South Wales
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Along the Murray River, there are three courses at Yarrawonga Mulwala, making it Australia’s largest public-access course; the championship courses at Cobram Barooga Golf Club; the Murray Downs Golf & Country Club, past winner of the Victorian PGA course of the year; and 36 perfectly groomed holes at Rich River Golf Club Resort.
Up next: Top Golf Courses Any Keen Golfer Must Play
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