Top 10 – Favourite Golf Courses
This list represents my top 10 favourite courses that I’ve played.
The courses listed are the ones I have always enjoyed and look forward to playing each time I visit. They all consist of some of my unforgettable golfing memories, mostly good some bad.
10. HORIZONS GOLF RESORT – New South Wales
Reason: I have played this course a couple of times and it certainly keeps you on your toes for the entire round. Hit a wayward drive on this course and you’re 95% guaranteed to finish in a hazard or OOB. I finished 2nd to Marty Joyce in the 2004 NSW Trainee Championships after an up and down week. Thoroughly enjoyed staying in a nice apartment at the course with my caddy/wife Lauren and a few of the Vic Trainees.
Favourite Memory: Getting up there a couple of days early and living it up with the Mrs in the apartment overlooking the course. Simply awesome.
Least Favourite Memory: I was 1 shot behind the lead after the first round then a massive storm rolled through overnight between the 1st and 2nd rounds. I got no sleep, was tired and not in a good frame of mind for round 2. I shot 79 and walked off pretty unhappy. A few beers that afternoon with the boys and a good night sleep saw me shoot the best round of the week the next day… a 4 under 68 in trying conditions.
Favourite Hole: 8th Hole 153 metre par 3 – A nice par three over a hazard to a two tiered green. Plenty of trouble short and right with the hazard right next to the green and a bunker to the left if you bail out too much. Could make 2 or 5 quite easily.
Least Favourite Hole: 14th Hole 371 metre par 4 – Its actually a pretty good hole but it’s my least favourite for one reason. I’d be more over par on that hole than another other hole on the course.Never really played it well… either poor tee shot or poor second would lead to bogey here most times.
9. KEYSBOROUGH GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Reason: I spent three very enjoyable years doing my traineeship at the club. The members and staff were all very supportive of me during my traineeship. The course was always enjoyable to play but the friends I made and played golf with there make it a favourite place I look forward to playing.
Favourite Memory: Playing a quick 9 holes late one summers evening, I walked off the 5th tee to find a tortoise from the nearby pond laying its eggs in the path. It had dug its hole in the compacted sand and had laid about 6 eggs. It was an amazing sight at that time of day.
Least Favourite Memory: Taking a double bogey on the 18th hole to end up shooting 7 under in a trainee event… Even though I still won on the day, I had one of the rounds of my life going until I played the final hole… Still haunts me.
Favourite Hole: 13th hole 386 metre par 4 – I always enjoyed playing the 13th hole. The drive from the back tee requires a well struck shot to negotiate the water and fairway bunker on the right and the huge gum tree in the middle of the fairway (slightly left of the line of play for longer hitters). The second shot was always hard to judge the distance as well as the amount of spin you would get.
Least Favourite Hole: 6th Hole 347 metre par 4 – A dogleg right which I used to blast over the corner leaving a 60m pitch shot to the flat and uninteresting green. One of the only holes which I feel lets the course down.
8. COOMEALLA GOLF CLUB – New South Wales
Reason: One of the most challenging courses I’ve played. The course is located about 20 minutes from Mildura on the banks of the Murray River. Every fairway is lined with big River Gums, the greens were always firm and lightning quick. I always looked forwards to tackling this course.
Favourite Memory: Watching an 8ft goanna climb a huge gum tree looking for birds eggs in a nest and then running down the tree and off into the distance pretty quick.
Least Favourite Memory: Losing the 2002 Victorian Trainee Championships in a playoff. No one has ever won three in a row. I won the next two in 2003 and 2004, so I was THAT close.
Favourite Hole: 2nd Hole 520 metres Par 5 – Negotiate the dogleg on the drive and then position the second shot ready for a long pitch into the green. This hole seemed to go forever before you got to the green.
Least Favourite Hole: 4th Hole 328 metres Par 4 – Awkward driving hole with the dogleg at about 180 metres from the tee but the narrow fairway with overhanging branches of the river gums made this near impossible to hit.
7. VICTORIA GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Reason: Played in my first Victorian Open here. I didn’t make the cut but enjoyed the experience as an 19 year old.
Favourite Memory:Coming up the last hole on the Friday afternoon of the Victorian Open knowing I’d missed the cut. I went for the green in two but blocked my shot into the stands. Then made up and down in front of the gallery.
Least Favourite Memory: Playing in the Victorian Amateur Qualifying and playing ok… having to take a penalty on the 18th green after I address my ball and it moves. Missed the cut by 1
Favourite Hole: 14th hole 142 metre Par 3 – A fantastic uphill par three that rivals the 15th at Kingston Heath as my favourite par 3 but that’s a topic for a later top ten post.
Least Favourite Hole: 5th hole 398 metre Par 4 – Very difficult to name one on this course but I think this only because I always seem to struggle with the second shot here nearly everytime I play it. I usually land my ball on the green and it finishes over the back making for a difficult par save. Good hole though.
6. JOONDALUP GOLF CLUB – Western Australia
Reason: I played here in the 2004 WA Trainee Championship. I thoroughly enjoyed the course even though we played in very testing conditions all week long. A challenging course which is pretty undulating and requires the golfer to play a number of different shape shots.
Favourite Memory: Playing the 6th Hole – Par 4 in the first round and holing my second with a wedge for eagle. Playing the same hole in the second round and this time holing my second with a 9 iron for another eagle.
Least Favourite Memory: Dropping 7 shots in the last 10 holes in the final round to lose by 1. A couple of 3 putts and a couple of loose shots and a tight collar. Made for a long trip home that night.
Favourite Hole: The 6th Hole for reasons stated above
Least Favourite Hole: None- even though a few holes gave me a reason to dislike them on the last day of the championship.
5. ROYAL MELBOURNE GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Reason: Well why wouldn’t arguably the best course in the land be amongst my favorites. I always look forward to the chance to play here.
Favourite Memory: Playing 1st round of pennant at the end of March one year and it was 38 Degrees Celsius with a strong northerly blowing. Playing at number 1, I am pitted against Aaron Baddeley. I got off to a flying start making 3 birdies in the first 5 holes to be 5 up. We both played solid after that in difficult conditions and I managed to win 5&4. This was a year before he won consecutive Australian Opens so take any claim to fame that I can
Least Favourite Memory: Losing a Minor Pennant match in the Final there after playing so well all year. Team still won though.
Favourite Hole: 10th hole West Course 289 metres par 4.
A huge deep bunker guarding the left side of the fairway and front of the green. Normally I’d play a long iron or hybrid to the fairway then pitch onto the green but I recently went for the green with driver for the first time. I ended up nearly out of bounds 40m through the back. Won’t be doing that again anytime soon.
Least Favourite Hole: They are all pretty good at Royal Melbourne but my only criticism is that some of the par 5’s are fairly short.
4. METROPOLITAN GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Favourite Memory: I shot 108 here when I was 12 playing in a school competition. I was in awe of the golf course when I was twelve… Years later I played in the Australian Amateur Championship and shot 65 (-7) to be leading after the first round. A very satisfying day indeed. I do discuss the following day in the Kingston Heath – Least Favourite Memory section. We wont spoil this one here though.
Least Favourite Memory: I honestly can’t think of one for Metropolitan. I had no reason to be disappointed shooting 108 here at age 12 (even though I remember feeling disappointed at the time).
Favourite Hole: 7th Hole 201 metre Par 3 – A great test of golf this hole. I always love hitting a long iron into this green. It offers some width at the front of the green but is heavily bunkered if you don’t get your tee shot away straight.
Least Favourite Hole: 16th Hole 345 metres Par 4 – Too over bunkered for my liking and has cost a couple of top notch players the Australian Open in the past. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t mind a challenge but this, to me, feels a little overdone.
3. NEWCASTLE GOLF CLUB – New South Wales
Reason: I played two National Trainee Championships held at Newcastle Golf Club in 2003 and 2004. A fantastic golf course always ranked around 10th in Australia. The tournament itself was an awesome week of golf. I managed to finish 3rd in 2003 and 5th in 2004.
Favourite Memory: Flying over the course in a helicopter one afternoonand up the coast of Newcastle watching large hammerhead sharks feeding just offshore.
Least Favourite Memory: Playing the last round in 2004 in excessive heat. I was a little dehydrated after the third round so started drinking water and sports drinks as soon as I woke up that morning. I commenced my round and was walking to the 3rd tee (as we played it) and needed to detour into the trees to upchuck. Safe to say I was far from dehydrated that day. I did shoot 69 (-3) to get into 5th spot that day so happy result.
Favourite Hole: 5th Hole 368 metre par 4 – Ranked as one of the 20 best holes in Australia the drive requires an accurate tee shot to the brow of the hill with a long iron or fairway wood. The second shot from the top of the hill to a raised green is usually buffeted by the winds coming off the Pacific Ocean. A fantastic hole and a well earned score of par.
Least Favourite Hole: 3rd Hole 217 metres par 3. Hybrid or Fairway wood to a very narrow green on a fairly flat piece of land. Just never excited me like the other 17 holes.
2. KINGSTON HEATH GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Reason: Having grown up living very close to Kingston Heath, I have been lucky enough to play this course on numerous occasions. I love the layout, it’s always in pristine condition and is always a great test of golf. It is recognized as one of Australia’s best golf courses and consistently ranked in the Top 3.
Favourite Memory: Playing Junior Pennant here and I hit a terrible drive off the 6th tee. I blocked it straight onto the 1st fairway. I was left with around 180 metres to the pin into a stiff breeze. I had to come in over the RHS Bunkers to a pin cut on the right. I hit a low penetrating 3 iron straight at the pin… it carried the bunkers by a couple of metres and run up and finished 5 feet from the hole.
Least Favourite Memory: 2nd round of the 2001 Australian Amateur Championship shooting 81 after being first round leader. Redeemed myself the next day with an even par 72.
Favourite Hole: 15th 142 metre Par 3
An uphill par three to a well bunkered green. Hit the green and make a two… miss the green however and make a 4 most times.
Least Favourite Hole: 11th 380 metre Par 4 – I always find this hole awkward to play. A bunker in the middle of the fairway on the dogleg with not much room either side. I just always seems to struggle on this hole. It’s the only hole on the course I don’t look forward to playing when I visit. Not saying it’s a terrible hole… just my least favourite.
1. SPRING VALLEY GOLF CLUB – Victoria
Reason: Why is this my number one? Well quite simply, I grew up playing at Spring Valley. I joined when I was 12 years old and left when I started my PGA Traineeship in 2002.
I played 12 years of pennant golf for Spring Valley… I was a part of numerous winning teams but none more memorable than our VGA Division 1 wins in 1993 and 2000. I managed to win 5 club championships and several other board events. I met some wonderful people whilst I was growing up at the club and I will always look back on my time at the club with fantastic memories.
Favourite Memory: There are so many… My one and only ever hole in one on the 5th hole, the countless hours I spent on the practice fairway, each of my 5 club championship wins but I think the one that stands out the most was when I had my first ever eagle.
It was late in the day playing the 18th hole. The light was starting to fade and we were the last group in the club competition. I was around 13 or 14 at the time and had hit my drive around 210 metres from the tee and had about 160 metres left uphill to the green. I pulled out my 3 iron and hit it nice. It landed on the fringe of the green and rolled up towards the pin. No one could see the ball on the green as the light was fading but I thought it would be pretty close. My playing partners were dumbstruck when I picked my ball out of the hole and walked to my bag. It was a good feeling at such a young age.
Least Favourite Memory: I think the time when I was 14 when in the days before automatic water irrigation systems the course staff would manually put sprinklers out. One extremely hot day there was a sprinkler on the 5th tee and we used to put a stick in the arm to stop it while we teed off. Well, after we all teed off, I went to remove the stick by knocking it away with my club and accidentally caught the top of the sprinkler. Next thing I knew was a water fountain 8 feet into the air and a guy from the ground staff yelling at me. I felt awful. I hid in the pro shop for the rest of the afternoon until mum came and picked me up. Funny, thinking about it now.
Favourite Hole: Another tough one. Having played the course so many times growing up I have an affinity with each and every hole. Something special happened on all 18 holes at one time or another. I am going to have to leave it at that for now!!
Least Favourite Hole: I’d say the 8th Hole. The raised green just doesn’t seem to fit with the architecture of the rest of the course. The green is usually rock hard and pretty slick with a generous amount of borrow in it.
If anyone is looking for membership in the Melbourne Sandbelt region then you could do a hell of a lot worse than joining Spring Valley.
HONORABLE MENTIONS who I couldn’t quite fit in but stand out from the rest.
Peninsula (South) – Before they redesigned it, I played a pennant match here one day. I played quite well… started on the back nine and turned 2 under… unfortunately I was 5 down against my opponent. I had two birdies in a row on the old par 5 – 15th hole and old par 3 – 16th hole and lost both holes to an eagle 3 and a hole in one. The most memorable loss I’ve ever had. Also won the 2000 VGA Division 1 Pennant Final here.
Woodlands – Small firm greens requires shot making ability. Played some good rounds here and always love playing it. Also won the 1993 VGA Division 1 Pennant Final here.
Grange (East and West) – played here quite a bit and thoroughly enjoy both courses. Always in mint condition and haven’t managed to go deep there yet. Always a challenge.
Royal Sydney – For the course partly but love the clubhouse and the guy in the tux who was washing windscreens in the carpark at 7am on a Monday morning.
I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed the list of my TOP 10 FAVOURITE COURSES and the reasons why they are…
I certainly enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane as I was compiling the list.
Feel free to add a comment with your favourite courses and why they are!
PGA Teaching Professional
Cardinia Beaconhills Golf Links
Upper Beaconsfield, Melbourne, Australia