Showcase Golf

By Greg Barton

Showcasing the top public golf courses in Oceania.

Showcase Golf
Photo: iStock

For golfers, few things are more satisfying than taking visitors to a local course that truly expresses the essence of your home. To that end, we’ve gathered a Top Eight of our favourite public-access Oceania courses that perfectly showcase the best each region has to offer.

1. Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania
Rolling hills and patchwork fields offset by blasted cliff-side drives and panoramic coastal views – you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Scotland. So, in keeping with the finest tradition of links courses, Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania abounds with undulating dunes, devilish sea breezes and no trees to mar the ethereal feel of the place. Consistently named as Australia’s No. 1 public access course, its stunning views over Bass Strait are enough to stir the soul.

2. Paradise Palms, Queensland
Sandwiched between two World Heritage–listed wonders – the ancient Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – this tropical golfer’s paradise will challenge players of all abilities. But if you’re after an even more quintessentially Queensland experience, the Palmer Sea Reef golf course further north offers one more great Australian attraction to wow its visitors: crocodiles! Surrounded by wetlands, it’s not uncommon to see crocs basking in the sun, and visitors are warned to give the beasts a wide berth and play at their own risk.

3. Jack’s Point, New Zealand
Although only a few minutes from Queenstown airport, Jack’s Point in the foothills of the Remarkables could be ripped right from the pages of the Lord of the Rings. The still waters of Lake Wakatipu form one spectacular boundary, while steep bluffs, lush wetlands and native bush reserves will keep unwary golfers well occupied. And for true LOTR fans, historic Arrowtown, gateway to the filming location of Rivendell’s Ford of Bruinen, is just a short drive away.

4. Margaret River GC, Western Australia
Visitors to southwest WA come for two reasons: big surf and great wine. Margaret River GC, nestled in the heart of this glorious region, has both covered. It’s less than two minutes’ drive from world-famous surf beaches, and roughly ten minutes to the cellar doors of Voyager Estate, Leeuwin Estate and more. The course itself backs onto pretty vineyards, and it’s not unusual to be sharing your round with dozens of curious kangaroos.

5. Marina Bay GC, Singapore
Singapore’s very first 18-hole public- access championship golf course – and the only course in the city-state to boast a whopping par-6 hole – Marina Bay GC truly is a showcase for the region. The city skyline creates a memorable backdrop for this course that is only minutes from the heart of the CBD. Yet ocean breezes, deep bunkers, manicured greens and fairways and a multitude of spotlights for evening golfers all work to create a blissful island oasis. But don’t leave it too late to experience; to make way for further development, the club’s lease will not be renewed beyond 2024 and the course will be phased out. Play it now before you miss your chance.

6. Berjaya Hills, Malaysia
Artfully designed to take full advantage of the splendour of one of the most ancient rainforests on Earth, Berjaya Hills is a mix of precipitous inclines, jungle-filled ravines and towering ridges. Just 45 minutes northeast of Kuala Lumpur and at 1000 metres above sea level, it’s a true highland course in a region famous for mountains and rainforests – some of which are estimated at around 130 million years old.

7. Bonville Golf Resort, NSW
Visitors to Australia with a misconception that the nation is an arid colonial outpost need only explore the lush surrounds of Bonville to be disabused of that notion. Protected by a breathtaking expanse of towering, cathedralesque gum trees – home to their fair share of koalas, goannas, water dragons and other native critters – the course is regularly hailed as Australia’s most beautiful, and its closest rival to hallowed Augusta. With each hole completely isolated from the next by thick forest and long winding cart trails, your round becomes as much a peaceful drive through the forest as it is about the golf.

8. Hamilton Island GC, Queensland
You haven’t experienced island golf until you’ve paused mid-shot to watch a humpback whale breaching just a couple of hundred metres away. Such sights are commonplace – especially from June to September during the whale migration season – from the fairways of Hamilton Island GC in the Whitsundays. Australia’s only 18-hole championship course housed on its own island, the layout boasts arguably the best views of any in the country, with virtually unimpeded 360-degree panoramic outlooks over the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef from every hole. Just don’t go long. 

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