Top 20 Victoria's best courses - 2020
The 2019 list caused a few people to get their noses out of joint, even though we didn't mean to, or did we?
Let's see if we can do it again with our new list for 2020.
Unlike the websites you would have already looked at regarding their top 100 courses for 2020, we do not have any agendas. We do not take cash for comment, we do not push one designer over any other, we simply play these golf courses, score them under a pretty simple criteria and rank them between just the few of us here that we think know a little about the game. Over the past few weeks we have read some lists and quite frankly, we cannot understand how these publications arrive at the rankings they arrived at.
We are not going to name the exact lists, but some of these publications should be wary that they are becoming a bit of a laughing stock with their pushing of designers ahead of others to gain favour or cash for comment. One list has so many Mike Clayton designed golf courses inside it's top 50 that even Clayton may be embarrassed. If they seriously think that Kingston Heath belongs at #6 then they didn't play it and if they are happy with Portsea being 50 places ahead of Sorrento, so be it, but we won't swallow such ridiculousness without protest. Lift your game! Start putting courses where they actually belong instead of making lists that suit your own needs.
And just one more thing we have to say about the lists compiled. Nobody is going to play all of these golf courses because the majority of them are private and they will not let you on. We'd all love to play Augusta, but WE CAN'T, so stop compiling lists that are flights of fantasy and how about, like we have done, get a list of golf courses you can actually ring up and get a tee time at. Our top 20 list can be completed by any Victorian golfer inside a year. Our list rewards golf courses that are in good playing condition and we believe each of them deserves their spot.
#20. Waterford Valley
Why we like it - Waterford Valley is one of those golf courses that everyone has played from time to time. The course offers some interesting holes that will test all levels of golfer. In recent times the condition of the course has gone from strength to strength and it makes our top 20 for the first time this year.
Why we like it - Drive a little further next time you go down to the Peninsula and play Flinders GC. It's one of those golf courses that balances risk and reward holes with others where playing it safe can really help. It makes you think and is always in great condition thanks to the area itself. When the wind blows this golf course can dismantle your game in a hurry. Well worth the drive.
Why we like it - This is the first time Leongatha has made it into our top 20 and we thought it had to come in after playing it earlier this year. This little country course is tough. Not always because of length, but you have to think what to hit off a lot of tees. Just blasting driver will get you into plenty of trouble around here. Tee shots must be placed to take any advantage of this course's length. Superbly conditioned golf course and truly belongs on this list.
#14. Thirteenth Beach - Creek Course
Why we like it - Co designed by Sir Nick Faldo and Tony Cashmore, the Creek course is the lesser known of the 2 courses at the 13th Beach complex. While we have glowing praise for the Beach course, the Creek has a few things that keep it down the list a little. Club selection is difficult at times thanks to plenty of wind and some flat, less featured ground on some holes. Still worth a hit though.
#12. Lang Lang
Why we like it - It's no secret that we love Lang Lang. It is truly one of the best kept golfing secrets in Melbourne. This gem is always and we stress, ALWAYS in great condition thanks to the pure sandbelt dirt underneath those tight fairways. If your golf course is full of mud in winter, head down for a blissful escape and play Lang Lang. You can even wear your white shoes all year round without fear. Maybe even your white pants too!
#10. Black Bull
Why we like it - One of the best golf courses along the Murray River. I know many will say the best and we have taken a little bit of liberty with putting another ahead of it (from 2 minutes over the border), but we think that Black Bull is not as good as it may get over the next few years. The course is good without being spectacular. The "Bull Ring" is a good addition, but the shortness of some holes left us wanting just a little bit more. Still worth a hit though.
#8. Murray Downs
Why we like it - In a word, variety. The mix of holes keeps your interest the whole way around the course. One of those golf courses where if you look hard enough, you could hit several different clubs off several different tees and still probably not get it right. Placement is KEY to getting around this course in a low score - and not just off the tees. There are plenty of large greens where if you are not on the right level, expect a 3 putt as standard. Yes we know it's in NSW, but only by a one lane bridge and 2 minutes. The best golf course along the Murray.
#6. Port Fairy
Why we like it - One of the only true links experiences in Victoria. Right on the dunes and wind swept to the point of going up or down 6 or seven clubs depending on the day. This is as close to playing in Scotland as you can get in Victoria and every golfer at one stage should make the 3 hour trip to play here. The perfect way would be to incorporate Warrnambool on the same trip. Don't think about it, just do it. What are you waiting for?
#4. Barwon Heads
Why we love it - If you have never played here, drop everything you are doing and make time to get it done as soon as possible. You will only understand how good this golf course is after you have played there. The scenery, the fairway bunkers, the greenside bunkers, the rough, the trees, the buildings, the greens, the ocean and even the wind all work in perfect harmony to make Barwon Heads a must play golf course. We love this golf course and a midweek round here is pure bliss.
#2. Moonah Links - Legends Course
Why we love it - What is not to love? The variety of holes here just has to be seen to be believed. Starting with a magnificent par 5, followed by an incredible short par 4, a tight uphill par 3, a hooking short par 4 and by the time you stand on the 5th tee, you're tired. This course takes it out of you and presents different scenarios tee after tee. Just when you think you have it worked out, it'll show you something new. The Legends course is a roller coaster ride from start to finish and a very enjoyable one at that.
Why we like it - Apart from the kangaroos everywhere, Anglesea's front nine is one of the better front nines in country golf. Starting with 2 par 5's and some big hills, the following 7 will take you on an up and down journey through tall tree. The fairways are lush and the greens are fast and tough. Granted, the back nine is not as good, but we believe it belongs on our list.
#17. The Sands, Torquay
Why we like it - The Sands is a beast from the tips and even more beastly when the wind blows. The elevations across the course keep your interest and the deep bunkers catch anything slightly wayward. The greens can be tough to putt on at times because the pace is not always fast, but the condition of the golf course in general is always good.
#15. Rosebud Country Club - North
Why we like it - Another ripper golf course situated down on the Peninsula. This area has so many golf courses of great quality and plenty feature on this list. The North course at Rosebud CC was the first course to be built remains the better. It's tight, long and is forever throwing up great deals for people to go and play it. It's not overly hilly, but it will still test all levels of golfer.
Why we like it - Could lay claim to possibly the windiest golf course in Victoria. The home of PGA Tour player Marc Leishman, who honed his skills on these fairways. Plenty of places where you will never find your golf ball if you stray into the ample vegetation. Elevated tees give the golfer here a great view across the dunes, but tight fairways make sure placement is at a premium.
#11. RACV Cape Schanck
Why we like it - Has been down on the Peninsula for a long time and has been worth playing for just as long. All of the golf courses that surround Cape Schanck are world class, but the same style course and land is right there at the RACV and for a fraction of the cost. If you are an RACV member, you can even get further discount. For the price, it's one of the best courses down that area.
Why we like it - Portsea altered its configuration a while back and the golf course is better for it. According to some publications A LOT better for it. Portsea polarizes opinion. Some love it and then there is us who think it's a good golf course, but it doesn't belong in Australia's top 50, let alone the top 40 if you believe some! Good golf course? Yes indeed. Great golf course, we're not sold on that. Worth playing? Definitely.
#7. Moonah Links - Open
Why we like it - The longer of the two Thomson/Perrett designed golf courses at the Moonah Links complex, the Open course is a Peninsula masterpiece. Not as well liked as the shorter, more interesting Legends course, but still worth the price of admission anytime. Best to be played in the summer months before the wind becomes too strong. Has a few very exposed long par 3's that will test even the scratch marker from the back tees.
#5. Thirteenth Beach - Beach Course
Why we like it - The Vic Open is staged at this golf course because it is one of the best and most interesting tracks in this part of Victoria. Most of you would have got quite familiar with the course through watching it over the last few years as host the Vic Open and it is more than worth your while to get a game there. The front nine has plenty of variety and risk/reward. Just make sure to keep the ball on the short stuff.
#3. St.Andrews Beach
Why we love it - Variety. Like layouts on the Peninsula, St Andrews Beach weaves its way through sand dunes and expects you to do the same. Each holes offers up multiple scenarios and options and the ever present wind means those options will probably change from day to day. If walking is more your style, make sure you're prepared - otherwise hire a cart and relax. St Andrews Beach is a ripper that gives you a chance and punishes stupidity.
#1. The Dunes
Why we absolutely love it - A links course like no other in Melbourne. It's the natural beauty and ruggedness that sets this course apart from the rest. The golf course feels like it was just carved into the land that was already sitting there. The wind rips at the high tee boxes and pushes your golf ball to places you never thought possible, but that is part of the allure. The tombstone challenge tests the best golfers in Victoria once a month and it has brought some of the best to their knees. You can get at this golf course, but only when the elements allow you to. On days when the wind blows, it is almost unplayable in places and bogey becomes a great score. You will find yourself searching for your wayward golf balls way wider than you normally would. After a minute you will think, "what am I doing this far off the fairway?" then you will realise, it's the 4th time you've done this today. Shoot under 80 and you have had a great day out here. Fun from the blind tee shot on the 1st, to the blind tee shot on the 18th.
1. The Dunes
2. Moonah Links - Legends
3. St.Andrews Beach
4. Barwon Heads
5. Thirteenth Beach - Beach
6. Port Fairy
7. Moonah Links - Open
8. Murray Downs
10. Black Bull
11. RACV Cape Schanck
12. Lang Lang
14. Thirteenth Beach - Creek
15. Rosebud Country Club - North
17. Sands Torquay
20. Waterford Valley
Congratulations to our number one golf course 2 years in a row:
Spend 2020 playing all of these golf courses. You will not regret the journey to any of them.