Two years ago Australian Golf Digest stumbled upon an Iconic Golf Holes - Hall of Fame concept, and produced an article on the 18 best and most iconic holes in Australia. Needless to say it created plenty of controversy, with conversation and debate focusing as much on those holes that missed out as those that made the list. The same is probably true of any sporting Hall of Fame.
The fact that we were only able to induct one hole per course meant there were numerous candidates and countless great holes left unrecognised. The time to celebrate those on the next tier has come, with our Top 100 panel once again setting out to determine what are the best golf holes in this country.
Each of our judges was asked to nominate the par threes, fours and fives they felt were most worthy of inclusion within the Hall of Fame. Once again only one hole per course could be nominated. Naturally the likes of Royal Melbourne, New South Wales, Kingston Heath and Barnbougle Dunes dominated, along with the ultra-exclusive Ellerston course, which led nominations with votes received for 6 of its holes. Next best were The National (Moonah Course) and Royal Melbourne (West Course), each with nominations for five holes.
As with any golfing list, the criteria used by our panel to select these holes is unlikely to please everyone and no doubt readers will be upset that their own personal favourites have missed out. We make no apologies for the fact that courses ranked highly on our Top 100 list have again featured prominently, and simply suggest that great courses are made up of great holes, and that there is a big difference between good holes and great ones. We hope you enjoy the list.
Australian Golf Digest Hall of Fame – 2013 Inductees
6th hole, New South Wales Golf Club, 177 metres.
Pipped by the outrageously spectacular 5th hole last time, the 6th at New South Wales garnered the most votes of any hole this year and rightly joins its infamous sibling in the Hall of Fame. Added by Eric Apperly sometime after Dr. Alister MacKenzie left Australia, the hole plays directly across the ocean to a green angled toward the water. There are few more breathtaking par threes anywhere in the world, and no self-respecting catalogue of great Aussie holes is complete without it.
7th hole, Barnbougle Dunes, 112 metres.
When stretched to its absolute limit the 7th at Barnbougle Dunes measures a touch over 110 metres, yet it’s a hole where all golfers will celebrate a par. The challenge here is all about the green, which is set on a gentle spur and falls away sharply on all sides. Left and long are definitely not options, while short or right are only marginally better.
5th hole, Royal Melbourne (West Course), 161 metres
Brilliantly conceived and impeccably shaped, 5 West at Royal Melbourne is close to the perfect par three. Its steeply pitched green sits beyond a valley and between a series of glorious Sandbelt bunkers. The reward for keeping your ball under the hole is enormous, but it takes both skill and courage to flirt with the green’s false front. This was the only hole at Royal Melbourne built under the direct guidance of Dr MacKenzie, who understandably left the club comfortable that Mick Morcom (its Head Greenkeeper) was capable of bringing his plans to life.
17th hole, The Dunes Golf Links, 179 metres.
Endorsements don’t come much stronger, than 5-time Open Champion Tom Watson’s declaration in the mid-1990s that the 17th at The Dunes was ‘an exquisite golf hole’. With its tees benched into the side of a dune, and its green set on a soft plateau protected by beautifully crafted bunkers, it isn’t hard to see the attraction.
14th hole, Barnbougle Lost Farm, 263 metres
According to the judging panel the 14th at Lost Farm is the best available par four in Australia, and an essential addition to our Hall of Fame. Golfers love great short par fours, and this one has it all - a generous fairway but crazy, cool elevated green that gets progressively more difficult to hit, and hold, from the safer left-hand side. Throw in an ocean view to die for and it’s easy to see how this hole has become an Aussie icon.
2nd hole, St Andrews Beach, 279 metres
While the 2nd at St Andrews Beach lacks the obvious ‘sex appeal’ of the 4th at Barnbougle, in the right wind it’s as tempting as Tom Doak’s other Hall of Fame short four. Dictating strategy here is the waste area down the left-hand side and cleverly positioned bunkers through the fairway. There is plenty of space for those content with par, but those hoping for an easy birdie have to attack the sand and try feed their balls toward the green.
1st hole, Victor Harbor Golf Club, 402 metres.
Once described by Gary Player as ‘the best opening hole in Australian golf’ the 1st at Victor Harbor is the very definition of an iconic golf hole. From an elevated tee beside the clubhouse, your opening drive plunges dramatically along a tight, tree-lined fairway. It’s the views of the Southern Ocean and its offshore islands, however, that make the hole so memorable.
11th hole, Royal Adelaide Golf Club, 353 metres.
Adelaide’s celebrated ‘Crater Hole’ features one of the most exciting approach shots in Australian golf, played across a scrubby waste toward a green set at the base of a large sand crater. Although these dunes are no longer as pure and pristine as they once were, this remains a formidable test of your skill and nerve.
15th hole, The Links Kennedy Bay, 382 metres.
An under-rated hole on an under-rated links, the 15th at Kennedy Bay can really only be played conservatively or aggressively. There is no middle ground here. Off the tee you either lay back safe and left or attack the pot bunkers and try to play down the narrow right-hand side. The rewards are enormous, for the green rests in a dell at the end of a shallow valley and is much easier to approach from the right. This is a hole that wouldn’t be out of place on the Open Rota.
16th hole, Ellerston Golf Course, 417 metres.
As Ellerston is our most exclusive golf course, including any of their holes on a list like this was sure to generate controversy. Our view, though, is that all courses, and therefore all holes, ought be considered by our judges and those fortunate enough to play here continue to rave about Bob Harrison’s 16th hole. It’s a true one-off, playing along a creek and turning sharply toward a green encircled by the running water. The all-or-nothing approach shot up the length of the creek is incredibly demanding, but fun.
16th hole, Commonwealth Golf Club, 364 metres.
An undeniably brilliant piece of golf architecture, the 16th at Commonwealth is one of those rare holes that reward both strategic play as well as high skill. Those who can draw their tee shot close to the lake, and then play a soft fade into the green have an enormous advantage, as they should. Technology has made the drive slightly easier, but the angled green remains a Melbourne masterpiece.
16th hole, Royal Canberra, 410 metres.
It’s an awful expression, but if ever a golf course had a signature hole it would be Royal Canberra and their 16th. This is the very essence of golf at Westbourne Woods, with the undulating fairway, the towering Pines and the slick, elevated green all combining to create a variety of golfing challenges. Few forget their first par here.
18th hole, Royal Sydney, 374 metres.
Royal Sydney has hosted 13 Australian Opens, and the last ten or eleven have ended on an 18th green set in the shadows of this country’s most magnificent clubhouse. Turning hard left through trees, the hole is memorable for both the backdrop and the relief of avoiding trouble and safely reaching the putting surface. That putting surface was made fiendishly difficult by Ross Watson during his 2003 redesign of the course.
10th hole, Sanctuary Cove (Pines Course), 428 metres.
The first competitive hole Robert Allenby played as a professional golfer was arguably Australia’s toughest, the 10th at Sanctuary Cove Pines. He made triple bogey. Since then countless others have followed in Allenby’s footsteps, undone by either the Pines that run down the left of the hole or the water along the right. Two strong, arrow-straight shots are the only way to reach this green in regulation. It may not be a great hole, but it’s one that golfers rarely forget.
14th hole, The Lakes Golf Club, 502 metres
The key to playing the 14th at The Lakes used to be driving close to the water on the left to leave yourself a shorter approach shot. Now it’s positioning the drive and potentially the second shot, but also studying the enormous green complex, the pin position of the day and determining whether it was better to pitch for birdie or try to two-putt from an adjoining postcode. Some hate this green, but it has endless fascination and single-handedly turned a flawed par five into a great one.
4th hole, Joondalup Resort (Quarry Course), 475 metres
An overwhelming favourite among our judges, Quarry 4 at Joondalup is dominated by an abrupt quarry wall that separates fairway levels and forms part of an enormous waste bunker. Recovery shots from down in the sand are next to impossible but the rewards for successfully attacking the upper shelf are enormous, which makes this such a strategically pleasing hole.
14th hole, Kingston Heath Golf Club, 516 metres
Made famous by the late Roger Mackay’s albatross during the 1987 Victorian Open, the 14th at Kingston Heath has everything a tempting par five needs; a generous driving zone, a spectacularly bunkered back half and an angled green that accepts only the most precise approach and can confound even the longest-standing member. The fact this hole was nominated by our panel ahead of the brilliant 3rd is an indication of its quality.
7th hole, The National Golf Club (Moonah Course), 511 metres
The Bob Harrison, Greg Norman design duo created a number of cracking par fives across Australia, none better than Moonah 7 at The National. Golfers hoping for an easy birdie here need to flirt with deep bunkers off the tee and then run their ball along a narrowing valley toward a beautiful green pushed back into a natural dell. Strong crosswinds are what give this hole its teeth, and make your first two shots interesting.
Hall of Fame - 2011 Inductees
Kingston Heath 15
National (Old) 7
Yarra Yarra 11
Barwon Heads 13
Royal Adelaide 3
Barnbougle Dunes 4
National (Moonah) 11
The Cut 12
Coolum Resort 18
Royal Melbourne (East) 18
Royal Melbourne (West) 6
New South Wales 5
Palm Meadows 18
The Lakes 11