As is the case anytime a ranking of Australia’s Top 100 courses is released, the 2022 list produced by Golf Australia Magazine has stirred more than its share of healthy debate.
At the heart of most critical commentary, seems to be the continued disparity between the performance of certain courses on this list when directly compared to the Australian Golf Digest Top 100. We’ve written previously of the differences in methodology between magazines, and that the Australian Golf Digest panel is more representative of a cross-section of the golfing community when compared to Golf Australia, whose judges are typically hand-picked and generally share a similar mind-set.
As a result perhaps, the courses of Golf Australia Architecture Editor Mike Clayton, and his former partners, tend to rate more highly than on the Australian Golf Digest list. In 2020 there was only one Clayton course, Lake Karrinyup, that finished higher on the Australian Golf Digest Top 100. This year there are several, but each of St Andrews Beach (13 vs 25), The Lakes (14 vs 18), Royal Queensland (23 vs 29), Port Fairy (28 vs 55), Portsea (37 vs 49), Curlewis (49 vs 69), RACV Healesville (60 vs 81), Rosebud – North (69 vs 84) and Ranfurlie (64 vs NR) continue to be ranked more favourably by the Golf Australia panel.
Port Fairy is a very fine coastal course, but surely only tops Newcastle (29) and Commonwealth (32) if one were to mark those higher profile clubs more harshly – or rank golf courses based on value for money.
One of the bigger talking points with this list was the inclusion of the new Lonsdale Links at # 20 – and ahead of the likes of Kooyonga, Woodlands, The National (Old), The Dunes and Thirteenth Beach (Beach). Copycat template design is clearly in fashion over in America, and the work OCM did on the holes at Lonsdale has certainly transformed a previously dull course into something that is much more quirky and memorable.
Beyond the Golf Australia panel, genuine fans of Macdonald and Raynor design are few and far between in this country, and even the most devoted disciples would surely have a hard time arguing that, hole for hole, the new Lonsdale layout belongs in Australia’s Top 20. The club will be delighted that it has trampolined from outside the Top 100 into such a prominent spot, however, and hoping to be able to maintain that ranking in subsequent years.
Beyond those mentioned above, clubs likely to be disappointed by their 2022 ranking include Royal Sydney (56) and Huntingdale (58), both previously ranked inside the Top 20, as well as Moonah Links (Legends 47, Open 68) and Sorrento (84) on the Mornington Peninsula, which seem harshly marked.