When you visit Australia or New Zealand, you’ll notice there’s a theme in the landscape. No matter where you go, it’s all breathtaking. From Queensland’s swaying palms to Queenstown’s soaring mountains, we’ve explored some of the best locations to stay and play that you can’t miss.
Take to the Tropics
If you’re looking for a public course, there are few better places to start than at the Hamilton Island Golf Club. Fly direct from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and catch a ferry over to Australia’s only 18-hole championship course on its own island. The course offers challenge and satisfaction in equal parts, thanks to its rolling valleys and steep hills fringed with panoramic views of the Coral Sea and Queensland’s iconic Whitsundays.
Embrace Your Wild Side
However, if you’re after something a little more dramatic, King Island in Tasmania is your destination. To the north, you’ll find Cape Wickham Links, one of the most entertaining courses in the world. A creation of architect Mike DeVries and designer Darius Oliver, Cape Wickham pays homage to the traditional Links courses of Scotland and Ireland, with all Tees, Fairways and Greens seeded with fescue grass. Start by teeing off with staggering views of the Bass Strait and enjoy the rare pleasure of ocean views on every hole, before retiring to the clubhouse to sample some of the finest local produce and cuisine in Australia.
While Cape Wickham is often touted as Australia’s finest public course, King Island also hosts two other must-play public courses. The first is Barnbougle Dunes, a Links course transformed from a humble potato farm into 18 holes of wide fairways and lively greens that meander with the natural coastline, the Dunes requires a little creativity with each shot that makes for a thrilling game. It’s sister course, Barnbougle Lost Farm, lies in close proximity, yet offers a different challenge altogether. Created by Coore & Crenshaw in 2010, Lost Farm is a 20-hole Links course that takes you further inland amongst sand dunes which are significantly steeper than those at The Dunes course. Not only does this create more diversity, but a little more drama as well.
Warm Up in Western Australia
Just a few hours flight away but far from the rugged wilds of Tasmania, you’ll find The Vines Resort. Located an hour north of Perth in the Swan Valley wine region, The Vines is one of Western Australia’s most picturesque courses. Here, you can choose from two championship 18-hole public courses and tee off to an audience of lounging kangaroos and colourful cockatoos as you find yourself surrounded by an abundance of wildlife in the native bushland. Having hosted some of the greats, including Norman, Els, Langer and Daly in multiple cup competitions, the Vines is the perfect place to test your skill on championship tees. Of course, you can always choose to enjoy the ‘white’ tees instead for a more relaxing game with a generous variety of shots.
Hop Over to New South Wales
On the opposite side of Australia, you’ll be spoilt for choice with a mix of public and private courses to choose from throughout New South Wales. However, for a truly unique experience, you’ll want to head to Kooindah Waters on the Central Coast. Incorporating water hazards on all 18 holes, and with 84 bunkers dotted throughout the 6,083 meter course, Kooindah Waters was designed by Ross Watson and Australian champion Craig Parry to test golfers of all levels. Make sure you warm up on the superb putting green, chipping green and practice bunker area to bring your A-game.
Explore the Remarkable in New Zealand
If your travels include a trip to New Zealand, your first stop should be to the Milbrook Resort in Queenstown. Set against the aptly named Remarkables mountains, you’ll find two courses designed by Sir Bob Charles, Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson, that offer some of the most breathtaking views in the world. With fast and true greens providing stunning contrast to the rocky backdrop, it’s worth booking a luxury stay at Milbrook to give yourself as much time as possible to soak it all in.
Play More for Less
Although there are endless courses to choose from across both Australia and New Zealand, visiting more than one may be easier than you think. If you’re arriving on an international flight, you can save on a multi-city trip when you book through Qantas Explorer. Australia’s national airline offers discounted flights if you choose to fly around Australia or New Zealand once you arrive, meaning you could be teeing off in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley one day and dining in a Sydney Clubhouse the next, all for less. The only thing left to decide, is where to start?