Golf enthusiasts from all over Australia flock to Melbourne each year, and not just for the city's plethora of restaurants and bars. The best golf courses in Australia can be found in Melbourne, which is why the city is often considered the country's "golf capital" (including 4 of the top 10 courses in the country). Even more impressive is the fact that its "Sandbelt" area is home to more world-class golf courses than could be covered in a single article.
Because we enjoy a good challenge, we have compiled a list of the top ten golf courses in Melbourne, including a few public options for the rank amateur. If you find yourself in need of a new set of clubs or even just a new glove, you can find everything you need at the best golf shops in Melbourne or on the best online golf stores. Oh, and if you find yourself getting overwhelmed by the big game, you can always visit some of Melbourne's top mini golf courses for some smaller-scale competition.
Despite its common perception, golf is neither an exclusive nor a pricey pastime. In Melbourne, you can practise your short game and get advice on how to better your drive at a variety of public courses that won't break the bank. Many of these courses also provide lessons for golfing novices whose only exposure to the sport has been through Happy Gilmore, in addition to casual play and pass options for more serious golfers. Don't let a lack of clubs, balls, or golf carts deter you from hitting the links; everything you need can be rented. For those who aren't quite ready for the big holes, some courses even have mini-golf available.
FAQs Best Melbourne’s Golf Courses And Clubs
Other clubs can be added as you become more involved. However, you may not carry more than 14 clubs in your bag. Advice about the equipment you need to start playing is available from golf professionals based at golf clubs, driving ranges, or on-course and off-course golf retail stores.
While professional golfers can hit their drivers well over 300 yards, a typical male golfer will hit anywhere between 230 and 290 yards, depending on his skill level. Women will hit the ball 230 yards on a great drive, but most will hit it less than 200.
What counts as a stroke in golf? Under the Rules of Golf, any stroke in which you intend to hit the ball counts. It doesn't matter how far the ball goes. If you swing and miss, and you were trying to hit the ball, then it counts. If you take another swing at it, then you're counting your next stroke after the whiff.
Best Melbourne Golf Courses and Clubs
If the game of golf had a Mecca, it might just reside somewhere in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. However, some of the best Melbourne golf courses are indeed some of the finest anywhere in the world.
Several of the standouts cohabit the famed Melbourne Sandbelt, a rich vein of sandy subsoil that has proven particularly adept at supporting extraordinary golf courses. Six of the courses on this list rank in Australia's top 20 golf courses; three are in the top 10. If you ever get the chance to play at one of these 11 best golf courses in Melbourne, we suggest you jump at the opportunity.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club
It's hard to disagree with Royal Melbourne's claim that it's the best golf course in Australia. There are two 18-hole courses at Royal Melbourne—East and West—and they are both perennial favourites of Australian Golf Digest readers.
This world-famous course in Australia is the first course outside the United States to host the PGA President's Cup. Obviously, if you're a golf fan living in Australia, a round at this course is on your list of must-dos. The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is a legendary landmark in the golfing world, and this isn't the first time it has topped a similar list. There are three championship courses totalling 36 holes.
The West Course is consistently rated as one of the top three courses in the world, and it was recently ranked as the best in Australia. The East Course is not to be outdone by its heavenly neighbour, as it is also ranked in the top 20 by the same Golf Digest ranking and boasts one of the best par 3s among Melbourne's top courses. The world-famous Composite Course is the result of combining the West Course and the East Course, each of which contributes 12 holes, to create an even better whole. The result is the best 18 holes of golf in the country and the greatest mash-up since Linkin Park and Jay-Z.
The majority of these courses can be reached by car or on foot from nearby public transportation stops, but Royal Park Golf Course takes it to the next level by having tram and train lines run right through it. This course is convenient for a round of golf followed by a stroll through Royal Park, Carlton, or Brunswick to enjoy some delicious takeout. You can save yourself the time and money of playing all nine holes by purchasing a one-hour practise session instead for only $8. You can rent the necessary tools.
Kingston Heath Golf Club
A seven-time host to the Australian Open, Kingston Heath Golf Club offers an outstanding layout and some of the best bunkering around. As a result, Kingston Heath is lauded as one of the finest courses in the world by many of golf’s greats – Tiger Woods himself sang its praises when he took out the Australian Masters tournament there in 2009. One of the most exclusive clubs in the country, achieving membership requires referrals from several established members and a lengthy wait – which, I dare say, is worth it once you step onto this revered course.
Not content with continually placing second on lists of Australia’s best golf clubs, Kingston Heath sets itself apart by being the country’s sandiest. A staggering 128 bunkers dot the course and surround nearly every green – meaning that, in the words of the great Shooter McGavin, you’re likely to spend more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff. Nevertheless, Kingston Heath has hosted the Australian Open 7 times, as well as several iterations of the Australian Masters, and cracks the top 20 in Golf Digest’s ranking of the world’s 100 greatest golf courses.
Victoria Golf Club
The Victoria Golf Club throws its hat in the ring as yet another world-class golfing institution in the Melbourne Sandbelt. The Victoria holds up against its famous comrades and is an excellent addition to this cluster of improbably superb golf courses. Small, lightning-fast greens favour sharp-shooting, careful club selection and an immaculate short game; professional and amateur alike come unstuck in the imposing bunkers hard against the collars of the greens.
Of all the best golf courses Melbourne has to offer, the Victoria Golf Club may just be the toughest challenge out there. Victoria Golf Club was designed by Oscar Damman and Bill Meade with assistance from the doyen of course architects, Dr Alister MacKenzie. The par 72 courses have hosted many illustrious events over the years, including the Australian Open and the Women’s Australian Open, and even hosted President George Bush Sr. for around in 1998. If that’s not a CV, we don’t know what is.
Brighton Golf Course
It may seem odd to include a $30 course amongst some of Australia's most exclusive golf clubs. Still, we’re no elitists here, and we believe Melbourne’s best golf courses belong to more than those with a wardrobe dedicated entirely to smoking jackets and chinos. Brighton has all the hallmarks of a Sandbelt course – meaning bunkers lacing pretty much every green – with none of the intimidation and a price that caters to any level of play.
Brighten Golf Course prides itself on being a challenging sandbelt course, meaning that it features a short and tricky front nine holes that lead into the longer and more challenging back nine holes. Most of the holes are par four or five and riddled with bunkers, making for a challenging course suited for intermediate and advanced golfers. Clubs and carts are available for hire.
Metropolitan Golf Club
The Metropolitan Golf Club, which was founded at the same time as the Royal Melbourne and is widely considered to be one of Australia's finest championship courses, is a prime example of why the Melbourne Sandbelt is home to some of the best golf in the world. The rough native scrub is carved into fairways with the smooth uniformity of carpet, and bunkers border every green and hinge every bend in the freeway.
The Metropolitan is no stranger to hosting championship tournaments, and in 2018, it will play host to the PGA World Cup of Golf. The very name "Metropolitan" connotes a certain air of sophistication. However, it has more than earned its reputation for exclusivity, having hosted the Australian Open on multiple occasions and consistently ranking among the top 20 of Golf Digest's list of Australia's 100 best courses. In 1997, Greg Norman famously lost a playoff at The Metropolitan when he three-putted the final green. It's safe to say that everyone can relate.
Ranfurlie Golf Club
Ranfurlie isn’t just one of Australia's best public golf courses; it’s one of the best golf courses in Australia overall, period. This is because Ranfurlie combines a traditional links-style layout with Sandbelt golf, which means loads of bunkers, as we’re sure you’ve guessed by now.
You can join Ranfurlie as a member to play any time you like, but it’s open to just about anyone on certain days of the week for premium golfing on a budget.
Woodlands Golf Club
Featuring all the hallmarks shared by the best golf courses Melbourne offers, the rolling freeways, ominous bunkers, and elevated greens at Woodlands Golf Club lay down a challenge any serious golfer would relish. A certain finesse is required to navigate the narrow freeways and troublesome bunkers successfully – the careless slugger will not fare well with Woodlands’ many challenging nuances.
Visitors satisfying the handicap and club membership requirements are welcome to sample the delights at Woodlands, a rarity among the Sandbelt courses which frequently require guests to be accompanied by a member.
Commonwealth Golf Club
Another member of the illustrious group of courses on the Melbourne Sandbelt, the Commonwealth Golf Club, is revered for its strategic layout and tricky, narrow freeways. With origins that trace back to 1914, the early designers showed remarkable foresight in carefully selecting and nurturing native eucalypts that, over the century, have grown into the towering sentinels that now guard the freeways and the gently sloping greens.
The stately clubhouse enjoys commanding views over the course, with the upper balcony one of the better spots to enjoy a post-game beverage. Just down the road from the Metropolitan are the Commonwealth golf club, a fellow member of the Seven Sisters and a true beacon of Sandbelt golf. Should you find yourself visiting interstate or from overseas, you can get on comparatively easily (and cheap) compared to its neighbours, although as is standard, you need to be a member of a club in the state or country where you live.
Huntingdale Golf Club
Consistently rated among the best golf courses Melbourne has to offer along the famed Sandbelt – until 2008, Huntingdale Golf Club was recognised as the ‘Home of the Australian Masters’, having hosted the event for thirty consecutive years. The meticulously manicured greens are kept in Masters condition throughout the year. In addition, the carefully considered bunkering placement synonymous with courses in the area ensures an equally challenging and rewarding round.
They are abandoning the grand old clubhouse aesthetic ubiquitous with well-aged golf courses; the Huntingdale in 2014 sunk $12 million into a sophisticated, award-winning clubhouse.
Yarra Yarra Golf Club
Developed under some of the greatest course architects of the twentieth century, the Yarra Yarra Golf Club has recently appointed modern-age master architects of Renaissance Golf Designs to restore the subtleties and intent of the original design.
Already considered one of Melbourne’s preeminent Sandbelt courses with several holes renowned around the globe, the restoration of the Yarra Yarra will be one to watch. The goal of the club’s executives in appointing this upgrade is simple: restore the Yarra Yarra Golf Club to its rightful position as a world-class golf course.
Spring Valley Golf Club
The Spring Valley Golf Club is the unheralded crown jewel of the Sandbelt collection, having recently taken 43rd place in Golf Australia's 2018 best courses in the country.
It's easy to overlook Spring Valley with such a well-known corporation so close by. To do so, however, would be to miss out on a course that, while often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, is actually a well-designed gem that deserves to be played by golfers of all skill levels.
Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club
The Peninsula Country Golf Club and the Kingswood Golf Club made history in 2013 as the first merger of two golf clubs in Australia. Now known as the Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club, it is home to three championship courses, each with something to please golfers from all walks of life.
The North course favours the strategy, while the South and the Kingswood, with their long, wide fairways and big greens, allow the long-hitters to bring out the big guns.
Albert Park Golf
While it might not be as esteemed as others on this list, the convenience of its location makes it worth a mention. Situated at Albert Park, home to the F1 Grand Prix, is Albert Park Golf, a public golf course right in the heart of the city and one of Melbourne’s best public golf clubs. Located in the heart of Melbourne, this public course is ideal for mid-week escapes from the office to smack a few balls while the boss isn’t looking or a great place to practice your game without having to travel far.
You don’t have to drive too far out when playing on these grounds as this iconic golf course is conveniently situated less than 2km from the Melbourne CBD, adjacent to St Kilda Boulevard. Albert Park Golf Course has an 18-hole layout with stunning views of the city skylines. This venue is also home to the F1 Australian Grand Prix, so the course is in perfect condition all year round. This course also offers mini-golf, the ideal social activity in the summer if you want to play leisurely. However, for golf enthusiasts, grab your club and book a tee time.
This course is situated in the picturesque Albert Park near the Royal Botanic Gardens. As you make your way through the 18 holes, you'll get to take in stunning views of the Melbourne skyline. The course offers a mix of pars, but most holes are par five, making this course a solid choice for beginner golfers. Clubs, golf carts and buggies are all available for hire, and you can also play mini-golf if you prefer.
Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club
Sanctuary Lakes is a huge celebration of Greg Norman, the man responsible for designing the course and naming it after the Great White Shark and naming the street after him (Greg Norman Drive). If you're willing to pay a little more for a properly rewarding day of golf, Sanctuary Lakes is a great option. Golf Australia named it the best publicly accessible course in Melbourne.
Only twenty minutes from the city centre, this course has a full driving range and all the other amenities you'd expect from a championship layout. Nonetheless, it's common knowledge that you'll muff the opening tee shot every day.
Sandringham Golf Course
Sandringham Golf Course welcomes all school-age children 16 years and under to come and play for FREE. Juniors must play with a parent or guardian. Tee times are available after 1.30 pm. They also run special coaching clinics on Sundays and through the school holidays at very reasonable prices.
Their function room can cater to up to 150 guests with various menus at different price points. Their resident PGA Professional Brendan Green is available for private group coaching sessions. Everything about Sandringham is a serious golf course, despite the affordable green fee. Ideal for junior golfers, seniors and just about everyone else who wants to enjoy proper Melbourne golfing, Sandringham’s layout values proper shot selection and skilful play above all else. It’s challenging, interesting, one of the best public courses in Melbourne and very, very good value.
Northcote Public Golf Course
If you like a bit of a challenge, this nine-hole course next to Merri Creek features 12 challenging bunkers and undulating fairways. The holes are a mix of three, four and five par holes, perfect.
For intermediate golfers hoping to work on their short game. Club and trolley hire are available, and if you find yourself loving the course, you can save a bit of money by signing on for a five- or seven-day pass.