AAP Golf

Island golf course eyes Aust No.1 spot

By AAP Newswire

An island golf course where "you feel like you're playing on the edge of the world" has almost pipped perennial No.1 Royal Melbourne West for the top ranking in Australia.

Cape Wickham, on King Island in Bass Strait, leapfrogged Kingston Heath into second place on Australian Golf Digest's biennial ranking of the top 100 courses when the list was released on Thursday.

The Tasmanian links course was only completed in 2015 but almost immediately shot to international recognition and has been voted in the top 25 in the world.

Royal Melbourne has topped 16 of the 17 Australian Golf Digest rankings - in 2010 it dropped to third due to drought conditions.

But Digest editor Steve Keipert said Cape Wickham was closing the gap and could take top spot next time.

"It's an amazing golf course in an even more amazing setting," Keipert said.

"It's susceptible to all kinds of weather but it's really smartly-designed to the location it's in, just really cleverly planned given it's such a volatile location and climate.

"It's an amazing experience - you feel like you're playing golf on the edge of the world.

"This is the third top-three ranking for Cape Wickham since it opened and based on the way its progressed it definitely could become No.1.

"But we're also coming off the back of a really successful Presidents Cup which was another reminder of what a great course Royal Melbourne is.

"So many people see it as our eternal No.1 but Cape Wickham can't be ruled out."

Mount Compass in South Australia was the biggest improver and leapt 23 places to 73rd, while Twin Creeks in Sydney dropped 18 spots to 93rd and seven courses fell off the list.

The 2020 edition is the first ranking period when no new courses were built and Keipert expects that trend to continue due to the scarcity of available land near populous areas.

Cairns course Paradise Palms had never missed a spot in the rankings but closed for residential development, while Brisbane's North Lakes faced the same predicament.

Digest's judging panel was boosted from 45 to 182 people in a bid to give a better representation of the entire country and a more accurate assessment.

The Packer family's invite-only course Ellerston dropped three spots to 10th, while Clive Palmer's Coolum course jumped back into the rankings at 97.

Tasmania boasted three of the top seven courses while Victoria and NSW filled out the rest of the top 10.

There are between 1500 and 1600 golf courses in Australia and Keipert confirmed club memberships have continued their slow decline.

Australian Golf Digest Top 10 courses:-

1. Royal Melbourne West (Vic) 2. Cape Wickham (Tas) 3. Kingston Heath (NSW) 4. Barnbougle Dunes (Tas) 5. New South Wales (NSW) 6. Peninsula Kingswood North (Vic) 7. Barnbougle Lost Farm (Tas) 8. Royal Melbourne East (Vic) 9. Victoria (Vic) 10. Ellerston (NSW).