We have all been bust’in to get out. So here are 10 hidden gem golf courses near Canberra (some are actually in the city and other’s are a day’s drive away) that you maybe able to negotiate some quality time apart from your family this holiday season. We enjoy finding these hidden gems and putting them into our itineraries for our clients to find they love them too.
Tathra Beach Country Club (South Coast NSW)
Ok, it is a 13 hole golf course. If you want to play 18 you can do another circut where the tees are in completely different positions and the holes indeed change. But this is a sand belt course on a coastal strip. It is playing off tight, clean but undulating lies to small greens over the top of Spotted Gums which are radndomly placed in the fairway. It is a bit funky and a bit different and adds to the diversity of layouts on the NSW South Coast. You also get the chance to checkout beautiful Tahtra as well.
Newcastle Golf Club (Port Stephens)
You may not consider this be to so much hidden. For decades it inhabited the top 20 of Australia’s golf course according to Australian Golf Digest but kept a low profile otherwise. However the Stockton layout has become more accessible in the last few years and it features some of the most natural terrain for a golf course anywhere. Crisscrossing ancient sand dunes, it is a sand belt classic. The 5th, 6th and 7th holes use the terrain perfectly to form one of the great sequences of holes in Australian golf. There are plans to redesign the last six holes to again to put it back into the top twenty. But it is well worth the green fee and the 30 min drive from Port Stephens.
Shoalhaven Heads Golf Club (South Coast NSW)
It took 30 years of community effort to develop this course from a 3 hole layout to an 18 hole championship course but it is there now. Shoalhaven Heads is one of the best courses on the NSW South Coast and the back nine is one of the best and most fun links nines in NSW. A favourite hole is the drivable par 4 14th . With a north-eastly blowing, you could put it on in one, into a southerly it is more strategy. Either way if you miss the green, you can double easily. Carved out of coastal forest next to the beach, it is wonderful test of strategy and shotmaking. Not long but still lots of OB out there for the slicers amongst you. If you love links golf, then is worth the short drive out from Nowra.
Gerrigong Golf Club (South Coast NSW)
A half hour drive from Shoalhaven Heads is another surprising links course. Here fairways are less vigorously enforced but offer the best routes to the isolated greens. It has epic vews of the beaches and headlands of the South Coast and yes it is hilly ( so if you not into the workout, take a cart). The highlight is the par 5 4th which is a double water carry around the beach to an elevated green. Being completely open to the wind, it could be a monster if it gets breezy. Another hidden gem of the NSW South Coast.
Thurgoona Golf Club (Murray River)
Never really talked about much when there is discussion is about Murray River courses, this East Albury layout has some fine Peter Thomson designed holes, including two great back nine par 3’s in the 12th and 16th. It again has that Peter Thomson design quality of options to the fairway and precision to the green. Fine conditioning, alongside a large clubhouse make this a worthwhile diversion off the Hume Highway. We will always recommend it in our Murray River itineraries.
Tocumwal Golf Club (Murray Valley)
An hour west of Albury, the climate is appreciably drier. But that doesn’t stop this 36 hole course staying green even during most searing droughts. It get it’s water from the mighty Murray which glides close-by. “Toc” features a President and a Captains 18 and both are tight, demanding layouts. The fairways are narrow but provide good value for the straight hit drive whilst the greens are fast and true. Amazing how a town of 2000 can have such a great golfing facility.
Fairbairn Golf Club (Canberra)
Fairbairn is an 18 holer out beside the RAAF base in Canberra. It is often not known about or mentioned by our clients for a Capital Bucketlist Tour. However it is a fun and funky layout which is also the most improved conditioned course in Canberra. With a recently installed irrigation system and some new bunkering, it is course where you have to shape the ball if you want to bomb it. It has some drivable par 4’s and some of the longest holes in Canberra. The greens are small and in some cases severely tiered. It is bit old fashioned but it is fun. There are birdies and bogeys to be made out at Fairbairn. The last time I played there I had four birdies in the first 10 holes, the rest were bogeys!
Gold Creek Country Club (Canberra)
Most of our clients are unaware of Gold Creek when we suggest to put it on their Canberra itineraries. It was the venue for the 2021 Australian Junior Amateur Championships, were it received praise for it’s conditioning and toughness, especially in the wind. Perched on top of a hill in northern Canberra, off the back tips it is the longest course in Canberra, measuring just over 6400m. It probably plays longer than that with a number of uphill par 4’s in the 380-400m range. However you will also be helped by Canberra’s altitude and warm summer days which can help you hit your longest drives ever. Designed by champion Australian golfer Bruce Devlin it is a more open, almost links style course than other Canberra courses. It’s superb couch fairways and bent greens also make it from tee to green, one of the best conditioned courses in Canberra.
Hawks Nest Golf Club (Port Stephens)
While not as well known as it’s counterparts across the water at Port Stephens, Hawks Nest deserves to be on anyone’s itinerary when visiting north of Newcastle. More forgiving than other nearby regional favourites like Pacific Dunes or Nelson Bay, it is still a tree lined journey across coastal dunes. It is a par 72 layout measuring 6079m off the back. It is one of the best drainage courses in NSW and you hit off manicured Kikuyu fairways onto lovely bent greens. No less than champion Australian golfer Craig Parry thinks that this is a hidden gem.
Kooindah Waters Golf Club (Central Coast)
Not exactly a hidden gem as it is ranked within Australian Golf Digest Top 100 courses but I believe it is underrated . Designed by Craig Parry along with Ross Watson, it has from time to time had problems with it’s greens but when they are good, they are lovely to putt on. Maybe this has held it’s ranking back but it is demanding resort course of the tee with lots of lurking water. Kooindah has at least half a dozen great holes on it which will have you thinking how to play them. You can lose a lot of balls at Kooindah. My father finally gave up golf and gave his last remaining golf balls to me. Lost them all nearly in just one round at Kooindah! But play well there and you will have a real smile on your face.
Perhaps this is a preliminary list. As we begin to service more areas in regional NSW , we will continue to find more hidden gem golf courses. We look forward to bringing you more of these under recognised but great golf courses.