Integral to the appeal of the game is the endless variety of the playing arenas.
What sets golf aside from all other games is how few boundaries the playing arena has.
Four and a quarter inches, the diameter of the hole, is essentially the only set dimension in golf. This provides course designers huge scope for both spectacular shots and dramatic vistas as each course traverses its unique topography.
From daunting to exhilaration, meditative to breathtaking, golf courses take you on an emotional journey like no other sport.
What a golf course is, and can be, is a direct reflection of the location, topography, soil type and climate. Day to day conditions determined by the season and weather make each course present different challenges each and every time you play.
With over 33 000 courses in 208 countries the variety in courses is hard to comprehend. The lure to experience this variety is strong and common in those hooked on the game.
And in Australia we have some of the best courses on the planet.
We are fortunate to have both great variety and a wide distribution of quality courses. By world standard golf is also very affordable here with golf being accessible to a broader demographic than many parts of the world.
Australians have an enviable array of public access golf. True public golf is where the course is public land and the local council will control the use either employing and running the facility themselves or having a management company run it on their behalf.
Examples of these are Moore Park in Sydney, Albert Park in Melbourne, North Adelaide, Brisbane’s Victoria Park and Wembley in Perth. They provide central, affordable and easily accessible golf for anyone interested.
Often well suited to beginners and recreational players these courses tend to be less challenging than many private and resort courses. A great place for your regular round. If you are improving and want to keep score this will be an ideal place to use your Emajin membership and play the weekly competitions as public course rarely run have their own competitions.
Affordability and a casual experience are becoming the focus of these style of facilities as public golf tends to evolves to societal trends before more traditional club. Make sure you are organised though as getting a tee time can be difficult with golf’s popularity rising. Public courses are increasingly using online booking systems and also often have facilitates like driving ranges and putting greens.
The good news is golf offers much more than just public golf for those not members of traditional clubs.
Private and Semi Private Clubs:
These are courses owned and run by their members.
Depending on the demographics, demand, history and the desire of the membership; these courses range from rudimentary to immaculately presented championship layouts.
In terms of design Australia has everything from courses that have evolved through input from generations of members to those expertly designed, or redesigned by the world best course architects.
A number of Australian courses are considered truly world class. For example Royal Melbourne is ranked in the top 10 and Sydney’s News South Wales GC is in the top 50 of the world’s 33000 courses.
As the game evolved and championships were held to determine the best players, golf found itself focussing attention on the venues that regularly host the top events. Courses whose design has become known to challenge the full range of skill of the best players. The mystique around such venues drives demand for membership and those who want to visit and play the hallowed fairways. Playing a course where you have watched the best compete is a reality unique to golf.
The hallowed courts and grounds of other sports are off limits to the casual player yet the golf enthusiast can, in many cases, stride the same fairways as the greats. Recreate shots and putts the champions faced. It can be quite the thrill and ask a golfer for their bucket list places to play and often courses that have hosted big events will rank highly.
Understandably as demand for these experiences rises clubs need ways to limit numbers and have assurance visitors will know what they are doing. Outside high green fees often requiring a handicap is necessary for access to such courses. An Emajin membership gives you access to a handicap and hence a chance to play many courses you couldn’t without one. Also Emajin events visit some of the best courses in the country.
Resort and Destination golf courses:
Golf can be a wonderful escape from the grind of work so no surprise that holiday destinations often have golf courses as a feature. Queensland’s Golf Coast set the bar in the late 80s and 90s with prolific growth of the Resort Course.
These are generally big scale championship length courses often incorporating water hazards and dramatic shots. Designed to accommodate visitors these are pay for play venues where all you need is a booking and be prepared for the green fee which can in some occasions require the use of a cart. These developments are often strung out around a resort or large property development and the golf cart can be welcome to save your legs on long distances between greens and tees.
This style of public access pay for play has evolved over time with the trend towards courses aimed at golf purist. Places that offer just golf and accommodation for enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the game. Often these are embracing the traditions of the games roots in Scotland and many are links courses. Beginning on the Oregon Coast at Bandon Dunes, that now boasts that now has six courses, this resort style has proven for golfers that ‘If you build it they will come’.
This inspired a slew of similar resorts around the world. Fortunately for Australians you can experience these at places like Barnbougle Dunes in NE Tasmania and Cape Wickham with more planned including on Kangaroo Island.
Emajin member, Tim Borham recently won the monthly competition playing a round at Barnbougle Dunes.
Country and regional Golf:
Get out of the major cities with your clubs and an open mind and the golf experiences will surprise and delight.
Seemingly every country town has a course and they inevitably reflect the spirit of the region and its people. Depending on the time of year and day of the week you may be welcomed to join a local competition or access might be by slipping a $10 note in an envelope in the Honesty box. While seeing other players may be rare you will almost certainly experience something out of the ordinary. Country course memories are rarely forgotten and remind us of the simple pleasures of the game.
Improving your golf IQ:
Seeking out different courses elicits a sense of adventure. Your game will improve as you adapt and refine your skills to meet the varied challenges of each course. You will also be following in the footsteps of centuries of golfers who have been drawn to explore the nuance of layouts far from home.
The world handicap system translates your skill level to any course and Emajin’s Australia wide competitions means you can mix your love of a road trip with the thrill of a good round and winning prizes. What are you waiting for?
Your Emajin membership and a GA handicap is truly your passport to a world of golfing adventures.
PGA Pro Allan Haughie talks about the perfect Chip and Run shot. If you’re just off the green, but too far from the hole to putt, the chip and run is the perfect solution to a tricky situation. Add Allan’s simple technique to your repertoire and you’ll be dropping shots from your handicap like a pro in no time.
PGA Pro Allan Haughie talks about the perfect Drive from the tee. If you’re looking to get some extra power in your tee shoot and still have it go exactly where you need it to, Allan’s tips are absolutely priceless. And this one couldn’t be simpler. Watch the video to learn more.
So, you’ve gotten a handicap and are keen to get out and play some golf. But what now? Where do you find and book a round?
Good news: you have plenty of options!
There are plenty of golf courses all around Australia, so whether you’re looking for a convenient local course or are keen to see some amazing new sights, there’s certainly a course for the occasion. That said, it’s important to be organised in booking rounds, so that you can be entered into the competition. Since COVID, the popularity of golf has been at a high, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to play a round without booking in advance.
If you’re new to booking golf rounds, here are a few tips!
Emajin Tee it Up Booking:
First, Check out Emajin’s Tee it Up tab to find courses near you. We have collated a list of over 500 golf courses where you can book and play. Check out: https://emajin.golf/tee-it-up/
At Emajin Golf we run a series of great events at some of the finest golf courses in Australia as well as hidden gems. These provide an opportunity to participate in some well organised and fun golf days, and these provide different options on the day for golfers of all ability levels. Check out https://emajin.golf/event/
Many public courses have moved to online bookings, streamlining the process of finding and booking a game. You can search for and book times when it suits you, rather than having to call in during business hours or wait for replies from emails or phone messages.
Golf booking sites are extremely easy and convenient options to book a game once you get the hang of them. If you’re not tech savvy, here are a couple of booking pages for Australian golf courses to familiarise yourself with!
Once you’ve made a booking, remember to check in at least 15min before your game. You need to be ready to tee off at your tee time, not just arriving to the club.
This is the most common form of golf competition, and will most likely be the format you compete in when you start booking rounds at clubs. Scores are based off a point system, where, depending on the handicap, a player will earn points according to the number of shots they have on a hole. At the end of a round, you’ll submit the number of points you scored in the competition, and the player with the highest points will win the day’s comp. Depending on how you played, your handicap might adjust accordingly; going down if you’ve done better and going up if you didn’t have a great round. Since this competition runs almost daily, it’s a casual way of getting into the habit of playing more golf.
Open days and Back Tee challenges:
Many semi-private member courses offer Open events to visitors with a GA handicap. These are usually on a regular basis, for example, weekly or monthly.
Some events are especially designed to test your game to the limit. These are generally known as Back Tee challenge events that see courses set up at their full length and often with pins tucked in tricky spots.
Though a lot of these challenges are not for the faint of heart, they can be extremely fun and highly rewarding. This is also a great chance to get access to some member clubs which may not otherwise have public tee times.
Make sure to check the details of these events, though. They sometimes include pre- and post-game snacks and drinks, which are included in the price of the event! We’ve listed some example open comps below:
Ambrose (or Scramble) events follow a team format, which can be heaps of fun to play with friends! Teams are formed of 2-4 players. All players will hit their tee shot, and the team will then select the best tee shot. Everyone besides the player with the best tee shot will pick up their balls, and resume play from where the best shot landed. This process of everyone hitting and then selecting the best shot will continue until the ball is holed. Because players get to choose the best shot each time, the scoring for Ambrose can be very low, resulting in a fun yet still competitive game!
The PGA runs an Australia-wide Scramble (previously known as the Holden Scramble), where teams can compete locally to qualify for regional, and then national, finals.
Sounds like fun? Get a team together and check out the website for details!
Scramble events are also run at many clubs, and are often the chosen format of corporate or charity events.
Stroke and Medal events:
This is the format most seen at professional tournaments. Instead of allocating points based on the amount of shots taken and a player’s handicap (as in a normal Stableford round), Stroke rounds count only how many shots you’ve taken in the round: lowest score wins. In amateur Stroke or Medal events, there are usually Gross (handicap not taken away) and Net (handicap taken away from final score) winners, so there’s plenty of opportunity for new players to participate in Stroke rounds!
For players interested in a more competitive format, this is how most National and State championships are contested: each state will run regional events and championships annually. There are different categories and events for women, men and seniors (generally those over 50 years of age). Other events include Sand Greens competitions, held on regional courses that use sand scrapes for putting surfaces instead of grass greens.