With more than 350 courses dotted across the state, there are plenty of places to tee off in NSW. If you’ve never played before and are looking for some tips or you’re in search of your new favourite course, our expert’s guide has you covered.
Professional golfer Tahnia Ravnjak grew up in Wollongong and has been playing on the world’s best golf courses since her teens. A WPGA tournament winner, she played in her first Australian Open in 2020. Here, she shares her expert advice and favourite courses in NSW.
What NSW courses do you recommend for a first-time golfer?
If you have never played golf before but are keen to have a go, I would recommend Bondi Golf Club. It is a short nine-hole course with straight forward holes, has amazing views and it won’t break the bank. Bondi Golf Club is a great place to start when you’re getting into the game, because it won’t take hours to play – which can be daunting for some.
Russell Vale Golf Club, just north of Wollongong, is also a great place to start. It is predominantly a Par 3 course, which makes it beginner-friendly, and it’s publicly owned by the council so is open to anyone. Plus the views are great!
Which NSW course would be a worthy challenge for an experienced golfer?
Bonville Golf Resort puts you to the test in every way possible. There are a number of different types of shots you are required to hit to give yourself the best chance. The holes are unique and there are plenty of opportunities for risk/reward shots.
Magenta Shores on the Central Coast is also a great challenge, especially when the wind gets up. It will test your shot shaping skills into tight pins.
What resorts or hotels do you recommend where I can stay and play?
Definitely Duntryleague Golf Club in Orange or Bonville Golf Club outside Coffs Harbour. Both have accommodation on site, the facilities are great and there’s lots of sightseeing in the area, making them great options for a weekend away.
Which region has the best courses if I want to plan a golf trip?
The Central Coast is a great place to visit to play some awesome golf with 10 courses close together. Magenta Shores would have to be one of the toughest golf courses I’ve played – especially when the wind gets up… And make sure you bring lots of golf balls. Kooindah Waters is just a short drive from Magenta and is also a great course to play. Wyong, Shelly Beach, Tuggerah Lakes and Toukley are all great places to enjoy a round with your friends.
Do I need to be a member of a club to play?
It depends. For private 'members only' clubs - you can only play there if you are a member or as a guest of a member. But there are plenty of public courses all around NSW where you you don’t need to be a member to play a social round of golf. Check the website or give them a call before you go.
Do I need to buy my own equipment or can I hire it?
You don’t need to have your own gear; you can hire golf clubs and even golf buggies from the pro shop when you arrive. You will need to buy golf balls and maybe a few tees, but everything you need to set out for your round can be organised through the pro shop.
I’m new to golf – are there any unspoken rules or special phrases that I need to know?
Always call the pro shop to book in before you go, don’t just turn up. There could be a competition on that day or the course could be booked out and you won’t be able to get a game.
Golf etiquette is important – respect the players in your group, especially if you don’t know them, and don’t talk when they are taking their shot (though a bit of banter among friends is fine).
Be careful where you are walking on the green – you don’t want to step on the “line” of someone’s putt.
When you are teeing off, make sure you don’t tee up your ball in front of the tee markers.
If you hit your shot “on the dance floor” that means you have hit it onto the green.
Playing “army golf” is when you hit the ball all over the course, going left, right, left and into the trees.
“Birdie” means your score is one shot less than par (eg: scoring 3 on a Par 4).
“Fix your divot” – when you hit a shot and take a clump of grass with it, you need to repair it with sand. You should always carry a small sand bucket, which are available at the golf club
"FORE" – this is what you shout if it looks like your ball might hit someone. Or if you're playing and you hear someone shout "fore", it might be a good idea to put your arms over your head and check that there aren't any golf balls flying in your direction!