Okey-Doak, Barwon Heads rates well

Published on 30th December 2018 in members and guests

Tom Doak, whose ideas on golf course design are shaped by having seen nearly every great course in the world, (more than 1,000 in all) publishes a famous directory of international golf courses.

Titled ‘The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses’ it has recently been revised and Volume 5 featuring Asia, Australia and New Zealand is now available. The Barwon Heads Golf Club fares very well.

In Volume 5, reviews are written by world class architect Tom Doak based on his own personal observations plus the input of his three co-authors, Ran Morrissett, Masa Nishijima, and Planet Golf’s Darius Oliver. Each course is graded on a 0-10 scale by each author who has seen it.

According to the Planet Golf website, “These reviews will provide honest and unvarnished views from the authors that will help you plan your golf vacations, business side trips and golf adventures. The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses is the most collected and most referenced golf book in the modern era.



“I’ve been called a lot more names than most golf course architects. Iconoclastic. Cerebral. A traditionalist, and a radical. I love to be considered a radical, but it’s ironic that we’re also trusted consultants to some of the most conservative golf clubs in America. Most of all, I’ve been labeled as “controversial.” But so, too, were my heroes in the business, Alister MacKenzie and Pete Dye.” Tom Doak


Tom Doak visited Barwon Heads in 1988 and rated the course ‘5’ in the first ‘Confidential’ published in 1996. While noting the course’s reputation at the time as “the best links course in Australia” he was critical that “the scrubby trees surrounding a good portion of the holes get away from the links feel.”

Tom played the course again (anonymously) in 2016 and in Volume 5 he now scores the course a ‘7’, a considerable jump in terms of his rating scale. Alongside the score he writes, “the course’s links bona fides have only been enhanced by the recent clearing and bunker work.”

Course Superintendent, Adam Lamb, says it is the best compliment, in regards to the course, that he has come across while working with (course architects) Crafter & Mogford under the multi-year CDP (course development plan).

“Due to his extensive work across the globe and studies he has undertaken, Tom is likely to become the Dr. Alister Mackenzie of our era.” Adam Lamb. 


Tom’s rating of seven makes it “an excellent course, worth checking out if you get anywhere within 100 miles (160kms) and where a visitor can expect to find soundly designed, interesting holes, good course conditioning, and a pretty setting.” So, on Tom’s advice, if you find yourself living in Melbourne or visiting Melbourne then a golf trip to Barwon Heads is “worth checking out.” International visitors arriving in Victoria to play at Royal Melbourne, or any of its esteemed neighbours, could take a 90-minute drive down the highway to the Surf Coast to check out what Tom describes as a “fine change of pace from the sandbelt.”

But if “worth checking out” doesn’t quite have the pull of a score of 10 – i.e. “Drop the book and call your travel agent immediately” – there are other enticing reasons to visit Barwon Heads.

The opening holes.

Doak’s book ranks those on the Barwon Heads course some of the best – “an exhilarating stretch”, up there with Ocean Dunes. The 13th hole also gets an honourable mention as one of the best par-3s in the book.

Bawon Heads Golf Club 13th hole

The 13th hole. A par 3 so good a nearby beach was named after it.

And then there’s the Clubhouse. In Volume 5 the Barwon Heads Clubhouse is selected as one of the nine ‘most stylish’ in the region. This makes Barwon Heads a significant drawcard considering these nine have been selected from all clubhouses within Asia, New Zealand and the rest of Australia.

Barwon Heads ClubhouseIn Doak’s book Barwon Heads also tops the list of seven ‘Best Club Accommodations’.

So, adding it all up, a stay and play at Barwon Heads must be one of Oceania’s best golf experiences. Perhaps you should drop what you’re doing and call your travel agent.

Thank you, Messrs Doak, Morrissett, Nishijima and Oliver.

Booking enquiry link




← Back to previous page