Anyone up for Golf in Australia?

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

Kiwi Insider John Nielsen tells us all about some of Australia’s best golf courses. Be sure to consider Australia as a prime destination if you’re looking to go on a relaxing golf vacation or want to stay at a golf resort. The beautiful photo running with this article is a courtesy of Gary Lisbon Golf Photography.

Australia Golf CoursesKeen golfers traveling to Australia have traditionally sought out the golden sunshine coast of Queensland with its pristine beaches and resort style golf courses. That is now slowly, but surely beginning to change. For the keen golfer the famous Melbourne sandbelt golf courses are a “must” to play, but now new developments are changing the fairways and offering visitors an opportunity to play superb designer courses.

On a global scale Australia has produced its fair share of champions. From five time British Open winner, Peter Thomson to Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and the 2009 Accenture World Match Play Championship Winner Geoff Ogilvy.

The state of Victoria is the home to some of the world’s leading golf courses, according to golfdigest.com. The courses are exclusive and private members based with only limited opportunities for visitors. The Melbourne sandbelt golf courses include Royal Melbourne (6), host of the 2010 Presidents Cup, Kingston Heath (15) and The Metropolitan (53), host of the recent Australian Ladies Masters won by Laura Davies. The classic sandbelt courses have gentle undulations, distinctive featured fairways, fast greens and magnificent bunkers, all hallmarks of top global golf courses. The courses are all located with-in 20 min drive of Melbourne’s CBD and count many of Melbourne’s business elite as their members.

For those not so fortunate to be members, Melbourne’s suburbs have an excellent range of public courses that will be a stern test for any golfer. During the past 10 years a gradual change in golf course landscape has taken place with a number of “semi” private club’s arriving on the scene.

Large real estate developments that include golf courses have opened up. Developers have sought leading players to design their courses and use the brand names of world-class golfers to help market the project. Amongst the first of these was the Sanctuary Lakes project designed by Greg Norman. Established in 1999 and located west of Melbourne or only a 20 min drive from down town it now has 1600 private residence and offers a “resort” style living with excellent leisure facilities.

The course is recognized as one of Australia’s top 50 courses and played host to the Victorian PGA Championship in February. Greg Norman recently completed the Settlers Run course development south of Melbourne.

Another Australian golfing great; Peter Thomson recently opened “The Champions Course” at Sandhurst Club, adding a second Championship course to the 800 house development. The course pays tribute to past Australian PGA Champions and has proved a success with visitors and members.

The two new developments are located 25 miles from Melbourne CBD or 40 minute easy drive on the freeway.

A number of companies have seen the advantages of combining golf with a conference at such venues where employee’s are based in first rate surroundings away from the hectic pace of the city and can finish the day off with 9-holes.

Next time you visit Melbourne, make sure you ask the concierge at your hotel to book a game of golf at one of these excellent venues, that is if you can’t get an invite to one of Melbourne’s sandbelt courses!

One gentleman that has got an invite is the world’s leading golfer Tiger Woods, who has just confirmed that he will be playing at Kingston Heath at the Australian Masters 2009, again highlighting the quality of the Melbourne sandbelt courses and their attraction.

“Tiger has always enjoyed playing golf in Australia and particularly likes the courses in the Australian sandbelt region,” said his US agent Mark Steinberg.

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