This article proudly brought to you by Golf Rewards
Being on a long road trip or on the annual getaway doesn't mean you can't sneak in a decent round of golf.
And whilst it's always nice to splurge on the most famous of tracks, why not consider a less-than-prodigious spend on golf courses that still offer some genuine excitement?
Do they even exist?
Thanks for asking, because the answer is yes. If you look hard enough, and are prepared to travel just a little further, you'll find these gems - golf courses we'd happily play every day of the week, courses that are located near BIG4 parks, and with green fees that won't send you bankrupt.
By Roy Fleming
In the lead-up to my first child being born in 1999, I grabbed as many rounds as I could at Murwullimbah. Why? Because it was the best quality golf course for under $30 a round that I had ever played on and affordable for a family on a budget.
The sweet crack of the driver face off the first tee here is something you never forget because the noise hangs in the air. The dew, the lush fairways, the mob of kangaroos guarding the fairway bunker on the first - again, only add to the experience.
Set inland from Hastings Point in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Murwullimbah is still a quiet little hamlet waiting to be discovered. Byron Bay is only an hour away, the Gold Coast only 30 minutes - and although Murwullimbah is technically an inland town it still has a beachy vibe.
Surrounded on three sides by national forests, and with a thriving arts community, there's lots to love about Murwullimbah. Especially that golf course.
Note: The course has undergone dramatic upgrades since I last played it in 1998 and it is now ranked at number 79 in Australia's top 100 public access golf courses. The judges singled out its views of Mt Warning, its interesting and challenging design and the quality of its playing surfaces as its key features.
Price: Still under $40 per round, and only $30 for 18 on Mondays and Fridays.
I have played golf throughout most of Australia, England and Dubai, including the Emirates course a week after Tiger Woods won a dramatic play-off against German Martin Kaymer in 2008.
My experience includes US$200 rounds of golf throughout the United Arab Emirates on courses designed by the who's who of world golf and with teams of helpers to improve the experience and/or justify the eye-watering expense.
I report with sincerity that the experiences offer no comparison to the Joondalup course in Perth, WA. It is simply the best golf course I have played.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but whenever I played Joondalup I found myself constantly enthralled by the audaciousness and brilliance of its design, and its sheer beauty. Really, nothing more to say.
Note: You have to watch out for special online deals for Joondalup to get a round (with cart) for under $100. Trust me, it is the best $100 you'll ever spend on golf.
Price: Minimum $80. They have transferable memberships beginning at $10,500, but playing it every weekend would be like quaffing Grange every night. One to savour, not devour.
If experiences are about friends, locations and laughs - then isn't that more valuable than a less-than-fun experience on more magnificent real estate? Isn't the classic holiday just as memorable as a stay in a premier park based on your expectations?
During the first week of December my friends and I found ourselves in Eildon when our annual golf trip to the Murray Masters was cancelled due to forecast biblical rains. So we did what everyone else would do, and headed straight to Eildon where the state's fourth-largest downpour (143mm) would be recorded over the next three days.
When the clouds finally parted and the mist cleared we found the Eildon Golf Club. By then we were so desperate to compete that any golf course would have felt like Augusta.
We expected a goat track but were pleasantly surprised to find a well-maintained 18-hole layout with sensational views across the high country. A challenging layout which asked more questions about your ability than it gave answers.
And not another human being for miles.
Note: Bring your own motorised golf cart, or a sense of humour, it's super hilly.
Price: $20 into an honesty box. Yep, golf like it used to be.
Book your stay at: BIG4 Taggerty Holiday Park.
Sydney's west is getting a reputation these days for the quality and size of its golf courses.
Understandable, really, when you consider how tight the Sydney housing market has become and the lack of land to build big courses in the metropolitan area.
Head west and you'll find Twin Creeks, Stonecutters Ridge, Macquarie Links and - my favourite - Lynwood Country Club. Here lives golfing's equivalent of the unicorn: a round of golf, less than an hour from Sydney, on a championship course, for $40.
Lynwood will warm your soul and break your heart and vice versa, with 18 championship holes in a resort-style layout only minutes from the famous Hawkesbury River.
How does this course differ from the best of inner Sydney's public courses? Easy. The greens are bigger and faster, the fairways wider and more bunkered, and burgers from the mid-round kiosk aren't deconstructed.
Note: If you feel sold on Lynwood, please factor in the toll road costs from Sydney CBD. They're brutal.
Price: Pretty much bang-on $40 every week, which makes it worth the drive.
Book your stay at: Ingenia Holidays Nepean River.
Brisbane might be marketing itself as an affordable alternative to Melbourne and Sydney real estate prices - but someone forgot to tell the golf courses.
Pound for pound, Brisbane fights in the heavyweight division based on price-per-round of its best courses, and there's a gulf in quality between its premium courses and public access.
But it's not all doom and gloom.
My personal recommendation is Indooroopilly, or Indro as the locals call it. The complex has 36 holes (two 18-hole layouts) and the consistency and quality of championship golf at a price that might keep you coming back.
Think challenging layouts with tightly-mown fairways, deep bunkering with clean edges; fast, pure greens, and the vista of the mighty Brisbane River.
The annual subscription to Indro is $3700 for a full playing member, but you can access the course mid-week from just $40. Not bad for a pair of championship courses just 20 minutes from a capital city centre.
Note: Head to the Gold Coast if you want truly amazing resort golf.
Price: $40 for Tuesday and Thursday (18), then $75+ for Friday and weekend rounds.
Is there an Australian golf course that took you by surprise?
Isn’t it time you had a golfing getaway? Book your next BIG4 break now.
Contact the BIG4 National Support Office via our contact us page.
Inspire someone you know to get out and explore this beautiful country of ours. Start them on their way by surprising them with a BIG4 Gift Card.