Aussies might insist Barnbougle Dunes is the greatest meeting of land and sea in golf. But elsewhere on this planet, spectacular new layouts are prepared to challenge that notion.
There’s the recently opened Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Canada plus two newbies on King Island, Tasmania: Cape Wickham Golf Course, designed by Mike DeVries and Darius Oliver, and the soon-to-open Ocean Dunes, laid out and managed by Graeme Grant. All three are magnificent cliff-top designs.
Another legitimate contender is Tara Iti Golf Club, a private club near Mangawhai, New Zealand, set to open this month.
It’s the newest, splendiferous creation by US architect Tom Doak and is built on what had been a pine-covered Sahara by the sea.
After removing acres of trees from the locale on the eastern coast of the country’s North Island, Doak and associate Brian Slawnik spent more than two years gently contouring the sandy soil, forming hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature.
There’s a lot of sand, but no bunkers. (Golfers may ground the club anywhere.)
From holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornoch and Royal St George’s, players are afforded breathtaking views of the Hauraki Gulf, the North Island’s answer to Pebble Beach’s Carmel Bay.
“What also struck me is how much it plays like a links – and how fun that is,” says Doak.
“You can’t take your eye off the ball until it stops rolling, and C.J. [Kreuscher, the course superintendent] has the playing surface so tight, the ball is still rolling long after you think it might stop.
“I played in April with everyone from a tour pro [Daniel Chopra] to 18-handicaps, and they all had smiles on their faces the whole time.
“And I couldn’t help but smile myself when someone would compare the place to Royal Dornoch or Cypress Point.”
The greatest meeting of land and sea is clearly up for debate.
– with Ron Whitten