Ocean Dunes brushes the sleep away from your eyes in more ways than one. Yes, the 13th-ranked course in Australia is constantly buffeted by strong winds whipping off Bass Strait and striking the rugged west coast of King Island, which can make it impossible for anything unfixed to remain still. But the other reason the Graeme Grant-designed layout attracts golfers’ attention is the epic opening stretch of holes. Some golf courses like to build to a crescendo. Not Ocean Dunes. It throws its aces on the table from the outset, including an opening quartet of holes that have to be seen – then played – to be believed.
The first hole is a dogleg par 5 framed by a huge dune and bunker combination that are the focal point of the opening salvo before the fairway turns and descends towards a green set flush against the ocean with thousands upon thousands of kilometres of blue water as a backdrop. Are you awake yet? the course quickly muses to its challengers.
The second hole is a short par 4 played to a wide but shallow green that’s hidden from view unless you run an audacious drive down the more daring right side that’s long enough to finish pin-high or close to it. Otherwise, a blind, scary half-wedge is your approach. Next is a brute of a par 4 played across a cove in the shoreline to a green only reachable in two shots by the very best pair of strikes.
The opening foursome ends with the postcard fourth, a short par 3 to an hourglass-shaped green that’s so close to the water’s edge, there is every chance you might be lining up a birdie putt by peering through salt spray being thrown onto the putting surface by the gods. It’s a truly memorable run of holes that surely ranks among the best opening stretches in the game.
Ocean Dunes doesn’t lose much pace thereafter, serving up 14 more holes that weave towards, alongside and away from the coastline setting that’s captivated golfers since the course opened in 2016. It’s the mix of holes and artfully canted green complexes in a stunning if capricious setting that makes the junior member of the King Island golf scene such an unmissable attraction.