SO, YOU’VE just read all about the spectacular Cape Wickham golf course opening later this month. But just down the road is a jaw-dropping stretch of land being quietly transformed into something that will help turn Tasmania’s King Island into a golf destination worthy of comparison with the famed Monterey Peninsula in California.
That’s the word from respected course architect Graeme Grant, the mastermind behind King Island’s second shoreline installment, Ocean Dunes, a 6,365-metre, par-72 links layout just five minutes from King Island airport.
“The golf courses are going to be of a similar nature to Cypress Point and Pebble Beach,” Grant said referring to Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham. “I think we’ve got two world-class golf courses here but I do realise this has to be confirmed by the players who will hopefully spread the word over the next two or three years.”
Just like Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, Ocean Dunes promises to captivate the golfer with stunning coastal views and inland holes that meander through majestic sand dunes.
Grant – who previously teamed up with Jack Newton and John Spencer in golf course design and was the course superintendent at Kingston Heath for 16 years – believes golfers will be immediately drawn in by the coastal stretch of the opening four holes at Ocean Dunes.
“Watching and listening to the various moods of the ocean from dead-calm quiet to thundering waves crashing onto the rocks is an experience not to be missed,” says Grant, who moved to King Island two years ago with his wife Denise to give the golf course his full attention.
He intends to make Ocean Dunes his final design project, and what a way to go out. The Southern Ocean acts as a beautiful backdrop on the downhill approach to the par-5 opening hole. At the short, par-4 second, the ocean skirts the right-hand side of the hole and it must be driven over at the long, par-4 third. The 130m, par-3 fourth [above, middle] promises to be one of the most photographed holes in Australian golf with an ocean carry to a green perched out on a rocky point.
Grant is reluctant to refer to the fourth as Ocean Dunes’ “signature hole” but admits it is special. Surrounded by coastal rocks and water, there was just enough room within a small peninsula south of an inlet to construct a shallow but wide green. The tee is on another narrow peninsula north of the inlet and so close to the sea that players will feel and taste the salt spray from the waves.
Grant revealed a visit he made some years ago to New Jersey’s Pine Valley – which has regularly been ranked the world’s No.1 course – inspired him to create 18 great holes rather than just a handful of spectacular ones. “Every hole there was unique, which is a special thing to see and, because of the land here at Ocean Dunes, each of our holes will also have distinct strengths,” Grant says. “The bold and spectacular dunes, the coastal stretch and the creek flowing through the property distinguish the site from any other. It inspires and challenges your imagination and commands you to create something exceptional with each hole.”
Ocean Dunes will open the front nine on October 30, coinciding with the opening of nearby Cape Wickham.
“Ocean Dunes is just five minutes from King Island Airport. Cape Wickham is just half an hour away by car and with Barnbougle’s Dunes and Lost Farm courses, Tasmania is shaping as one of the truly great golf destinations in the world,” says Grant.