By Henry Peters
OCEAN DUNES and Cape Wickham golf courses could turn Tasmania’s King Island into a golf destination worthy of comparison with the famed Monterey Peninsula in California, according to Ocean Dunes’ course architect Graeme Grant.
The mastermind behind Ocean Dunes says his soon-to-be-opened 6,365-metre par-72 links on King Island – situated in Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia – will help make the island Australia’s answer to Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, which are perennially ranked among the world’s very best.
“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, another spectacular golf course on King Island’s northwest tip. “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 will captivate the golfer with stunning coastal views and inland holes that meander through majestic sand dunes.
Grant – who in a previous life partnered Jack Newton & 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,” admitted Grant, who moved to King Island two years ago with his wife Denise to give the golf course his full attention.
The Southern Ocean acts as a beautiful backdrop on the downhill approach to the par-five opening hole. At the short par-four second, the ocean skirts the right hand side of the hole and must be driven over at the long par-four third, while the 130-metre par-three fourth 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 hole as Ocean Dunes’ ‘signature hole’ but does say 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. Care had to be taken to ensure the footprint was as small as possible so that once finished everything fitted seamlessly together. 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 number one 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 its distinct strengths,” Grant stated. “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.”
All holes at Ocean Dunes have at least four different teeing grounds, which Grant explained will make the course playable for not only mid to high handicappers, but also elite players wishing to test their mettle from the back tees.
Currently, the equivalent of 12 holes have been completed and Ocean Dunes is expected to be open for play in February 2016.
For more info on the new courses visit www.oceandunes.com.au