First look: Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes golf courses on King Island

We got a first-hand look at the two new golf courses down on King Island a few weeks ago and they’re both destined to become two of Australia’s best. 

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If you haven’t already heard, the most exciting news in Australian golf right now is the opening of two new golf courses on King Island. Yep, two golf courses on King Island in Tasmania – right in the middle of Bass Strait. And mark our words, the golf courses are just as good, if not better than the famous King Island cheese.

Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham have just opened their doors this past weekend and I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of both courses a few weeks ago as part of Golf Australia Magazine’s course ranking panel.

For a full feature and review of Cape Wickham, grab yourself a copy of the December issue of Golf Australia magazine (out November 26) and make sure you look out for the January issue that will feature the 2016 Top-100 Australian golf courses – I’m predicting Cape Wickham will feature high on the list somewhere.
With just the 9-holes open Ocean Dunes won’t be included in the rankings this time around.

In the meantime, here are my first thoughts after playing both courses – and while it’s tempting (and obvious) to compare them to each other (and to the courses at Barnbougle), I’ll resist for the time being.

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Cape Wickham Golf Course sits on the northern cape of King Island, about a 45 minute drive from the newly refurbished airport. The golf course was designed by American golf architect Mike DeVries with local support from Planet Golf‘s Darius Oliver and they’ve done a superb job of letting the landscape do the talking.

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The fabulous opening tee shot at Cape Wickham.

The golf course is naturally set around the spectacular dunes and rocky coastline. The majority of holes occupying land next to the ocean and Australia’s tallest lighthouse is in sight on many holes.

Generous fairways will ensure the full spectrum of golfers will enjoy their golf at Cape Wickham, with several (sometimes more) options available to get your ball close to the hole as you near the green. The greens played very true and at a perfect speed for links golf on such an exposed piece of land.

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The par-3 11th hole at Cape Wickham requires a short iron over a rocky cove.

There is no doubt that there are some impressive looking holes at Cape Wickham; the 9th – 12th hole stretch is stunning (not to mention the 1st, 6th and 18th). But its excellence lies in the fun of trying to get your golf ball in the hole. There are a multitude of ways to do it at Cape Wickham, and it’s up to you to choose the best option for your game.

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View from behind the 1st green at Cape Wickham looking back towards Australia’s tallest lighthouse.

Ocean Dunes King Island is on the west coast of King Island, just a short drive from the airport and the main town on the island, Currie. Designed by Graeme Grant, the front nine are now open to play with the full 18 holes to open in the coming months.

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The incredible par-3 4th hole at Ocean Dunes. Not for the faint-hearted.

If the front nine was anything to go by Ocean Dunes is going to be a thrilling golf course to play. The place has a big feel about it. Holes snake their way up, down and around huge dunes offering dramatic golf shots and incredible views out to the ocean.

Highlights include the short par-4 2nd hole that finishes with a second green complex that may offer a new meaning to the term ‘tucked-pin’, the mind (and wind) blowing par-3 4th and the double-fairwayed, downhill par-4 6th hole.

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A rolling fairway and huge bunker greets golfers at the first hole at Ocean Dunes.

Our biggest concern before the trip to King Island was whether enough golfers would be keen to make the trip more than once to play golf in such a remote location. But after seeing the golf courses it’s obvious this won’t be an issue with both golf courses far exceeding my expectations. They will take their place high among Australia’s best golf courses in the coming years.

Golfers will be itching to get back to play and get stuck into the ‘which course do you like better?’ debate. I can’t recommend enough a golf trip to King Island. Get over there and find out which one is your favourite as soon as you can.

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The view down towards the as yet unopened 10th hole at Ocean Dunes.

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