It’s been said that golfers are like surfers, willing to go anywhere in search of perfection. Australia’s King Island is already renowned for its waves; when Cape Wickham Links opens in October, it will gain golf fame, as well.
Sited on a duney headland jutting into Bass Strait, the course occupies a spot made for links golf. “It’s the most unique and diverse site I’ve ever seen for golf,” says American designer Mike DeVries. “Most seaside courses have a consistent sort of shoreline—rocky cliffs or low-level dunes. We got everything here, from cliff-top holes to tees on the rocks in the water with waves washing below you to sandy beach.”
The biggest problem for DeVries and his co-designer, Australian golf writer Darius Oliver, who helped develop the project, was not overwhelming players. They wanted to create a rhythm and flow, an intimate journey through the landscape. Still, it’s hard to stand on any hole and not be blown away—which has nothing to do with the winds and clear air coming up from Antarctica.
Actually, the wind can blow from any direction, so the routing hits all points on the compass. The bouncy, all-fescue course—meant to be walked, with greens rolling into tees—is comprised of three basic loops. The first three holes hug the coast before the long par-four 4th—its tee practically in the ocean, the 157-foot Cape Wickham lighthouse (Australia’s tallest) as the aiming point—turns back inland. Holes 6 to 9 play among dunes, then the course returns to the ocean at the short par-four 10th in spectacular fashion, the beach-sited green backed by curling waves.
The final five-hole loop returns to the water. The dramatic par-four 16th hugs the rocky shoreline, while the dogleg-right, par-four 18th runs along Victoria Cove, the beach coming into play on both the drive and approach.
King Island is only a 40-minute flight from Melbourne, so if you’ve been dreaming of a trip to Australia’s great Sandbelt courses, Cape Wickham, which will offer on-site lodging in January, is one more perfect reason to go.
King Island, Australia
Year Opened 2015
Architect Mike DeVries