Situated in the far north of King Island, approximately a 45-minute drive from the airport lies Cape Wickham Links. As you pass the Cape Wickham lighthouse (the tallest in the Southern hemisphere) and enter the unpretentious property down a stony track, the golf course gradually unveils its splendour to you as if rewarding you for making the effort to visit. By the time you get out of the vehicle your jaw will be on the floor. For the rest of your day, the smile will not leave your face.
Golf travel is about making memories and Cape Wickham delivers 18 holes full of them.
The golf course itself thrills and then immediately demands attention in quick succession and equal measure. Although every shot, hole and backdrop will have you reaching for the camera, the course is far from ‘all show’. Indeed, it is a few of the necessary inland holes that might be among Cape Wickham’s best (#8, #9 and #14).
And then there’s hole #18. You’ll see the photos everywhere for evermore but take it from The Golf Travel Agency team – nothing can prepare you for standing on a tee that forces you to carry your ball over the crescent beach of Victoria Cove. But if you fail this unique test (or just for fun, as most do) you can walk down the steps from the fairway and play your second as it lies on the beach!
Another Cape Wickham and King Island memory made. By the time you’re looking through your camera roll post-round, surveying the scene and sharing stories with a drink in hand, you’ll have planned your next golf adventure to this remarkable course and island.
If you thought the beauty of Barnbougle was remote but well worth the trek – welcome to a new level of golf adventure – King Island. Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham are links-style, clifftop then oceanside then dunescape golf courses that define ‘spectacular’. They have created their own category of course design that has no precedent in Australia.
Ocean Dunes is located 5 mins from both King Island’s main town of Currie and its Airport, but from the moment you get out of the car in the carpark you will feel about 5 years from life’s distractions – so pure is this course’s scenery and set-up.
This is challenging golf in every way. Choose your set of tees wisely and consider the elements of the day when doing so – this course has no respect for ego.
From the 500m opening hole where a colossal bunker must be navigated to reach a green that is set against the backdrop of the roaring Bass Strait to the heroic amphitheater that is the 18th green, Ocean Dunes is relentless in its visual spectacle and what Graeme Grant and his team has delivered is an absolute triumph of modern links design principles. One of the ways they have achieved this is by creating or finding 18 cohesive green sites that are consistently large and undulating and therefore offer an embarrassment of pin positions which can change entirely the way a hole might be best played.
It might be wrong to single out particular holes for praise, but for the team at The Golf Travel Agency, it is the quartet of Par 3s and the finishing holes that stand out. Each Par 3 is breathtaking, be it the carry demanded (#4), the exquisite saddle green site (#8), the length and oceanside setting (#10) or the playfulness (#14). The closing 4 holes are all Par 4, but they increase in length and provide a stern test to finish the round in the great tradition of the best British and Irish links.
To have one piece of land on your Northeastern Tasmania farming property so perfectly suited to the creation of a magnificent golf links is fortunate. To have a second parcel of land arguably more dramatic than the first is truly golfing heaven-sent. The vision to create a links golf sanctuary unlike anything in the country was one man’s, but it was the artists behind Barnbougle Lost Farm, Coore and Crenshaw, that pulled off something special – a course determinedly different to the Dunes, yet no less stunning. The two courses complement each other perfectly, and it was the addition of Lost Farm in 2010 that made Barnbougle the must-play destination it is to golfers the world over today.
Lost Farm winds through dunes significantly steeper than those found next door at The Dunes, and its wide fairways are complemented by strategic rugged bunkering and beautifully positioned undulating greens, making it an exciting, but fair test for golfers of all abilities.
Lost Farm also has 20 holes, such was the design potential of the land. Hole 13a was designed as an extra hole, but was too good not to allow everyone to play it every day and Hole 19 provides the wager-deciding short hole that every course (and clubhouse) wished it possessed.
Lost Farm is less in-your-face intimidating and exacting than the Dunes but is no weaker a test. It’s generosity and subtleties mean it will grow on you more than its older sister and it certainly provides a more consistently enjoyable golfing experience.
Play them both, play them often, play them in varying conditions and at various times of the day – then (and only then) pick your favourite…then play them again and change your mind. The Dunes and Lost Farm golf courses at Barnbougle are both that good.
“Absolutely stunning. I think that this is not only one of Australia’s best, it is one of the best courses in the world, old or new.” Geoff Ogilvy
The Dunes course at Barnbougle on the Northeast coast of Tasmania is a pure links golf test of the highest order. Thrilling, exacting, memorable, fun – it is all these things, but in the best traditions of classic links golf it is also surprising, often magical and always good for the golfing soul. If that sounds a bit poetic, once you have walked from the 4th green to the 5th tee or taken a moment to sit on the bench at the back of the 15th tee – you’ll understand what was meant and you will forever love links golf.
The course, designed by Tom Doak and Mike Clayton, winds its way between coastal sand dunes reminiscent of the great Scottish and Irish links courses. The dunes shape the holes, shelter you from the elements and provide many of the elevation changes that make the course so visually spectacular.
Strategy and creativity are the currencies of this type of golf. Options abound on almost every shot, and the choice you make between bravery and safety will often determine your score, but never your enjoyment.
The beauty of the game of golf lies in its endless variety of challenges. Never is this statement truer than on a good links course where one day’s straightforward shot is the next day’s card-wrecker. And on a great links golf course such as Barnbougle Dunes that means you’ll be planning your return trip before putting out on the 18th.