Within the warm waters of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef lies a series of tropical islands known as the Whitsundays. The largest inhabited island in the collection is Hamilton Island, also home to one of Australia’s finest coastal resorts and one of the world’s most beautiful modern golf courses.
Designed by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson and his partner Ross Perrett, the Hamilton Island golf course is actually located on neighboring Dent Island and only accessible from the main resort by ferry. The landmass that became this course is about as rugged and inhospitable a virgin site for golf as one could possibly conceive. Not only is the atoll small and mountainous, its rocky crust rises and falls with great vigor across a series of sharp ridges and deep vales.
As Dent Island lies within a World Heritage listed Marine Park, the restrictions on development were considerable. The design and construction teams had to treat issues of coral reef protection, flora and fauna preservation, tree clearing, erosion control, water management and drainage very seriously and in places arrange holes where the environmental impacts were reduced. The result, unfortunately, is a routing that is somewhat disjointed and features both dizzying elevation changes and obscenely tight landing areas.
On the positive side, are gorgeous 360-degree views out across the adjacent passages and toward the surrounding islands. A number of individual holes are also quite exhilarating, particularly the par threes and the finishing stretch from the 13th to 18th, which enjoy the finest views out toward the Coral Sea. The Whitsunday Islands are one of the genuine treasures of Australian tourism, and though the Hamilton Island course is far from perfect it’s a beautiful place to play and an unforgettable site to experience.
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