Ocean Dunes Golf Course

Australia, Tasmania, North Tasmania, King Island
6.8 (13)
Designer: Graeme Grant
Course Opened: 2016

From virtual anonymity to the toast of the golfing world, the small Bass Strait landmass known as King Island arrived in 2015 on the global stage with the launch of the mighty Cape Wickham Links on its northern coastline. That event was followed the very next year by the opening of Ocean Dunes, further south and close to the main island town of Currie. Designed and developed by Graeme Grant, Ocean Dunes is a stirring golf experience pressed partly against the island’s rugged western coast.

This project was a labor of love for Grant, who not only found the property but also moved to the island to supervise every aspect of its design, construction and grow-in. Interestingly, years earlier he had fallen in love with the Cape Wickham site and narrowly missed out on completing its purchase. So impressed was he with the potential of the island for golf, that he sought the next available parcel of seaside land to build his dream links. That site ended up becoming Ocean Dunes, and is attractively wedged between the ocean and a trickling stream known as the Three Rivers Creek.

From an elevated central clubhouse location, the two nines at Ocean Dunes unfold to both the north and south and start directly along the water. The first hole is a powerful but unusual 90-degree dogleg par five that turns aggressively toward the ocean and a green set before the waves. The short four, long four, short three sequence of holes that follow are also set against the coastline and memorable for the views and the challenge of trying to hit and then hold the postage-stamp sized 4th green, placed precariously between the rocks and the ocean.

The back nine similarly starts with a couple of water holes, the 10th a long Redan-esque par three over a rocky cove and the 11th a split fairway hole with an infinity backdrop. Oddly, the 11th is followed by a lengthy walk directly along the coastline, and a series of awkward inland holes. The 12th and 15th share a cute double green, and the 14th is a glamorous drop-kick par three, but the golf seems compromised by an absolute desire to include both features in the final routing. The 18th is also an uncomfortable closing hole, with its split fairway, steep rise and western orientation. Better is the strong par four 16th, which also heads west but gently falls and follows Three Rivers down toward the ocean.

Given its King Island location and dramatic views and coastal proximity, comparisons to Cape Wickham seem inevitable here. The truth is that the courses are very different. Ocean Dunes is longer, narrower and more difficult than Cape Wickham, and the routing less intimate. For all but the fittest of golfers the layout is extremely difficult to walk. This is partly because of a large ridge that separates the coastal areas from the inland valleys, but also some tricky transitions between holes. The coastline itself is less jagged and irregular than Wickham’s, but on the positive side there are a couple of holes where golfers get the chance to hit directly across the ocean, something rare for modern development. There are also a handful of nice dell green sites that appear to have designed themselves.

Prior to branching out into design, Graeme Grant was one of Australia’s leading superintendents and one would expect his fescue fairways and bentgrass greens to be maintained in top condition. Ocean Dunes may not have as many knockout holes as Cape Wickham, but as a compliment to the golf available elsewhere on the island, and given the immediacy of both the airport and main town, it’s an attractive golfing option and sure to win plenty of admirers.


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