When it’s all said and done Sam Atkins, the developer of The Cliffs, Kangaroo Island (http://www.thecliffs.com.au/) will have quite a story to tell. For many years the dream of a top golf course on Kangaroo Island has been bandied about and now one truly will be built... on a pristine island roughly 8 miles to the south of Australia’s mainland!
This blog post is a high-level summary of the project, and we are so pleased to report that the good people who believed in this special project have persevered. Thank you!
If all goes according to plan Cliffs, Kangaroo Island will open for the 2023-24 golfing season.
The Cliffs will be located on “KI” near the town of American River, which was named by American sealers in the early 1800s. As you can see from these pictures, the course will sit on rolling sand dunes and have long coastal vistas. The nasty Lycium will need to be removed prior to grassing the course... not a project for the faint-hearted!
Although Kangaroo Island is only short flight from Adelaide its rough beauty makes this location seem a world away. After-all, it was not until the late 1960s that electricity was permanently brought to the town.
Aside from being the future home of a top golf course, the island is famous for its nature reserves and native wildlife like kangaroos, koalas. Golfers may expect a backdrop of sea lions and a wide range of birds playing in and above the breaking surf.
A project which celebrates the beauty of this part of the world is exciting in itself, but one that takes full advantage of a 600-acre parcel of oceanfront land is really a gift not easily found elsewhere in the world. When was the last time a piece of land was available in the United States to build such a sea-side course? Bandon Dunes?
Design for the Cliffs is led by the same team which brought us the spectacular Cape Wickham Links (King Island). Architect Darius Oliver and team certainly have proven that they can take full advantage of an incredible piece of property. The Cliffs will be set atop 80-foot cliffs which border the same Southern Ocean as his existing masterpiece. A collaborative effort between teams from New Zealand and Australia provided recommendations for how to safely extend holes so they play out and above the faces of the cliffs.
Rumors are that seven holes will run alongside the edge of the cliffs, but it will be interesting to see how the inland holes are sculpted. In our opinion, while cliffs provide great views, the holes with more real estate provide an architect with options for green placement and interesting approaches. This is where Cliffs will likely further separate itself from other designs.
Overcoming Obstacles Unlike Any Other
While we have no idea as to how many tacks this project has taken since its inception we do know it has been many years in the making. Aside from obtaining funding, navigating environmental concerns, and addressing local and government logistics other obstacles included combatting a natural disaster and a global pandemic! Infrastructure improvements have been made to support the course and make visiting Kangaroo Island more comfortable:
In 2018 the Kangaroo Island airport received a substantial upgrade. Improvements to the runway, taxiway and lighting allowed direct access to longer routes. A new check-in area, lounge and retail shops improved amenities. Flights to KI will be available from not only Adelaide but Melbourne as well.
In 2020 almost half of Kangaroo Island was ravaged by bushfires. This sad disaster claimed so much, including the ultra-luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge (being rebuilt) and devastated wildlife. A reliable source of water was needed, not only for the course but to help combat future wildfires and provide drinking water for the people of Kangaroo Island. Happily this issue has been addressed via the construction of a new desalination plant which is slated to be operational by the end of the year.
In 2021 the Cliffs project secured a $50m AUD investment for the course buildout, construction of practice facilities, restaurant facilities and the clubroom. A 180-bed hotel with day spa and health club are all included in the plan. The the future an approved provision for residential housing will result in a homes which take advantage of the incredible views across the course and down coastline. Attention will be placed into building eco-friendly “pods” for accommodations after the initial course facilities are in place.
While it will be a little while before the course is complete we are so excited for the 2023/24 season. Combined with the Sandbelt, Barnbougle, Cape Wickham and then new build at 7-mile Beach... the future of Australian golf looks fantastic. That South Australia will have a world class golf course to accompany luxury accommodations and great ancillary activities is a true gift!
Interested in the latest or an Austrlian golf excursion of your own? Don't hesitate to reach out to a member of our team.
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