Sea-side locations often bring out the best in golf and Cape Wickham is no exception to the rule.
First opened to the public in October, 2016 the course was designed by American golf architect Mike De Vries and offers a world-class golf experience which is different- eschewing private membership, a year-long waiting list to play, and a jaw-dropping per-round price for great golf at a reasonable cost.
Playing alongside the crash of the ocean, there are few places in the world in which a golfer may "have it all" and a feeling as if the course was built for them alone. Yet this is exactly how one can feel when playing here. The roads on King Island are often gravel, and cows in pastures lazily graze on farms spotted with a few bent trees- low to the ground due to gales that come off of the water.
The course has been designed with the strength of the wind taken into account- wide landing areas and options for attacking holes allow players to strategically think their way around the course regardless of the wind direction. Fairway bunkers unreachable one day are surprisingly reachable during another round.
Location: Located in the heart of the Bass Straight, King Island is defined by its lighthouses and wind-swept landscape and Australia's largest lighthouse can be seen from multiple points on the course. It was built in the early 1860s and helped many ships navigate the Bass Straight. However, because this is smack in the "Roaring Forties" one should often expect westerly winds to play a large part in club selection. Playing golf here can feel secluded and like taking a step back in time.
Transportation: Rental car services are available on the island, however many will opt for car services to transport to/from the airport. Most of the rental cars on the island are standard transmission, and driving on the opposite side of the road from North America (combined with the need to navigate a stick while driving) often with deter the North American visitor from renting.
Whether teeing off from an island green and over tussock or playing an approach from literally on the beach, King Island is special. However, every rose has its thorn, and there are a few things to realize about this course's location:
- King Island is remote. Being physically removed from both mainland Australia and Tasmania the course has ruggedly beauty in spades. All 18 holes viewing over the Bass Straight. However, getting to this course takes flights and planning.
- The island's ever-changing weather can never be predicted and one should come prepared to play in wind, sun, and rain. If the weather does not cooperate, patience is required. The island only has about 2000 permanent residents so one should pack a good book if the fog or weather is not cooperating.
- News flash: There are snakes in Australia, and King Island has its fair share. Some of these snakes are large.
Despite being next to the water, where one would think land would be a premium, the landing spots for the course are actually wide and very forgiving for the higher handicap player. There are nine holes at Cape Wickham which touch the water, with three being par-3s. It's exciting and rewarding to take the wind into effect and score... and equally fun (secretly) to miss and dunk a ball into the sea.
As a links course there are not an over abundance of bunkers near the putting surface. The layout allows for a range of options from which one may attack the pin.