The Takeaway: One of the finest golf courses in the world and the most scenic track in the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Wickham is a brilliant collision of rugged coastline, windswept dunes, and unrestricted architectural design. It takes something exceptionally special to dethrone Royal Melbourne as Australia’s best course, but Cape Wickham manages to do it. Grade A+
Designer: Mike DeVries and Darius Oliver in 2015
Cost: $175 AUD - $230 AUD (Motorized cart is $50 AUD) Click for current rates
Phone Number: 61 3 6463 1200
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Cape Wickham Links's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Cape Wickham Rd, Wickham, Tasmania 7256 – AUSTRALIA
What to Expect: Cape Wickham is a game changer for Australia. While the Sandbelt of Melbourne has always had exceptional golf to offer, kangaroo country lacked the jaw dropping visuals other parts of the world offered on coastal tracks. Barnbougle broke the ice in that category and then Cape Wickham blew the doors off by creating one of the finest coastal links courses in the world. With the unveiling of Cape Wickham and fellow King Island beauty Ocean Dunes, the pairing of courses at Barnbougle, and the famed Melbourne Sandbelt, a glorious “Oz Tria” is created with an unparalleled triangle of golfing locations that I could happily live the rest of my life playing. How good is Cape Wickham? Well travelled golfers will tell you it could be the best course in the world, and certainly in the Southern Hemisphere. Designed by American architect Mike DeVries and Australian Planet Golf founder Darius Oliver in 2015, Wickham is a brilliant combination of links design, a gorgeous ocean setting, and perhaps the best opening and closing holes in golf. There is nothing pretentious about Cape Wickham. It has a modest clubhouse, clean accommodations, and has its sole focus on one thing; the golf. Cape Wickham reminds me of what it must have been like when Cypress Point and Ballybunion were built prior to heavy governmental restraints and a course architect could create the best possible hole designs with the only restriction being their own imagination. Ocean views are afforded from every spot on the golf course and gazing out across the Bass Strait never gets old. Holes 10 - 12 have adopted the nickname OMG corner due to the awe inspiring visuals that include an approach shot towards the water, a par three along the rocky coast, and a shortish par four that capes along the coastline to complete one of the finest three holes stretches you’ll find anywhere. Walking or riding in a cart are both options at Cape with patrons being issued a cart upon arrival to transport between the onsite accommodations and the clubhouse. On a side note, Cape Wickham sports a fantastic chef with impressive schooling and training which leads to top shelf meals being served up to visitors. There aren’t a ton of rounds plays at Cape Wickham, but as the word gets out about how great it is, there will be golfers from all over the world making a priority of visiting this pure golf experience; it is one of the best on Mother Earth.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 432 Yard Par 4 – In the discussion among the greatest finishing holes in golf, the 18th captivates you from the first moment you step on the property and are given a front row seat to its beauty and intrigue from the clubhouse. Similar to the 18th at Pebble Beach, though this hole plays shorter and bends the opposite direction, the finishing hole at Cape Wickham wraps around the bay in dramatic fashion as players decide how much of the hole to bite off with their tee shot. If you play too conservative with your line then you could go through the fairway into the junk beyond, however if your line is too bold you may never reach the fairway and end up finishing on the beach below. Alas, not all is lost though as the beach is in play here and creates perhaps the largest bunker on the planet. The fairway isn’t quite as large as you may hope, so having the beach as a buffer is a nice feature, but it goes without saying that pars are much more common from the short grass than the sand. The narrow green demands precision on the approach shot and utilizing the ground game isn’t a bad option as long as you avoid the small bunker short and left of the putting surface. This truly is a stunning hole and is easily the best closer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Best Par 3: 17th Hole – 179 Yards – The short coastal 11th is certainly worthy of being featured here as the only one-shotter in the famed OMG corner, but the 17th manages to trump it. A necklace of bunkers wraps around the right side of the green and forms a sandy chain that can be viewed as a hazard or as a safety net from the ocean crashing on the right. The safest play is to the front left portion of the green that stays short of the lone bunker on that side of the putting surface. Pin positions in the back third are particularly difficult to attack as it brings the water into play longer and there is a hump in the middle of the green to clear. This is a flat out gorgeous hole and an incredible pre-finisher.
Best Par 4: 1st Hole – 372 Yards – While many people will talk about the 18th perhaps being the best finishing hole in golf, it can be easy to overlook how good of an opener Cape Wickham begins with as well; certainly delivering the best book end holes I’ve ever encountered. Holes 16 and 17 work their way on the coastline towards the clubhouse and then the 18th comes the rest of the way before bending with the crescent shaped bay. The 1st hole carries on from the crescent and heads straight out of the bay towards the Bass Strait. A rocky coast frames the right side of the hole while gnarly grassed hillocks claim the left side. With so much trouble in view it can be an intimidating opening tee shot, but the fairway is more forgiving than meets the eye so swing away with confidence. A pot bunker resides short left of the green with a dual bunker resting at the back left, however the entrance to the putting surface is wide open and welcomes aerial and ground game shots alike. Beautiful yet welcoming; a perfect start to a near perfect golf course. As a side note, the coastal par four 16th is well worth featuring here and is the beginning of one of the finest three hole closing stretches on the planet.
Best Par 5: 9th Hole – 534 Yards – While it is easy to identify the stunning coastal holes as highlights at Cape Wickham, the best hole on the entire property is perhaps this inland gem with its creative design and compelling risk/reward engagement. The widest part of the fairway is 300 yards from the back tee so DeVries and Oliver are begging you to swing away on your driver and utilize the downhill terrain so that you are in position to make a critical decision; do I go for it or do I layup? A good drive will leave you 200 yards +/- to the front edge of the green which is fronted by a cavernous swell covered in thick, natural grasses and sandy waste areas. A baby draw into this green takes most of the trouble out of play as long as you don't chase your ball into one of the two rear bunkers or bury it in the face of the hillock bunker looming short right of the putting surface. Losing your ball to the left is a brutal result where you can find your ball sitting in a multitude of different types of lies; none of which are exciting. Laying up safely to the fat part of the fairway on the right side will leave you with a wedge shot into the green that needs to clear the hillock bunker which can obstruct the view of the flag depending on that day's pin position. This truly is a compelling hole with so many possible options, results, and fun to be had; which is exactly what great golf holes do.
Birdie Time: 10th Hole – 358 Yard Par 4 – Gorgeous and inviting, this short downhill par four is the perfect way to begin your back nine with confidence. The tee shot plays from an elevated tee straight down towards the Bass Strait with the cascading fairway rewarding the low spin drive that can gain yardage by tumbling down the slopes. The chip, or short wedge shot, into the green is mildly protected by a small bunker at the front right of the green where a bowl in the putting surface beyond exists. The vulnerable left side has a partially hidden bunker of little concern and then the green features a lower tier and upper tier with pin positions in the lower tier begging to be attacked with ultimate aggressiveness in order to yield an easy birdie. Gorgeous scenery, dramatic elevation change, and a great birdie opportunity; what more could you want to kick off the second nine?
Bogey Beware: 15th Hole – 582 Yard Par 5 – The longest hole on the course and the closest to the Cape Wickham Lighthouse, the 15th is the lengthy journey that leads players to the coast for the climactic finish. The tee shot features a mostly blind landing area but driving over the aiming bunker straight ahead is the perfect line to take for safety. On the second shot, the ideal play is to get as far down the fairway as possible while keeping it on the left side. The challenge however is that the fairway tilts left and can quickly skip balls into one of the five bunkers protecting that side of the hole. Bailing out to the right on the second shot results in a brutal third shot downhill towards the water to a green sloping away from you; a task that is daunting to execute well. With close proximity to the Bass Strait, winds off the sea are at their full strength and create an additional factor to contend with while trying to conquer this hole. Par fives are often birdie opportunities or easy pars, but here at the 15th there won’t be anything easy you deal with.