The Takeaway: While Cape Wickham dons the crown for King Island, Ocean Dunes is a spectacular silver medalist and pairs as one of the best 36 hole days available in the world. The course boasts a gorgeous oceanside setting, an exceptional collection of par threes, and engaging terrain to golf your ball on. A trip to Australia that doesn’t include King Island is simply foolish. Grade A+
Designer: Graeme Grant in 2017
Cost: $175 AUD - $230 AUD (Motorized cart is $50 AUD) Click for current rates
Phone Number: 61 3 6462 1633
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Ocean Dunes Golf Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 365 North Road, Loorana, Tasmania 7256 – AUSTRALIA
Accolades: Ranked 4th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Ocean Dunes is aptly named based on the characteristics of the course’s location among the windswept sand dunes along the western coast of King Island south of Melbourne. Designed by Graeme Grant, Ocean Dunes opened two years after Cape Wickham to create two of the best courses within 30 miles of each other in the world and perhaps the best 36 hole day in the Southern Hemisphere. The course opens with a fantastic par five characterized by a mammoth bunker on the inside of the dogleg before the hole tumbles downhill towards the ocean. The course never lets up, until perhaps the anti-climatic 18th, as the routing goes through a series of coastal and inland holes with the Bass Strait staying in view for the vast majority of the experience. The highlight of the course is the collection of par threes that rival any quartet of one-shotters on Mother Earth with a heavy dose of coastal visuals and undulated terrain that result in a variety of shots offered and skills needed to conquer. The course is kept in great condition and some golfers elect to walk the course while most will take a cart to help tackle the hilly layout. While Ocean Dunes may take flack the same way Cypress Point does with an 18th hole that is a letdown compared to the rest of the experience, don’t let that deter you from making Ocean Dunes a bucket list course to visit. In fact, any thought of going to King Island and skipping Ocean Dunes in favor of 36 holes at Cape Wickham is a grave mistake. While Wickham may reign supreme, Ocean Dunes is a fascinating layout with memorable holes, undulated terrain, and a spectacular setting that should not be missed.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 4th Hole – 143 Yard Par 3 – Stunning, gorgeous, breathtaking, beautiful, and any other inspiring adjective can be inserted here when describing the short 4th hole at Ocean Dunes. Playing over a small cove created in the rocky coastline, the tee shot here is all carry enroute to the green that features a bunker in the front center which effectively creates two lobes in the putting surface. The higher left portion is the safer part of the green to attack as there is room left and right to miss, however a pin position on the lower right side of the green should strike a little more fear in players as the rocky waters sit tight to the putting surface on that side. Inspiring and playable for virtually every level of golfer, the 4th hole at Ocean Dunes is a throwback tribute to early coastal one-shotters such as the 15th at Cypress Point and 7th at Pebble Beach.
Best Par 3: 10th Hole – 223 Yards – The par threes at Ocean Dunes are as good as anywhere in the world and the back nine starts with this challenging coastal hole. Set in the largest bay on the property, the tee shot features a heroic carry over the water to the wide but narrow greensite that is protected by two bunkers in front and three in the back. While the back tee requires the longest carry, the forward tee boxes angle off to the right so that the water becomes less of a factor from that angle. Just clearing the water isn't enough though as the grass in front of the green slopes away from the putting surface and is quick to deny shots that aren't given enough air time to reach the putting surface on the fly. Going long on the left side is a good miss as a backstop is there to help move balls back onto green, so everything in this design is begging you to take a club that flies the full distance to the flag. If the 4th hole is an ode to the 15th at Cypress Point, then the 10th tips its hat to the world renowned 16th at Cypress. Cape Wickham did a better overall job with the crescent bay portion of their property, but this is still a pretty darn good use of it.
Best Par 4: 3rd Hole – 477 Yards – The opening four hole stretch at Ocean Dunes is flat out incredible, and like Spyglass Hill, unloads its best holes at your right off which is incredible as an intro but takes away from a climatic finish that many courses go for. The 3rd is the most challenging hole on the opening stretch with 477 coastal yards to cover enroute to the green and just four strokes to get down for par. The fairway double in width 165 yards from the center of the green so if you can unload a big driver you will be rewarded with the maximum amount of forgiveness this hole offers, so there is little reason to hold back on the tee. The back tees are perched near the coast edge which gives players the ability to aim away from the water while the forward tee play more parallel to the Bass Strait. After safely navigating the tee shot, Graeme Grant is banking on you underestimating your approach shot as he placed four bunkers short of the green and left the back two-thirds unhindered. However, with salt water right as well as long, the approach shot here is one of the most challenging of the day to navigate. It doesn't take long to see how special Ocean Dunes is, and this hole is a contributor to why.
Best Par 5: 1st Hole – 539 Yards – Again like Spyglass Hill, Ocean Dunes starts with a big dogleg par five that tumbles off the hill and toward the ocean as one of the best starts to a golf course you'll ever discover. Unlike Spyglass though, this green is reachable in two for a high percentage of golfers with 60 less yards to cover enroute to the putting surface. The most obvious feature when standing on the tee is the behemoth bunker towering on the right side of the fairway and obstructing the view of the fairway beyond it. 225 yards of carry is plenty to fly this bunker if you want to cheat some yardage off, though staying a bit left of the bunker will help ensure the best angle and view for your second shot. About 170 yards from the green the fairway terminates for a 65 yard stretch and asks players to layup short of the junk or carry it with their second shot to set up a short chip. Two bunkers front the green while a third protects the right side, so if you can carry the two center bunkers then you'll have the most forgiveness depth and width wise and a chance to roll a birdie putt. This is a fantastic way to start your round and something that isn't done near often enough as many opening holes are forgettable way too soon.
Birdie Time: 2nd Hole – 302 Yard Par 4 – I couldn't get over how much I loved this hole! Few things are more enjoyable in golf than a good driveable par four and Ocean Dunes wastes no time give you its offering in this category. The view from the tee is already inspiring with waves crashing to your right and links land ahead of you begging to be challenged. Straight ahead and slightly favoring the left side, a 40 yard wide bunker commands your attention and rises above the surrounding terrain in an effort to create a wall that wants to thwart tee shots from reaching the green it is protecting. 260 yards of carry is necessary to carry the bunker and then you'll need a bit of extra distance to clear the natural grasses separating the bunker from the shallow green. It is a heroic, if not foolish, tee shot to consider; just the kind I love to roll the dice on. If you are feeling sheepish then a 220 yard tee shot to the right side of the fairway leaves you in the widest part of the fairway and with the optimal angle to go flag hunting. The oblong green sits in a natural bowl with four small bunkers lurking around its edges where so many different kicks and results can occur. I have a huge crush on this hole, even if the "Great Bunker of King Island" managed to deny my tee shot from reaching the green.
Bogey Beware: 16th Hole – 422 Yard Par 4 – A single bunker is all you'll find on the 16th because it is plenty tough without any additional trouble to consider. As tough as it can be at times to consider this strategy, take dead aim at that bunker on the left side of the fairway because you want nothing to do with the right side of this hole. Three Rivers Creek meanders the full length of the right side and the fairway tilts from left to right so ball that even flirt with the creek will likely find a watery demise. Getting off the box isn't enough though as the green features a huge spine in it that creates two distinct sections of putting surface to contend with; get on the wrong side, and a three putt is knocking at your door. Only the far left side of the green is in line with the fairway, the rest of the putting surface jets away towards Three Rivers Creek and creates an awkward angle of attack from any fairway position. For a hole that isn't overbearingly long, the 16th is a bogie making machine that is quick to put a lot bigger number on your scorecard if you treat it recklessly.