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Review: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort offers an escape from the ordinary

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Viva Quivira!

One of the newer entries in the top-tier golf experiences available in Mexico is the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort. The Pacifica is located in Cabo San Lucas, home of whale watchers, sport fishermen and cruise ships (remember the Love Boat?). It’s designed to be an escape from the ordinary, and also an escape from the kiddies, as no one under 18 is allowed.

Perched alongside a pristine beach area only a couple of miles from the city center, The Pacifica is a destination that grabs you by the senses from the moment you step on to the property. The lobby is a stunner, a pristine wide-open space that is all cut flowers and an indoor fountain that mimics the Pacific Ocean beach in the distance. The rooms are just as impressive, with most having an ocean view. The private balcony on the Ocean View rooms are where you’ll want to begin and end your day, and as a taller-than-average person, I appreciated the king-size beds. After you drop off your bags, change into some swim gear and head down to the beach. It is a huge, pristine shore with plenty of activities if you feel like splashing around and shaded day beds loaded with comfy cushions if you want to just relax and soak up some sunshine. And while you are working on your tan don’t forget to have a one of their signature cocktails.

When you make your way to the golf course you’ll find it just as impressive as the hotel. Quivira Golf Club features a Jack Nicklaus design that has garnered multiple awards in its two short years.

“This is one of the great pieces of property in the world,” Nicklaus said. “We tried to create some excitement on the mountain and in the dunes, and I believe we’ve created a golf course that plays as spectacular as it looks. I’ve never seen any place that has three holes hanging out over the ocean like this golf course does. They are unbelievable. This is a diverse golf course with inland settings; its got desert, its got ocean, its got rocks. It has a little bit of everything.”

13-coastline-pan-aerial-quivira

Created as an exclusive amenity for hotel guests and residents of the rental properties, the 7,139-yard par-72 track offers a rigorous test for the better player but also features five sets of tees so that players of all skill levels have an opportunity enjoy it. Situated beside the clubhouse at Quivira is a top-quality practice facility right alongside the beach. The pro shop is well stocked with everything you need in equipment, apparel and accessories. And for those that don’t like to travel with clubs, the rentals brand new full sets of TaylorMade clubs.

Some courses say they are oceanfront if there are a couple of waves visible and you can vaguely smell seawater. Not so with Quivira. Seventeen of the holes have a view of the Pacific, with many of the holes running alongside the beach. Many of the tee shots are downhill drives from promontories with stunning ocean views. The course is platinum paspalum grass from tee to green, and it is meticulously maintained. The greens were rolling at about an 11 on the stimpmeter, and the rough was high enough to present a challenge for a missed fairway, but since it’s a resort course, it was short enough to allow golfers to hit a shot and keep moving.

The course’s first four holes are appealing, but not necessarily spectacular. But the show starts with the almost one-mile ride up to the 5th tee, perched high atop the cliffs bordering the beach. There is a taco-and-tequila station on top of the hill, the first of the three luxurious rest stations on the course that offer a range of mouth-watering food and drink options. And if you don’t see something you like among the ceviche, shrimp tacos or braised pork sandwiches you can ask for what you like and they’ll have it waiting for you on the next station.

The Fire and Ice Martini Bar on No. 5.

The Fire and Ice Martini Bar on No. 5.

You might want to indulge in a little liquid courage before plying the difficult and controversial 5th, a 310-yard par four that requires two of the most intimidating blind shots most golfers will encounter. A hybrid or an iron to a narrow fairway is rewarded with an opportunity to try and hit a green that is invisible from the fairway. You basically aim at one of the whales swimming in the distance and swing away. My score over three days on that hole was 17 shots, if you include the ones that were in a glass with lime and salt. Love it or hate it, you’ll be talking about it for hours after the round.

If No. 5 is quirky then No. 6 is a classic beauty — a 180-yard par-3 carved out of the cliffs and overlooking the beach. In looks and difficulty, it is the match for anything you find at Pebble Beach. Another hole with story to tell is the massive 635-yard par-5 12th, which zig–zags downhill and finishes at the beach where the epic film “Troy” with Brad Pitt was filmed. You can still see some of the wooden stakes that formed the fortifications of the Trojan fortress, but if you get caught up in the sightseeing and miss the fairway, you’ll spend a lot more time on this hole than intended.

When you are done with your round you’ll need to wind down and recharge; take the opportunity to indulge yourself in the Pacifica Spa. Start with a steam, and sauna then a dip in the cold tubs. Follow that with a custom massage and a cup of herbal tea and you’ll be as relaxed as Fred Couples’ swing. The dining facilities are outstanding, featuring a wide variety of cuisines. Given the location, you’d be crazy not to try plenty of seafood and the variety of Mexican specialties on tap. And for tequila lovers, there are more options than you can shake a wedge at, including some rare options that will set your senses (and your wallet) on fire. You can finish the night with cocktails and cigars by an open fire or maybe a walk along the beach, depending on who you are with.

There are plenty of direct flights to Cabo San Lucas for those on the West Coast of the U.S., and East Coast travelers can get there with one stop. The best prices for flights are during the off-season, but even during the high season it’s resonably affordable. Nearby Cabo San Lucas is one of the best, most popular tourist destinations in North America. Whether you want to go whale and seal watching, shopping in the town center, or just lounging on the beach, there is something to fill your days. Be sure to stop by JJ’s Cigars, where they have an amazing selection of top-quality cigars kept in a huge walk-in humidor. And the nightlife is just as good, with dozens of bars and bars and clubs for cocktails, dancing, or whatever.

View of the Pacifica Hotel from its pool.

View of the Pacifica Hotel from its pool.

The Pacifica is a luxury facility and prices reflect that. However, the resort offers a truly exceptional experience that is worth every penny. The best way to go is an all-inclusive package that includes golf, lodging and meals. And if you want to go off-campus with the all-inclusive deal you will be given a wristband that extends your privileges to any of the Pueblo Bonito facilities in Puerto Vallarta. Have dinner at least one night at the Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos. You can catch a gentle breeze while noshing on steak carbon tacos and looking at sunset over the beautiful harbor. And for the frugal there are some great deals available during the shoulder seasons and for groups so smart shoppers can get paradise at a discount.

The Pacifica and Quivira Golf Club are one of the best new offerings I’ve seen for a long time. If you appreciate exceptional conditions on and off the course, this is the one for you.

Learn more at quiviragolfclub.com.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Chris N

    Sep 8, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    1. You can play if you stay at any of the Pueblo Bonito resorts. We stayed at Sunset Beach, which is more family friendly/oriented than Pacifica.
    2. Do they still have a guy standing below the green on hole 5 on the ocean side tossing your balls back onto the green when you roll/bounce off the back side? I freaked out when, as I was walking towards the hole, my ball suddenly popped back on to the green from the far side. He said he was there to keep golfers from trying to retrieve their balls on the steep cliffs that surround the green.
    3. There is a refreshment stand between 8 and 9 built in an old bunker. They see you teeing off on 8 and start cooking. By the time you get off the green, there are fresh tacos and an agua fresca waiting for you. For me, the comfort stations made the 5+ hour pace enjoyable.
    4. I walk whenever possible, but it would be impossible to create the views at Quivira if they had tried to make it walkable. You are on vacation, ride this one in the morning and walk another track in the afternoon.

  2. Dave Dudus

    Sep 5, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Better not hit an expensive ball on the 5th.

    • AllBOdoesisgolf

      Sep 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      yeah, because I worry about a $7 ball after spending a few thousand on a trip….

  3. Bag Chatter

    Sep 5, 2016 at 8:45 am

    So lets go through this again. . . You take an “almost one-mile ride up to the 5th tee” in order to play a hole where “A hybrid or an iron to a narrow fairway is rewarded with an opportunity to try and hit a green that is invisible from the fairway. (???) You basically aim at one of the whales swimming in the distance and swing away. (???)”

    • Balk

      Sep 5, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      It’s not golf when you can’t walk the place in less than 4.5 hours

  4. Brett

    Sep 5, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Just got back Friday from Cabo and played Quivira twice!! It was such a beautifully constructed course and I’ll definitely remember playing this course for the rest of my life. I even drove the 5th hole into the wind! Was an amazing feeling! The Cliffs Station is between 4 and 5 and offers a breathtaking view. Play it if you get the chance, you won’t regret it!

  5. Dr Troy

    Sep 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Beautiful course, BUT the pace of play is AWFUL… I played it in May and would rather play some of my other favorite tracks in Cabo over this.

  6. Pa

    Sep 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Yeah Donald Trump’s gonna love this place

  7. Eric Cartman

    Sep 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Casa Bonita, yeah!

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Courses

Ocean Dunes: Golfing in the Wild Waves

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On the last day on King Island, we were excited to see what its other golf course had to offer. While we first missed the small entrance to Ocean Dunes from the road, we finally got it right and approached the course on a small gravel road taking us up to the golf club parking.

When we walked from the car parking heading down to the temporary club house, we were facing large dunes and a beautiful big ocean. “What a site for a golf course!” That was our first impression. And after a quick look out on the short par-3 down below us, we knew that this would be a good day.

The iconic 4th hole. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Ocean Dunes opened in September 2016 and is designed by Graeme Grant. It’s actually for sale at the moment, and if I had the money I would honestly consider buying it. It’s currently ranked as the fourth best public golf course in Australia. We met one from the staff before our round, and she told us that Ocean Dunes is like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids. Although we haven’t reached Barnbougle yet, we immediately understood that this was a good thing.

No. 3, a tough par 4 (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

We later played 18 holes, and we were almost alone out on the course. I love that feeling when you’re able to play in your own pace and don’t have to wait. Just hit, look and plan for your next shot. It was a very windy day, and it wasn’t in the normal wind direction. A lot of our approach shots just wouldn’t stop on the firm greens.

Waves crashing in behind Johan. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

My highlight from Ocean Dunes was definitely the fourth hole, a lovely and beautiful par-3 where the big waves crashed in. It has a Cypress Point vibe about it. I also enjoyed playing the third hole, a long par-4 (425 meters) that runs just next to the ocean with a tricky fairway sloping down toward the ocean. It all ends with a very complex green. It’s a great challenge from the backtees.

Sunset highlighting the shapes of Ocean Dunes (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Overall, I would describe Ocean Dunes as a challenging, risk-reward course. It’s a bold and perfect complement to Cape Wickham Links on King Island. At Ocean Dunes, there are 17 holes with water views. All 18 holes have bent grass greens and a lot of variation. They’re highly memorable. We truly enjoyed our round and had a lot of fun. But if you’re able to visit King Island, it’s not fair not to treat yourself just to one course. You need to play both Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes.

The 7th green. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The next destination for us will be Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm in Tasmania. They’re two world-class courses that looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to get there and share our experience. We will also meet the owner himself, the potato farmer Richard Sattler. Don’t miss it!

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The Long and Winding Road to The Old Course

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St. Andrews holds a special and historic place in every golfer’s imagination. Anyone who has the faintest chance to play St. Andrews should do whatever it takes to get there. My journey to The Home of Golf was a circuitous one, filled with random twists and colorful characters along the way. It all started with a wedding. This is my story.

Palm Desert, California 2006. I was living the charmed and unglamorous life of a club professional. My soul was slowly being crushed by too many Couples Twilights and Ladies’ Guest Days. The love I once had for the game was waning and I needed something authentic to rekindle the passion. One day my friend Aaron called from Minneapolis with some exciting news: “Dude, my cousin Paul is getting married in a castle in England next month and we…” I cut him off with a quickness. “Forget the castle. We have to go play St. Andrews.” My response didn’t surprise Aaron one bit. His mind was already heading in the same direction, and he knew what I was going to say before he picked up the phone. We started forging a plan for the trip.

Aaron and I were both fairly seasoned travelers, but we weren’t without our limitations. There were family and work obligations to consider, as well as Aaron’s recently rebuilt knee. He was going to be a game-time decision for every round. I’m not saying Aaron is Brett Favre, but he’s a pretty tough guy so I felt good about our chances.

Our limited itinerary called for a Friday arrival, a Saturday groom’s dinner and a Sunday night wedding — all in the company of the wildly entertaining Reid and McIllrick clans. After that, if we survived, there would be golf: Monday at 7 a.m. on the Old Course, Tuesday at Carnoustie and Wednesday’s game at Loch Lomond before heading home. The difficult feat was going to be leaving from the wedding on the outskirts of Leeds, England around midnight and getting to the first tee at St. Andrews by 7 a.m. the next morning. Make no mistake; this was going to be intricate work.

You should know a little bit about the cousin/groom Paul Reid. A successful aviation executive and a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, he is perhaps best known for being the older brother of former Hibernian Football Club Goalkeeper Chris Reid. As teenagers the Reid brothers would visit their Minnesota cousins, and we all became fast friends. Paul and his bride-to-be Kay didn’t actually invite me to their wedding, but they knew I was coming as a guest; albeit a guest with ulterior motives.

We landed in Glasgow and drove to York, England (mistake) to meet up with the rest of the wedding party. The first two days was a boisterous blur of pints and greasy fish ‘n’ chips. I don’t remember much, but I do recall a few things; most notably, the groom’s dinner that featured a James Bond soundtrack. Not James Brown: James Bond. I’m a pretty solid dancer, but there’s only so much you can do with “A View to a Kill.” But it’s the groom’s night; if it’s Duran Duran he wants, then it’s Duran Duran he’ll get.

When Paul and Kay’s wedding finally came, it was a beautiful and lavish affair. Truth be told, I couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. When the clock struck midnight, Aaron and I hit the road. We were stone-cold sober and in front of us lay a cold, wet, five-hour drive through the dark Northern night. There was no place else in the universe I would have rather been.

The road less traveled

It didn’t take long for doubt to start creeping in. Keep in mind, back in 2006 the car rental GPS systems were suspect. We were rolling through the rural countryside with MapQuest print-outs on the left side of the road in the driving rain. And don’t forget we were powering through a 3-day hangover fueled solely by adrenaline. This was nothing short of a herculean challenge.

Every good road trip has a soundtrack, right? Somehow, somehow, the only CD we had was by a band called Granddaddy. “Rear View Mirror” was their only jam. Late night/early morning Scottish radio offered little relief as “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was on every time we sought refuge on the FM dial. There was no Belle and Sebastian, no Big Country, no Simple Minds (thank God) and not even Teenage Fan Club. Just Gnarls Barkley every single time. I’m not making this up.

Three hours into our journey, we were starting to fade hard. Luckily, we came across a roundabout that had a 24-hour gas station/convenience store. Stepping out of the car I realized that what I thought was a light drizzle was actually rain. It wasn’t enough to keep you from playing golf, but it was a legitimate stop-a-Little-League-game type of rain. And it was cold. I bought a few extra-large coffees that tasted about as bad as you would expect rural Scottish gas station coffee to taste at 3 a.m. and headed back to the car.

Then it happened. As I hastily scrambled to get back into the car and away from the freezing rain, I fumbled the coffee. Not in the parking lot, not the side of the car, not even in the floor of the car. I ham-fisted all 32 ounces of java directly into Aaron’s lap. Talk about furious. Aaron was sleep deprived, had a right knee as swollen as Frank Gore’s and was freshly soaked with a gallon of lukewarm coffee. To rub salt on the wound, the only MapQuest sheet that we needed was also ruined. We would have to make the last two hours to the Old Course on feel, and I wasn’t sure our friendship would last that long.

We found our way to town around 5:30 a.m. We had rented a few rooms in a house about 10 minutes from the course and the plan was to change clothes and go play. The schedule was all working out, but the weather wasn’t. It was still raining, windy and maybe 40 degrees. But we changed and headed to the Old Course, hoping at least one of the elements would relent.

It’s not easy getting the 7 a.m. tee time at The Old Course. As the saying goes, “It’s who you know that counts,” and a friend of mine who was a member of an exclusive club that somewhat guarantees members tee times at courses all over the world had set it up for us. I had no confirmation or booking number — just an email from my friend telling me to be at the first tee by 6:45 a.m. If you knew this guy, you’d realize this wasn’t as risky as it sounds. So as we parked the car and started to walk to the historic first tee, only two things were going through my mind:

  1. It is still lightly raining, windy and cold
  2. Considering it’s 6:45 a.m., there are a lot of people here

As we approach the first tee and the Ellis Island-like crowd that surrounded it, the sense of place really started to sink in. Then suddenly, like Moses parting the Red Sea, two men split the crowd and walked toward us.

“The professionals from California, I assume?” said the shorter dark-haired fellow named Robert.

“Yes sir,” I replied.

We stumbled through introductions and Robert went on to say that everything had been handled. There would be no need to pay for anything. Then he asked if we’d take a few singles to play along in our tee time. We happily agreed.

As I went to put my peg in the ground, I could hear whispers from the de facto gallery: “Look! He’s the pro from California!” I wanted to turn and tell them, “No! Look away! I’m just a hack club professional and I haven’t slept in two days! Look away!

Instead, feeling every ounce of the onlooker’s expectations, I pulled driver because it had the greatest chance of getting airborne. I swung as hard as I could and snap-hooked a line drive about 230 yards (85 yards of carry) into the 18th fairway. I was strangely content with the result. Just as we were about to walk off the tee, Robert approached and we shook hands as if to say thanks and good bye. He suddenly pulled me in closely and whispered, “At the conclusion of your round, there will be a silver Range Rover parked behind the green. Get in that vehicle.” Then he just turned and left. It was weird. The whole thing felt very covert. There was something about Robert and his sidekick that had my radar up. I wondered if the James Bond soundtrack from the groom’s dinner was a premonition of things to come.

We were paired with an Englishman who was a very solid player and another man from Houston, Texas, who was far less capable. The Texan, as we came to know him, probably shot over 150. To call him eccentric would be a gross understatement; he made Bill Murray look like Tom Kite. He sported a big, bushy gray beard and a flannel button-down shirt. The only thing guarding him from the elements was a picnic blanket he wrapped around his husky frame. My guess is he slept on that same blanket the night before, probably on the first tee. Whether The Texan was entirely there mentally was a topic of hot debate. “Nice shot,” I untruthfully said to him once. He looked back at me (through me?) for about 10 seconds before uttering, “They all are.” Curious words for a man who just shot about 150.

People will often tell you how great the caddies are at The Old Course, but they didn’t have my man Stevie. Again and again, I asked Stevie not to read the greens for me because I wanted to figure them out myself. I also asked him not to club me, but rather to just give me yardages. As we approached the 10th green, I was pleading: “Stevie… please, for the last time, please don’t give me a read unless I ask for it, OK? I really want to read the greens myself.” His reply: “You got it, sir. Sorry, sir… You got it.. This one’s right to left, sir. About half a foot.” He hands me a putter, walks away and grabs the pin.

By the time we reached the historic Road Hole, my relationship with Stevie (not his real name) was beyond frayed. A good drive left me in the middle of the fairway. I asked Stevie for a distance and he clubbed me. “Just the raw distance, please, Stevie.” He clubed me again. And then again. I asked one more time and he finally relented. I took 8-iron — one more club than Stevie recommended — and hit it pure leaving a ball mark about five feet past a middle pin. The problem was the ball ended up well over the green on gravel. Triple-bogey seven. Stevie was right. The shot called for a 9-iron hit short and right of the sucker’s line I had played.

As we reached the 18th green, we all shook hands and gave our thanks, good lucks and goodbyes. I embraced Stevie as if asking for his forgiveness. I looked up and there it was, the silver Range Rover. Robert and his accomplice jogged out to meet us, grabbed our bags and loaded them in the back. “Off to the castle for lunch now,” Robert said. It was not a request, but a requirement. Our golf bags were like hostages so we followed orders.

The Mysterious Castle

Again, we didn’t know these guys from Adam and the whole scene was just a little north of uncomfortable. Defenses were slightly up. I knew Robert and his cohort wanted something from us, but I wasn’t sure what. Robert told us we were about five miles away from “the castle” where we could “have lunch and discuss a proposition.” When we got there, it was more clubhouse than castle. There was a garden, a pool and stables. It reminded me of an Oasis video. I was half-expecting Liam Gallagher to be passed out on a billiards table in the parlor.

As it turns out, Robert was just trying to sell us memberships into the club, which would be like joining all of the world’s finest clubs. It would guarantee us tee times “anywhere but Augusta National” as Robert reiterated half a dozen times. Instead of calling him to the carpet on the false promise of global tee times, I explained that I wasn’t in the market to join any club and thanked him for his hospitality. After a nice lunch and few beers, they drove us back to our car.

Aaron and I hadn’t slept in well over 24 hours and we were spent. We had plenty of daylight to play more golf, but we just didn’t have the energy. Kingsbarn, The Jubilee, maybe even a replay of The Old Course; it was all right there in front of us. But instead we went back to our rooms to warm up, dry up and rest; a decision I’ve regretted ever since.

After recharging, we dragged ourselves back into town and drank half a dozen pints as we recounted the day. There were so many surreal quirks that we had to take a mental inventory. Was that the hardest five-hour drive ever? Did we almost crash into a few roundabouts? How horrible does a lap full of coffee feel at 3:30 a.m.? Did that scene at the first tee really happen? Is The Texan is still alive? Was he even real? Was being shuttled away from The Old Course by strangers in a silver Range Rover to a castle for lunch with two kind of strange guys we didn’t know the most James Bond move ever… or the least James Bond move ever? Who knows.

But I know one thing: I’ll be back at St. Andrews someday, hopefully with my daughter if she chooses to play. I’ll show her where my smother-hook on the opening hole ended up. We’ll laugh at stories about The Texan. Maybe I’ll birdie the 18th again. As we’re standing on the green hugging, I’ll pull her close and whisper: “If you see a silver Range Rover behind the green, don’t get in. They’re just trying to sell you something.”

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Cape Wickham Links: The Treasure of King Island

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After catching an early morning flight from Auckland, we did a short stop in Melbourne before our flight down to King Island. In Melbourne, we had to store almost half of our luggage in a storage locker so we could fit into a significantly smaller plane taking us further down south to King Island and Cape Wickham Links.

Cape Wickham Links was finished late in 2015 by American golf architect Mike DeVries and Australian golf writer Darius Oliver. It was ranked the 24th greatest golf course in the world by Golf Digest (U.S.) in 2016. As a newcomer, it’s very rare to receive a ranking that high, and the course was one of the real highlights in our golf trip.

12th hole. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

When we later flew in over King Island in that small plane I could almost hear the Indiana Jones theme buzzing in my head as we approached that short airstrip and prepared for landing. The airport at King Island is very small, as you would expect, but everything worked out smoothly and we got our golf clubs from the plane directly. A gold Nissan X-Trail then carried us forward on some bumpy roads before we finally reached the northwest tip of the island and Cape Wickham Links.

Hole No. 1 (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

King Island is a fairly small island with roughly 1600 inhabitants. I found it to be very charming and friendly, and I strongly believe King Island soon will be on every golfer’s bucket list. It has two excellent courses, the other being Ocean Dunes.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The first thing we saw when we approached Cape Wickham was the majestic lighthouse, which is also the tallest lighthouse on any golf course in the world. This lighthouse from 1861 serves as an icon for Cape Wickham, and it can be spotted from most of the holes throughout the course.

Since I am a big fan of courses positioned on remote locations and always speak highly of the road less traveled, I really wanted to play and experience this golf course. We were fortunate to play it twice. It has so many key features, thrilling challenges and interesting twists. As a golf course photographer, it was also dream to capture through the lens.

Locals can often be spotted out on the course (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Cape Wickham Links delivers some truly fantastic holes on a beautiful location along the Bass Strait, a stretch of the Australian Seacoast that once shipwrecked many voyages. It’s not a secret that the weather can often be quite challenging, but don’t let that fact scare you off. You need to try this world-class course, as it’s one of the best golf experiences you can find anywhere.

Your round of golf starts out with a big bang as you hit your first tee shot from a tee box flirting with the ocean. It’s one of the most scenic opening holes I’ve ever came across. Just look at the view.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The routing is also brilliant, starting first along big rocks. It lets you hit your golf ball just next to the roaring coastline where the wind usually plays a big role. Then you are moving more inland at the 6th before returning to the ocean edge at the downhill 10th. After you’ve hit some tough shots among the large dunes, you will ultimately face an incredible finish with Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17 and foremost the 18th curving beautifully along Victoria Cove beach. If this does not entertain you, I don’t know what will.

The 18th hole from above. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

I also had a quick little chat with one of the designers of the course, Darius Oliver.

“The golf course routing takes you to all points of the compass,” Oliver said. “The four par-5s play four different directions, and the grass is wall-to-wall fescue on greens, fairways and tees so it’s easy to maintain the traditional links surfaces. In fact, we only have a Super and five staff down at Wickham, and they do a wonderful job. There are more than 30 hectares of turf to maintain, so twice the average area of a Melbourne Sandbelt course, and the annual maintenance costs are half the Melbourne Sandbelt. We always wanted it to be easy to keep and sustainable, which we think has been achieved.”

The 15th green in front of the lighthouse. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

During our conversation, Oliver also pointed out that it was very important to create a world-class course that people would like to return to since it’s very remote. And looking at at it, I can only say they’ve been successful so far. We have also to keep in mind that this course is still very young and will most certainly evolve over time.

A important thing to remember while you are playing Cape Wickham Links is that in most cases you should not try to go for the pin… and if you do you will probably end up long and off the green. The best thing to do is calculate your bounces landing short in front of the firm greens and use all of your imagination and creativity to master the tricky slopes. Sometimes you will need to aim left or right to let the ball bounce onto the green. That’s why I recommend you to play it at least twice so you can study and learn the course properly.

The 17th green, followed by the 18th hole that wraps around Victoria Cove (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Both my friend Johan and I lost a lot of golf balls during our first round when we were struggling hard in the wind and figuring out how we should play the course correctly. Johan even ended up hitting a ball into the WC at the 9th! Despite our bad golf, we still adored the course. It’s a true masterpiece that clearly brings something new and fresh. We would definitely like to visit again… and again.

Up next: Ocean Dunes on our very last day at King Island. A course that is rumored to look like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids.

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19th Hole

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