Ocean Dunes Golf Links on Tasmania’s King Island has suffered a timing setback and isn’t expected to open until mid-2015.
Director Graeme Grant, who is also spearheading the course’s design and grassing, has revealed slow progress over summer and autumn has forced him to abandon earlier hopes of opening the course by February 2015.
“That’s gone out to at least the middle of 2015,” Grant says.
“We need to aim at that for our own sake and the credibility of the whole job. We have to do this in the most economical way possible to make the business viable and, in a way, we’re building this at a wholesale rate.”
Ocean Dunes appears likely to open later than King Island’s other golf course under construction at Cape Wickham on the island’s northern coast.
At the time of writing, grass had been laid on at least 13 of Cape Wickham’s holes while Grant had only finished turfing Ocean Dunes’ first, second and fourth holes, which are all coastal.
“We’re working on the third hole, the last of the coastal holes, at the moment. Working on the coastal holes has been very time consuming. There’s only three of us operating machines but as soon as we move off that coastal area I’m sure that we can move a bit quicker because most of the ground’s already shaped.”
“We did get knocked around a lot by wind and we’ve had to resurrect a lot of the areas. We never had irrigation in the ground when we should have based on what we now know. Working in this climate’s been a really good learning experience for us and if we’re clever, we won’t be making the same mistake twice.”
Grant is optimistic that he will have the entire front nine and the 18th – an inland par-four – fully grassed by November.
“We don’t have a lot of earth to move on the inland holes,” he says.
Grant is still working to secure investment for the development, which stakeholders can buy at a cost of $100,000 per one per cent share.
“They’re not knocking the doors down to invest with us but we are getting investors at a rate that makes us comfortable. We haven’t got all the investors we need. We’ve got a substantial number.”
“The facts are that golf is not seen as a fantastic investment. It’s got a bad name because they cost so much to do and people wonder whether they’re going to get their money back. All our figures indicate you can make a very good return on your investment but that’s something for us to convince others of.”
Ocean Dunes’ hopes for further investment have been bolstered by the news that Greg Norman has visited King Island on multiple occasions to investigate the potential to develop a third course on the island.
“He’s been down a couple of times and whether he’s negotiating, we don’t know. He’s been involved in trying to get another course off the ground on the southern tip of the island and that’s something that we see as a good thing for us. Two golf courses make it a destination and three can make it even better.”