Originally published in InsideGolf, March 2016
After only three months of operations, Cape Wickham Links has already made a huge impact ranking 5th in Australia and 24th in the world.
Located on King Island, Cape Wickham was a project designed by internationally renowned golf course architect Mike DeVries, with assistance from Darius Oliver as developer and golf course owner Duncan Andrews. Due to the prior history of Turnpoint’s involvement in the project and their intimate knowledge of the site, Programmed Turnpoint was awarded with the construction of the course.
Construction was not an easy feat. It took an experienced and determined team with the right tools to tackle the challenge of constructing a golf course amongst one of the most rugged and isolated geographic environments in Australia.
Before any construction could take place, Programmed’s first challenge was the relocation of the native seabirds. Littered with 40,000 burrows, Cape Wickham is home to a colony of Short-tailed Shearwater. To minimise disruption to wildlife, Programmed staff manoeuvred through the uneven landscape to strip vegetation, clear any holes and relocate bird nests while the Shearwater were in winter migration.
Additionally, a crucial factor for any golf course is sufficient water supplies, and this presented a major challenge to this water scarce island. A dam was dug out as a temporary measure, with several locations sourced to supply the dam before an irrigation system was finally built and established. Once fully functional, major earthworks, shaping of the land and grassing could begin.
Working closely with the architectural team, Programmed’s expertise in golf course shaping and flexible approach resulted in the delivery of Cape Wickham’s ultimate shape. Despite the abnormally windy and wet winter conditions, the Programmed team showed great dedication and willpower, rebuilding green sites and fairways which were repeatedly blown or washed away.
Harsh elements of the seaside such as wind and salt spray meant careful water management was required for the seeded areas. In order to safeguard the grass, conditions were regularly reassessed and programs were readjusted. Buffeted by the same brutal climate conditions, staff showed constant care in keeping the grass wet, always moving sprinklers around to protect the germinated grass from drying out.
Another issue arising from the remoteness of King Island included the lack of skilled local labourers, limited resources and a weekly ferry as main mode of transport, which posed considerable logistical implications. Due to inadequate equipment on the island, a construction and building kit containing necessary equipment such as hyrdroseeders, rollers, mowers, dozers and excavators was freighted over.
Programmed ensured the right people were sourced for the project from their large pool of skilled staff in their own workforce. Most of the workers stayed on site and were present seven days a week for the entire duration of the project, only occasionally going home due to the site’s remoteness.
In spite of everything, the commitment and enthusiasm of the staff truly deserves recognition and praise. Envisioning a seamless integration of golf and nature, Programmed Turnpoint’s devoted staff and course construction skilfully guided by the design team laid the foundation that turned the dream of a world class golf course into a reality.