Welcome to Pacific Dunes



PAR 72


The sleepy Port Stephens town of Medowie received a wake-up call in 2005 when championship golf arrived in the shape of Pacific Dunes.

And whichever nine your round begins on, you’re in for an excursion highlighted by diversity. The front nine of the James Wilcher-designed layout wends its way through woodlands that make the playing arena feel enclosed and rewards accuracy over bravado. In contrast, the far more open back nine is spacious but water-laden, with hazards in play on near enough to every hole coming home. The opportunities for reward are frequent, accompanied by a commensurate level of risk. It is a formidable test, although one that is well worth relishing whatever your handicap level. From the correct set of tees, what unfolds over 18 holes at Pacific Dunes is an ebb-and-flow challenge that remains compelling throughout. Every department of the game is tested to its fullest in what is one of New South Wales’ finest public-access courses.

The great irony of the natural bush setting that greets visitors that it was in many respects a manufactured ecosystem to begin with. Nearly 14 years have passed since the course welcomed its first golfers and immediately announced itself as a layout of high regard. The distinctive nature of Pacific Dunes is that the front nine and back nines boast such markedly different scenery. As soon as you take a turn to the left after your drive at the 331-metre par 4 first hole, you are invited to step into an Aussie oasis. But that is hardly the setting that welcomed Wilcher in his initial site visits more than a decade ago.
“It was a semi-cleared, semi-rehabilitated, partially open paddock,” Wilcher recalls of his initial impressions. “It was a remediated old rutile mine and so they’d done a lot of planting of native species and we cut the fairways through that.”

But that’s not to say the course architect didn’t see great potential. He didn’t have wild dunes from which to bounce off, a clifftop vista on which to perch a green or elevated tees boasting views into the distance. But he was adamant he had enough of the characteristics shared by some of the best courses in the world to create something memorable.

“If you think of all the great golf courses in the world, do they have water? No,” Wilcher argues. “Do they have an ocean backdrop? No. Do they have a mountainous backdrop? No. What they have is an attractive, wonderfully simple landscape. We had an attractive, wonderfully simplistic landscape palate and backdrop to work with.

“From a design perspective, you obviously put in the golf element, and integrating the landscape palate into that was the most rewarding part of the project. I’d be lying to say there were obvious golf holes there at all. It was pretty much manufactured out of the swamp. What we were able to do was to harness the best of the vegetation. There were some really gorgeous old Angophoras around the place that we left. We tried to put greens in beside them and tees in beside them and the rest we really manufactured.”

For more information

Championship Drive, Medowie
Port Stephens, NSW 2318

Pacfic Dunes Photo Gallery