Sea Temple Golf & Country Club

The 8th hole at Sea Temple, Brendan James

Technological advancements in agronomy and construction equipment have opened up new frontiers and landscapes for golf course designers during the past 40 years. One course designer who has never shirked a tough assignment is Englishman Mike Wolveridge. Before forming his design partnership with Peter Thomson in the 1980s, Wolveridge had built a golf course on the side of a mountain in Japan. He’d created another in the crater of a dormant Indonesian volcano. He’d designed several on swampland throughout Asia. So turning 73 hectares of sugar cane plantation, just south of the resort town of Port Douglas, into Australia’s only tropical links layout was always going to be a snap.

The land where Sea Temple Golf & Country Club now lies – a short pitch from Four Mile Beach – had always been better suited to a golf course than to growing sugar. ‘We restored the land to small dunes and an open landscape, more akin to Scotland than the tropics,’ Wolveridge explains. ‘The seasonal winds here also offer the traditional challenge of a links.’

Sea Temple is a genuine links experience. The greens are firm and there is always at least a hint of breeze. The course is designed in such a way that you can roll a variety of chip shots on to Sea Temple’s greens without ever reaching for a lob wedge. The large, inviting putting surfaces are one of the starring features. They have improved markedly since being resurfaced with a locally bred bermuda grass called Novotec, a hardy grass that also provides a smooth-rolling surface for putting. But what really sets this links course apart from any other in the world is the rainforest cutting through the middle of the property – that and the signs, near several of the water hazards, warning golfers to beware of estuarine crocodiles.

A par-71 layout, it begins with an imposing par-four that stretches to 380 metres from the back markers. The prevailing breeze is into your face as you stand on the tee, where you can see the fairway wind right round a bunker, a pond and a clump of rainforest. The slightly elevated green is typical of Sea Temple, protected on most sides by hillocks and at least one bunker.

Another impressive design feature is the variety and challenge of the parthrees. These are four wonderfully individual holes. First comes the 147-metre 3rd, known as ‘Billabong’. Flanked by rainforest and a large pond to the left, your tee shot must sail over the edge of the water and on to a D-shaped green guarded by bunkers left, right and short. The best one-shotter can be found among the closing holes. ‘Eden’, the 171-metre 15th, is modelled on the famous 11th hole at the home of golf, St Andrews. It features a double green – shared with the par-four 10th – and the putting surface lies on a hill, exposed to the elements. As the sun sets behind the Great Dividing Range, a backdrop to the green, the five bunkers short of the putting surface fall into shadow and look like dark, deep pits of despair. Three holes later, walking away from the 18th green, there are few more inviting sights than the Queenslander style clubhouse, where you can sit on the wide verandah and contemplate the good and bad shots of your round.

Memorable holes

1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 15th and 18th

Where to go

Old Port Rd, Port Douglas, Queensland 4877

Book a round

(07) 4087 2222,

Where to stay

The adjoining Sea Temple Resort & Spa has five-star luxury rooms and apartments on a section of secluded Port Douglas beachfront.

Before/after your round

Port Douglas is a favourite gateway to the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Diving and snorkelling tours depart daily from the marina for the outer reef and low isles.

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