We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields
Three years ago a colleague at work told me about these two amazing golf courses his mate had just played. One was in New Zealand called Cape Kidnappers and the other in Tasmania which of course is Barnbougle. I looked up these courses on google and was blown away. This was the first step to reawaken the goals I had when younger to play great golf courses and the past weekend finally made the pilgrimage to one of these courses.
Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm are located in a spectacular location in Bridport which is a tiny village on Tasmania’s north shore. While fairly easy for me to get to in Melbourne, appreciate this is a different proposition if based outside of Oceania. It’s the equivalent of me visiting Highland Links in Nova Scotia but many still make the trip and with world class courses designs and vistas, it’s easy to see why. Now with Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes opening on King Island, there is even more reason to come out here.
The Barnbougle site was originally a potato farm owned by Richard Sattler. A golf enthusiast Greg Ramsey saw the vast potential in the site and worked with Sattler to develop a world class golf course. Tom Doak, the well renowned US architect was hired along with local architect Mike Clayton and the result was the Barnbougle Dunes golf course which opened for play in 2004. Doak was so eager to build the course that he arranged a long term payment plan for his services. The result has been a resounding success with luxurious accommodation located on site along with spa facilities, fine dining and of course now the secondary site at Lost Farm.
Onto the course, we were first off on Sunday morning with only the wallabies for company. Beautiful time of the day to play but there was little wind in fact bright blue skies mirroring our round at Lost Farm the previous day. Not sure Doak would be too happy about us chickening out and sidestepping the strong bass strait winds but I have my fill at the National! The two sets of nine are located on either side of the clubhouse so there is ample opportunity to sample stunning views of the Bass Strait and experience differing wind conditions. Before launching into a more in depth analysis of some of the holes, I must say that the course features the strongest set of Par 4s I’ve played so far.
The opening two holes were fairly straightforward on flat farm land, the second was SI 3 which we struggled to understand though figure wind might be a factor here. Things get interesting at the 3rd hole. Must confess we were scratching our heads where to hit initially before realising that we were hitting to the left of a strong dog leg right hole. This day it was a mid iron with the approach played into a green protected by dunes and hazards (and wallabies!) but can imagine that driver will often be needed. Hole was followed by another short Par 4 which John Sabino rates as one of the world’s best, I know this because I re-read his blog last night! Another short Par 4 tempting you to have a go, smart play is to hit another mid iron but I went for it. Smacked my drive but was five metres offline and the left greenside bunker snaffled my ball. This left a touch second shot and I ended up further away from the hole than had I just hit a 7 iron – PW from tee. A brief interlude past Reg’s hut and the beach took us to the longish Par 3 5th. The 7this a shorter Par 3 but a masterpiece reminiscent of the postage stamp at Troon. Only one thing to do here and that’s hit the green. I reckon my gap wedge was a couple of metres from being perfect but found myself off the back with an extremely hard second shot. I ended up with a 5 while Dad birdied the hole. Would love to play the hole in windy conditions. Two long Par 4s complete the opening 9 with the 9th featuring an approach shot on a steeply gradient fairway and the 8th just bloody hard! Phew time to take stock and take in probably the best 9 holes of golf I’ve played.
Second nine starts with the long Par 4 10th, again the lack of wind made the hole easier than it would usually play. The 12th is another great short Par 4 measuring only 254m. Although driveable its an immensely hard so the safe play is to hit a mid iron to set up an easy approach. The 13th is a longish Par 3 with an extremely contoured green, better to be short than long on this hole. An intimidating tee shot on the Par 5 14th awaits and is a hole that would benefit from hindsight, certainly better to stay left here as the distance to clear the bunkers on the right gets longer the more you go. The 15th is another fantastic dogleg Par 4 which requires a well hit long iron to open up the path to the green. Approaches hit short will be punished by the elevated state of the green and those long will be snaffled by the bunker. The Par 3 16th is another great short hole with a massive bunker protecting the front of the green which slopes from right to left. A tough proposition here to navigate the longer putts. The sublime 17th Par 4 runs alongside the bass strait and features an intimidating tee shot. The brave shot is to clear the bunker on the right setting up a simple approach, of course wind will often have other ideas here. The finishing 18th is a long Par 4 with an intimidating bunker protecting the clubhouse from the likes of me!
And that’s the Barnbougle Dunes golf course. Similar to my experience with Lost Farm, I simply wanted to reload and head out again but unfortunately a flight to Melbourne awaited. I will return again someday.
Best Hole – 3rd
Hardest Hole – 8th