Standing at the limit of an endless ocean
Golf at Lost Farm, what fun. There was certainly an element of déjà vu playing the course, my last outing was of course at Kapalua Plantation. Lost Farm is another product from Bill Coore and there are certainly some similarities to be seen. My motivation to play Sand Hills is now stronger than ever but will focus on the day at Lost Farm for now. Simply put this is the most fun I’ve had on a golf course so far, golf doesn’t confirm to convention here. There are 20 holes (why don’t more courses do this?), short Par 3s, long Par 5s set amongst farmland, dunes and the Bass Strait. The fine dining restaurant is located on site and boasts fantastic views. The day spa is also located here which is a great way to convince the missus for a long weekend if you’re commitment heavy like me. Accommodation here for weekend stays generally books out a year in advance so good to plan here though with Airbnb and Stayz.com.au you will never be far away.
Once again we were blessed with good weather, the previous day was torrential rain so the gods were smiling. We were told that December is generally the quietest month to play which is a surprise but we were one of three groups playing Friday morning. Fantastic to have one of the world’s best courses to yourself. Lost Farm opened for play in 2010 and makes the reason to go to Barnbougle even more compelling. The name ‘Lost Farm’ itself refers to the central paddock on the site where farmers would find missing cattle. Mike Keiser found of Bandon Dunes pushed owner Richard Sattler to develop the course and recommended Coore’s services. The end result sees holes routed through large sand dunes, on flat farmland and next to spectacular coastal views. Each portion is equally good and supplements the other. I don’t have this feeling often but after playing the 20 holes, I just wanted to go out again. This was a feeling repeated later when playing the Dunes course.
Playing from the Terracotta tees, Lost Farm starts with a shortish Par 5 which weaves to the left, I managed to smack my ball in the clag so was off to a cracking start! An early highlight is the short Par 4 third hole with a well protected green and raised ridge to the right of the fairway. The 4th is a fantastic short Par 3 with Bass Strait views, accuracy is paramount here as danger awaits all around the green. Would imagine this is a very tough hole when the wind is blowing. A tough tee shot awaits on the long Par 4 5th with a significant sand dune barring progress to the right. The clever play is to fade around the dune but easier said than done. The fairway slopes significantly from right to left potentially leaving a significant distance for the 3rd shot. A have a natural draw so one of the harder tee shots I’ve had to play. Next up is another strong Par 3 where the safe bet is to play left of the significant bunker. Dad was having a stormer up to this point and was one over. The golfing gods then began to fight back. The 7th is another strong Par 4 with a significant mound in the middle of the fairway, Dad’s tee shot was at the base of the knoll rendering the second shot very hard. The fairway then narrows as the green approaches leaving a tough approach. Great hole. The next is an extremely long Par 5 measuring over 550m. Danger all down the right plus an evil looking bunker on the left of fairway, course management of paramount here. The opening nine finishes with a beautiful short par 4, tee shot is hit from an elevated position with views extending to the clubhouse. Several members were replacing divots when we played the course so no wonder course is in immaculate condition.
Could the second nine or I should say 11 compete here with the opening holes? Answer is a resounding yes. The 10th is a longish Par 5 where tee shot is to be aimed between two significant dunes. We both messed up our tee shots resulting in 4 lost balls and hole was blobbed. Interestingly when looking for our balls we found 8 in 5 mins so we were in good company. Hole is fairly straightforward if you can hit the fairway. The next group of holes were the furthest from the ocean and made use of the farmland. The 11th and 12th were strong holes which almost served as a breather from some of the great views we had played to that point. The 13th was one of my favourites, a sharpish dogleg leg where the ideal shot is a draw from the tee, this opens up the green which is framed with dunes. There is a fairly longish walk to the first of the ‘extra’ holes 13a which is a short devilish par 3 played to an elevated green. Severe penalties await if you hit either greenside bunker, accuracy paramount here. The 14th is one of the first glamour holes and was reminiscent of the 18th at Kapalua though half the distance. Tee shot is played from an elevated position and green is reachable. Ideal shape is a fade here. What views await though. The 15th stirs more memories of Kapalua with a long downhill Par 3 next to the ocean. We were playing direct into the wind to a significant drop which makes club selection interesting to say the least. The restaurant overlooks the hole and the grand effect is simply stunning. The 16th allows the breath to be caught again and is a long Par 4 with a generous fairway to aim for. The 17th is another crackerjack mid-range Par 3 played to an elevated green, danger awaits all around. The 18th is another stunner which is played alongside the Bass Strait with dunes for protection measuring 420m. Wind assisted this day which was very welcome, ideal spot here is to be on the left of the fairway. There is a ridge protecting the front of the green which is generous to play too. The course finishes with another supplementary hole (18a), a short Par 3 which again is well protected. A strong hole though not as strong as the other Par 3s.
And that was Lost Farm, I already want to go back. The National has a fantastic set of golf courses though don’t compare to the Dunes. One of the real positives here is that there are scoring opportunities for all levels. Not overly long, tricky greens, ridges on fairways adding complexity to the approaches, both courses have so much to offer. One bug bear are some of the tee boxes which are uneven. I’ve taken off a point here from the conditioning score but this is a very minor point. So get over to Tassie and experience a slice of Aussie golfing heaven. I’m already planning my trip to Bandon Dunes.
Favourite Hole – 15th
Hardest Hole – 5th