At Golf Aficionado, we go anywhere to play great golf courses, and we mean anywhere. Last year I had the chance to combine my love of golf, travel, and adventure when I made the trek to Barnbougle in Tasmania. I spent 2 nights and 1 day at Barnbougle, playing 58 holes in a span of 12 hours. If you are not familiar with Barnbougle that is probably because it’s located down under. From the states Tasmania is not exactly an easy location to get to; in fact, it makes taking a trip to Bandon Dunes seem like crossing the street. Tasmania is an island located south of Australia’s mainland; obviously better known for Tasmania Devils than for golf but hopefully, this article will help change that. Not many American golfers have had the opportunity to make it to Australia, let alone Tasmania. I hope that after reading this article, should you happen to find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere you make it a point to visit Barnbougle.
Barnbougle is Australia’s premier golf destination featuring two championship golf courses; Barnbougle Dunes designed by Tom Doak, and Barnbougle Lost Farm designed by Coore and Crenshaw. Barnbougle Dunes opened in 2005 followed later by Lost Farm in 2010. Australian citizens have embraced the resort as well as visitors from nearby New Zealand playing more than 50,000 rounds of golf a year at Barnbougle.
Each course at Barnbougle has its own dedicated clubhouse, lodging, and dining. During my visit, I slept in a room at Lost Farm, and I recommend staying at Lost Farm over Barnbougle Dunes. The complex at Lost Farm is newer and when compared to Barnbougle Dunes the layout and facilities are better arranged. I arrived at the resort late in the evening, after flying in from Melbourne; I rented a car and made the 1 ½ hour drive to the resort. I made a mistake and followed my GPS; it used the most direct route, which consisted of several twists and turns on treacherous roads. At night, the route is flat out scary, especially for someone not used to driving on the right side of the road. The best travel tip, use the resort recommended route from the airport, which is the Georgetown route, an even better but pricey option, is booking a seat on a private charter which flies directly into Barnbougle.
Once you arrive at Barnbougle, you will quickly realize this place is all about one thing, GOLF. The resort is rustic, down to earth and full of people that just absolutely love the game of golf. What Barnbougle lacks in thrills and luxury amenities it makes up for with two amazing golf courses and a staff that is dedicated to providing you with an unforgettable golf adventure.
My experience at Barnbougle was a world wind, I was nearly 10,000 miles away from home and only had one day to make the most of my time at Barnbougle. My plan all along was to play three rounds; I was first out on the Lost Farm course and had an early afternoon tee time over at Barnbougle Dunes. I had already made up my mind that the third round would be on the course I like the most out of the two. I had a full day ahead of me; walking 54 holes, which turned out to actually be 58 holes, no small task.
Starting the day off could not have been easier, I was up before sunrise and made the short walk from my room down to the Lost Farm pro shop. The staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful, after hearing all about Golf Aficionado, they wished me well and sent me out on the course with a few words of wisdom. At that point, I realized Lost Farm was actually a 20-hole golf course as opposed to an 18-hole course. Lost Farm, designed by Coore and Crenshaw, did not disappoint. Right out of the gate, you find yourself in the middle of a minimalistic course design that compliments the natural layout of Tasmania. The course layout features a mix of holes along both the coast and inland amongst steep sand dunes. Lost Farm relies on a mix of strategic bunkers and undulating greens to counterbalance wide forgiving fairways.
The signature hole at Lost Farm is the 485-yard Par-4 5th. From the tee box, you face a dilemma of either navigating a 20ft sand dune or playing it safe and driving it far left into a wide rolling fairway. Those looking for an eagle opportunity should take on the dune with a tee shot up the river, aiming for the just-visual corner of the green. Cut the distance off and drive the green and an eagle or birdie are within your grasp, miss the green and you are in the river — the choice is yours. All I can tell you is I did not travel 10,000 miles to play it safe.
Lost Farm is a forgiving course, not to say that it was easy. The wide fairways give golfers of all skill levels a chance at success, the strategic bunkers and undulating greens separate the golfers from the pretenders. After finishing my first 20 holes of the day, I was excited to head over to Dunes and see what Tom Doak had in store.
Tom Doak started things off at Barnbougle in December of 2004 when Barnbougle Dunes had their soft opening and immediately became one of the top golf courses in Australia. As the years went by and the course matured, Dunes gained worldwide acclaim and in 2014 earned a ranking of the 11th best golf course in the world by Golf Digest. With such accolades, you can see why Barnbougle garnered a visit from Golf Aficionado.
Dunes features several great holes so it is hard to narrow it down to one signature hole, but I will do my best to highlight some of the top contenders. At the top of the list is the par-3 7th, short in length measuring in at only 124 yards. With a prevailing wind at your back, you will rarely require anything more than a pitching wedge. However, accuracy is at a premium on the 7th. An elevated green, well protected by surrounding bunkers and thick grass makes for a challenging shot regardless of distance.
Another great hole on the course is the 4th, a short par-4 playing at only 300-yards. Another conundrum, from the tee box you have to decide how to attack the hole. The short distance and prevailing tailwind will entice most golfers to go for the green, just look out for the deep bunker in the front of the green designed to swallow up errant drives, again I did not travel all this way to lay up. However, laying up is an option but the problem with laying up is that you are still left with a blind approach shot that has to clear that nasty bunker protecting an elevated green. Yet another choice would be playing it down the left side of the fairway, from there you should have an approach shot that allows you to see the green, but it’s a difficult shot as its nearly impossible to hold the small green from this angle. I know too much to think about! Just grip it and rip it, and hope to avoid that bunker.
I did not forget about the back nine, the 352-yard 15th is one the most memorable. The 15th is another hole that forces you to pick a path and commit, see a theme yet? The fairway features a large bunker in the middle, about 260 yards out. You can either play it down the right, which gives a clear view of the green, but from a very difficult angle. The other option is to play it down the left side, you will not be able to see the green but the angle from the left side of the fairway provides a better chance of holding the putting surface.
Dunes is a puzzle of a golf course, I would highly recommend employing the use of a caddie to help solve the puzzle. Several of the holes offer multiple ways to play them, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of your game, you will have to choose the path that best suits your game. A traditional links golf course that meanders along Tasmania’s dramatic North East coast, the natural beauty and breathtaking scenery provide the blueprint for a special golf experience.
The Better of the Two Courses?
Perhaps, I already gave it away when I said I walked 58 holes, 18 on Dunes and 40 on Lost Farm. Maybe it was the charm of the two extra holes or the fact I felt the views of the coast were more dramatic and compelling on Lost Farm. After playing each course, I decided to finish the day with a round on Lost Farm. Nothing against Dunes, it is an excellent course worthy of all the acclaim; I just felt Lost Farm was more fun to play and provides the best chance to score.
Lost Farm did not disappoint, having one round under belt, I had more confidence in how to attack the course and ended up having one of the best rounds of my life. As a golfer with a handicap that hovers around 15, Lost Farm was challenging and fun, providing me numerous opportunities to score. On the outward nine, I had an eagle and two birdies and could not have felt more on top of the world after nine holes. Unfortunately, on the back nine, I dropped a few shots here and there as fatigue from walking 58 holes started to take its toll on my mind and body.
The 19th hole
By the time I finished the final hole, I was at the height of golf euphoria and in desperate need of a drink. I will never forget walking into the restaurant and hearing a man yelling out “Now that looks like a man that could use a drink”, truer words have never been spoken. Among the small crowd, was Richard Sattler the owner of Barnbougle. He gladly bought me a drink and wanted to hear all about my experience at Barnbougle. It turns out, not too many folks visit Barnbougle and walk 58 holes in a day, by the end of the night and after several drinks, I had become a bit of a legend. Later that evening, I ended up having dinner with a group I met in the bar. 3 generations of a family from Ireland, with the son and grandson now living in Perth, we shared stories and enjoyed recalling some of our best shots out on the course. The camaraderie with fellow guests and ownership sets Barnbougle apart from any other golf experience in the world; everyone genuinely loves golf.
Barnbougle’s Distant Cousin
As a huge fan of Tom Doak and Coore and Crenshaw designs, the comparison of Barnbougle that comes to mind is Streamsong. In fact, Streamsong seemed to follow the Barnbougle blueprint having the same design teams build Streamsong Blue and Red. In my mind, Barnbougle is a more mature less luxurious version of Streamsong that happens to be located on the coast of Tasmania. While Streamsong will continue to evolve and mature over time, they will never be able to offer the coastal views that set Barnbougle apart. Barnbougle just needs a third course by Gill Hanse, to stay on par with the ever-evolving Streamsong.
Things to Know When Visiting Barnbougle
The number one most critical thing to know when visiting Barnbougle is to bring fly repellant. The flies are in abundance and will stick to you like glue unless you’re properly prepared. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than trying to take a swing when flies are landing on your ears and face. The second most important thing is to realize the best way to get to Barnbougle. Without a doubt, taking a private charter that lands at Barnbougle itself is the way to go. However, it’s expensive and most guests will fly into Launceston and then drive to Barnbougle. If driving to Barnbougle from Launceston it’s very important to take the Georgetown route, especially if you’re arriving at night like I did. Remember you will be driving on the right side of the road, I stayed on the proper side of the road by remembering to always keep the center lane on my right shoulder.
In search of world-class golf and an unforgettable golfing adventure than look no further than Barnbougle. Meandering through rolling coastal dunes Barnbougle offers 38 holes of championship golf that was developed to compliment the natural layout of the coastal dunes of Tasmania. The golf courses of Barnbougle enhance the beautiful surrounding landscape rather than detract from it. Ready to book? Visit the Barnbougle website to make your booking, and plan the golf adventure of a lifetime.