For Americans, Tasmania symbolizes the ultimate remote destination; even if most Americans don’t know exactly where it is, the name alone represents a place as far as one could imagine getting away. So it came as a surprise that our new course in Tasmania is accessible from Australia’s major population centers, especially Melbourne—a one-hour flight and just over an hour’s drive from the airport.
An island state 300 miles off the southeast tip of the continent, Tasmania is shaped like a triangle about 150 miles across; a significant part is still wilderness. There are 23 national parks, used for camping and hiking; upscale ecotourism and wineries have flourished recently, but hardly anyone took golf clubs.
Barnbougle Dunes is intended to change that. It is the brainchild of Greg Ramsay, who spent time in Scotland after college and became enamored with links golf. He knew there were miles of undeveloped dunes in Tasmania, and he talked a potato farmer named Richard Sattler, whose land was along the northern coast, into letting him put together a syndicate to develop 18 holes on his useless land; he then talked myself and Michael Clayton, a former European Tour player from Australia, into getting involved.
After Greg’s financing fell through, Sattler built the project anyway, with the help of a few investors and the state government, which was most encouraging about a potential tourist attraction.
For all its great layouts, Australia has not had a true “destination” golf course—all the best courses are in the major cities—and it never had a true links. Barnbougle is a first in both categories. The front nine wanders through massive dunes, with some of the fairways near sea level and dunes 30 to 60 feet tall on the borders; several holes on the back nine run along the tops of broader dunes providing good views of Bridport Bay and a strand of beachfront. At the 18th hole, a sliced tee shot into the wind will wind up on the beach, where you can climb down and play your second shot back to the fairway! Above all, we hope that Australians and visitors to the country will support the concept of “destination golf” in Australia, so that other great sites such as this will be developed in the future.