Once found, you’ll never forget golf at Barnbougle Lost Farm.
The flight to Launceston was uneventful but after a wrong turn on my way to Bridport that led to encounters with every native species of Tasmanian fauna, I realised this would be no ordinary golf weekend away.
I was on my own. My golfing buddy had pulled out of the trip because his twin boys had arrived 10 weeks early*. It is amazing what lengths some people will go to avoid playing golf with me, but to miss playing two of the most hyped golf courses in Australia was unforgivable.
The wrong turn from the night before had me a little frazzled. So when I turned into what I thought was the entrance to Lost Farm and saw no sign of a golf course after several hundred metres I was wishing for a navigator.
But like most things in Tassie, good things come to those who wait and as I went deeper into sand and dunes, Lost Farm appeared and it was to be my playing partner for the day.
I’d contemplated walking the course with the bag on my back but instead opted for a buggy. Still waking up, I shuffled my ball down the first hole giving the course my utmost respect, when my cart gave way. The golfing gods forced me to play the way the game was intended. Golf bag on my back, I was walking.
If my breath hadn’t been taken away at the sight of the first three holes at Lost Farm, I nearly hypoventilated on the fourth.
A short walk up the rise and you are first met with a view of Bass Strait with a beach stretching out for miles. Next you notice a gorgeous little par-3 sitting precariously on the top of the dunes. It is not a long hole but I had trouble with it both times I played it. No room for error, especially left.
The tee shot at the fifth will mess with your noggin. A gigantic dune sits to the right and the fairway barely fairway reveals itself like a brown snake sneaking off into the fescue. I’m not sure I’ve ever concentrated so hard over a golf shot in my life. The second shot is not much simpler and will almost always require a long iron. Grab par or better, and you’ll have a grin from ear to ear going to the next hole. Bogey or more, and you’ll still appreciate a tough golf hole that needs huge amounts of respect.
The two finishing holes on the front nine start with an epic par-5 that requires thought of every shot. It includes with a nasty front greenside bunker that from personal experience is worth avoiding. The short par-4 ninth hole will have you in two, possibly three minds off the tee.
I couldn’t wait to play my tee shot on the 10th and being in a group of one, I was first to play.
A narrow chute through huge dunes opens up to a big landing area below (that looks a lot smaller from the tee) and ends with a quintessential links golf styled green. No huge danger but it’s a green that requires some skill to get close to the flagstick.
I really got a kick out of the 13th hole that isn’t mentioned so much in previous Lost Farm reviews I’ve read.
The tee shot is a respite of sorts with a large area to land the golf ball before you turn left into a stadium-like approach to the green. It is not an overly difficult hole but the surrounding dunes loom large and it feels like a golf hole that nature had intended all along.
As you can tell I loved Lost Farm but at the time had no one to tell.
One hole in particular will stand out in my mind as one of the greatest I will ever play. The par-4 14th hole is a work of art.
Once again, it fits beautifully into the majestic dune structure but it flies in the face of most modern golf holes. This is a short par-4. Real short. Many golfers, high handicappers included, can drive it further than the green but miss it in any way, and you’re paying for it.
This hole is gives the middle finger to modern technology, large egos and the non-thinking golfer. Go play it and get a lesson on how to play golf.
I finished the hole. Got my breath back and walked to the next tee which once again brought me to the ocean and a stunning 15th hole.
And it goes on. Currently a 20-hole golf course, Lost Farm is as close to golf perfection as I’ve ever played in that it’s hard not to have fun on the golf course no matter what state your game is in.
I’ve always had an issue with Top-100 golf courses lists as many of them really shouldn’t be played by high handicappers or golfers just learning the game. They’re too tough. Professionals and local members may get a kick out of them but in truth, they can be demoralising.
Lost Farm is the antithesis of these golf courses. The course is a huge challenge for low handicappers, with plenty of respite holes or bail out options for the hackers. No matter what standard of golfer plays Lost Farm, everyone will come away with an appreciation for the game. Even those who play golf on their own may come away with a new friend.
* The boys are a picture of perfect health and will be making their own trip to Barnbougle Lost Farm very soon.