It’s all your fault Barnbougle Dunes!
You already know that we are traveling the world with our golf clubs so that we can play some of the world’s greatest golf courses. But did you know that in the beginning, bringing our golf clubs wasn’t part of the plan?
We have been dreaming and planning to travel the world for years. But the original plan was to travel lite. Let’s just throw a couple of t-shirts and flip flops in a backpack and we’re off, was the idea.
But, as keen golfers, there were some courses around the world that we really wanted to play. I kept seeing incredible photos of Barnbougle Dunes, and thought wow, how could we possibly travel the world and not play golf there? The more we thought about it, the more we liked the idea. So, we went back to dreaming and planning how to travel the world while playing golf. And that is how Puttering around the World was born!
It’s All Your Fault Barnbougle Dunes
I have wanted to play golf at Barnbougle since seeing the first pictures. The photos of the links were breathtaking. I read that Barnbougle was located in Tasmania. Tasmania?! Wow, that sounds like a long way from here. I knew that Tasmania was an island, but to be honest, I never really knew where Tasmania was. But someday, I thought to myself, I will play Barnbougle.
Before we quit our jobs, sold our stuff, and set out to travel the world with just our backpacks and golf clubs, Menekse was a travel agent. In 2014, she attended a seminar put on by the Australian Tourism Board. Tasmania was one of the topics, and she was mesmerized! She fell in love with the sunny postcard beautiful beaches, the orange lichen-covered rocks glistening in the sun, and of course the Tasmanian Devil! Someday, she thought, I will go to Tasmania.
Fast forward to early 2018, as we started putting together a rough plan on where we wanted to travel, Menekse said that Tasmania was extremely high on her bucket list. Tasmania, I thought, now that sounds familiar. Isn’t that where Barnbougle is located? If we’re going to go all the way to Tasmania, we have to play Barnbougle.
In a moment of weakness, Menekse thought out loud “Why not bring our golf clubs”?! Before she could even finish her sentence, “Yes!” I replied immediately, as my eyes sparkled with excitement. And our golf bags had instantly become an essential ingredient of our travel plans!
Making Our Dream Come True
Nearly three years after all our dreaming, we arrived in Tasmania in late 2020. With our backpacks and golf clubs loaded in Putu, our campervan that we had bought in Melbourne, we exited off the small one-lane road and down the long driveway. Walking into the Clubhouse felt like Christmas morning, and we were giddy with anticipation about what lie ahead!
Co-designed by the Obi-Wan of golf course designers Tom Doak, and the brilliant Australian Michael Clayton, Barnbougle Dunes opened for play in 2004. We have played a few of Mr. Doak’s masterpieces in our travels, Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes, Cape Kidnappers, and most recently St Andrews Beach in Australia, and have always been in awe of his artistry!
Ranked sixteenth in Golf Digest’s World’s Greatest Golf Courses 2020 edition, and a true links golf course, Barnbougle is home to two incredible golf courses; Lost Farm, which we played first, and the Dunes course. Both were a must-play on our ultimate golf course bucket list.
Open to the public, Barnbougle Dunes has 4 sets of tees; the 6724-yard Forrester (0-4 handicap) and 6170-yard Boobyalla tees, which both play to a par of 71. And the 5463-yard Melaleuca and 5013-yard Marram tees (28 handicap and up), both of which play as par 72. Excited and admittedly somewhat anxious to make our years-long dream come true, Menekse stepped up to the Marram tees, while I played from Boobyalla.
Get Ready for the Ride of your Life!
After easing into your round with the opening two holes, the 371-yard par 4 third is where Barnbougle Dunes really starts. With a somewhat blind tee shot, the best target is down the right side of the dogleg right fairway, as close to the dunes as you feel is safe. A fairway bunker is strategically placed on the direct line to the green, but there is plenty of room left. But taking the safe route off the tee brings a left greenside bunker into play. Playing a 5-wood, I avoided the trouble off the tee and went down the right side of the fairway. The approach into the long but narrow third green is deceptive due to the fairway bunker. Now, hang onto your hat because you are in for the ride of your life!
One of the Greatest Golf Shots I’ve Ever Seen
The pin is visible from the tee on the 296-yard par 4 fourth, but don’t confuse yourself into thinking that makes it accessible. There is a huge dune and enormous bunker on the right side of the fairway, that reminded us of the opening hole at Ocean Dunes. Choose any club off the tee that will avoid that bunker. I hit a 5-iron down the left side that left me with just a short wedge to the three-leafed clover-shaped green. But be careful, because if you go too far left, you won’t even be able to see the green!
Menekse landed just short of the Himalayan fairway bunker and was faced with the daunting task of negotiating the giant. After carefully weighing her options, she grabbed her trusty nine-iron and proceeded to hit one of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen! Flying over the summit, we walked around the bend and could see her ball on the green! Incredible!
We both had reasonable birdie opportunities on four, but regrettably, neither of us was able to convert.
The Wind Picks Up
Passing Reg’s Hut, the walk from the fourth green to the fifth tee is one of the greatest walks in all golf. Set high upon the dunes above the ocean, we were spell-bound as we crossed what is known as the Barnbougle Dune Top Walk. Looking down at the beaches below could feel the winds pick up speed as it blew across the Bass Straight.
That wind will be a deciding factor in how you play the 220-yard par 3 fifth. Downhill from the tee, there is nothing but bush and a few bunkers short. One of those bunkers is so large that there are bushes growing out of it! Playing downwind, Menekse hit driver off the tee. As we walked downhill from the tee, we were protected by the dune from the howling wind. The green is a narrow target that slopes in every direction!
I had 206-yards to the pin, hit 6-iron, and was over the green. Probably even 2 clubs long! But I was ecstatic being able to get up and down and write 3 on the scorecard!
A Golf Hole Carved from Heaven
Climbing back up the slope you just walked down, the tee shot on the 417-yard par 4 sixth is frightfully intimating looking! Trying to figure out how to play the dogleg right that has dunes on both sides, I grabbed the driver. With the wind gusting behind us, I stared down the fairway and hit a good tee shot a little high, but with the wind it was perfect. The fairway on six is in a narrow valley. But if you miss the valley, just drop another ball, because you will never find it! It is important to be as close to the mound on the right as you can to see the pin. My ball landed in the middle of the fairway, and I could see the green, but I couldn’t see the flag.
Menekse played the hole up the left side, and we met again at the long narrow green. Her approach shot had come to rest about 2 yards short of the elevated green. “Should I putt this?” she wondered aloud, trying to decide between a wedge and putter. Electing her putter, she proceeded to hole out a good 60-footer for a fantastic par! Ah, yes, you should putt that!
Be sure to look back at the fairway when you walk off because the sixth hole at Barnbougle looks like it was carved from heaven!
Tom’s Little Devil
Nicknamed Tom’s Little Devil, the 122-yard par 3 seventh turns you around and plays back in the same direction as the opening holes. For us, this meant that the tiny postage stamp-sized green was directly into the strong wind! There are bunkers short and right of the green that is away from the putting surface, but the false front would make for an extremely difficult up and down. There are no bunkers long, but the slope behind the green won’t stop until it’s a lost ball, which means that long isn’t an option either. And the bunkers left are well overhead high deep! Miss it left and you might as well pack a lunch because you’re going to be down there awhile. All this adds up to is that there is no safe miss on seven.
Having already eaten, I was determined not to go left. With the wind gusting off the ocean, I decided to try my luck with a knock-down eight-iron. Holding my breath, I watched it land pin high in the middle right of the tiny green, and then roll off the right side.
Menekse hit an eight-iron absolutely on a rope! But the wind caught it, and it landed on the very front edge. It rolled halfway up the hill, then in disbelief, we watched it roll back down the same hill, coming to rest short of the green.
As we approached the green and peaked down into the caverns of the bunkers left, Menekse laughed that they are actually two-James deep!
We both hit the green and neither of us walked off with pars. The seventh at Barnbougle again proves that the devil doesn’t have to be long to be difficult.
High Route or Low Route
There are two ways to play the long number 1 handicap 488-yard par 4 eighth. The left side is the higher side, while the left is the low side. And in between, there is nothing but a steep grassy area that splits the fairway in two. Oh, and kangaroos! We had switched directions again and were playing back towards the clubhouse, and thankfully with the wind. Even after consulting our course guide, we weren’t sure which route to take. It appeared that there could be more trouble down the narrower right side, even though it may present an easier approach. I aimed down the low side, made a solid strike, and still had 197-yards in!
Menekse opted for the high side, which upon reflection was probably the better play. We’ll try and remember that for our next visit!
Miss the green right and you will be forced to navigate a bunker on that side of the green that is basically a death trap! The green on eight is one of the larger greens but slopes away from the fairway.
How would you play the eighth hole at Barnbougle Dunes?
A Knock Over Your Trolley Kind of Wind
The 447-yard par 4 tenth is the only hole that you can see when you drive into the resort. The best angle to the green on this dogleg left is the left. But of course, there is nothing but trouble down that side! Playing with some confidence, I aimed down the left side, flew the bunker, and was rewarded with just a short iron in.
By now the wind was really blowing, but the tenth continued in the downwind direction. We have played golf in really strong winds before, most notably at Carnoustie, but today’s wind was much more than a wee breeze! The wind helped Menekse hit a huge tee shot, taking the safer approach right of the dangerous bunkers on the left.
The tenth green is another good-sized green and it rests on top of an elevated location. As we got to the green, grabbed our putters, and left our trolleys, another huge gust flew past us and knocked over our pull carts!
Another Difficult Par Three
Be sure to take a moment and look around because the views on the long par 3 thirteen are incredible. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to laser the distance 4 times, and still wasn’t able to get a definite distance. With the pin in the back of an absolute huge multi-tiered green, I finally settled on 222-yards.
Remembering what happened back on the fifth, I grabbed a six-iron knowing that the wind was at least 2 clubs. I landed in the middle of the green, and my ball rolled to the back tier, but continued on and finished behind the hole. There is a mound behind the green that I was hoping to get some help from, but, perhaps because of the wind, it didn’t roll back on. I did manage to get up and down for a very satisfying par on another of Barnbougle’s difficult par threes!
Threading the Needle
The dogleg right 351-yard par 4 fifteen is at the furthest point of the golf course, and the enormous dune that runs along the famous fifth hole at Lost Farm is visible across the Great Forrester River. There is a huge fairway bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway, so you need to decide which side of the fairway is best. In diabolical Tom Doak fashion, there is a big landing area on the left side of this dogleg right. But the only point where you can view the green is to thread the needle up the tight right side, which was my target. Turning back and now into the wind, I hit another good tee shot down the aggressive right side.
Menekse took dead aim at the fairway bunker. She was lucky that she was into the wind because she nutted her tee shot, and there is no doubt that it would have gone in! The fifteenth green is another largish green. But it narrows in the center, and with trouble both left and right, it feels much smaller than it is.
Dead into the wind, the sixteenth played only 161-yards, but I hit 5-iron! On a golf course that is full of beautiful golf holes, this par 3 is simply incredible. Regardless of what tee you play sixteen from, be sure to play a shot from the Marram tees. Sitting on one of the highest vantage points on the property, the view from the top of the tee box is unforgettable! Menekse hit a driver from 132-yards that landed just short and ran on, setting her up for a 15-foot birdie putt that curled left at the last second and unfortunately eluded her.
A Monster of a Golf Hole
With the ocean and beach on your right, we were chasing the sun on the 437-yard par 4 seventeenth. And what an absolute beast it was! With the strong wind howling from the ocean on the right, there is a fairway bunker down the right side that I thought was a good target. I thought that if I used that line, the wind would push the ball back to the middle of the fairway. I hit a great tee shot, right on line, but it didn’t move left as I had hoped! But the bunker was well out of reach for me today. From 197-yards, I smoked a 4-iron, and still had a full wedge in!
The perfect position off the tee is where Menekse finished- just to the left of the bunker. From there, it was possible for her to hit a low runner that stayed under the wind. There are bunkers on both sides of the very long green, that leave no room for error.
I had read that seventeen is a tough hole, but today it played more like a monster!
One of the Wonders of the Golfing World
Wow, what an incredible experience! Barnbougle Dunes is golf at its absolute best! With some of the greatest golf holes in the world, it is a must-play and belongs on every golfer’s bucket list! To be able to play courses like this is the reason why we travel to the ends of the earth. Hell, Barnbougle is why we golf. Period!
The course was in pristine conditions. Characteristic of true links golf, the fescue fairways were firm and fast. They merged seamlessly into the large, undulated greens which were receptive, and offered multiple options to play shots. Due to the wind, we had to play many shots low to the ground. But that is what makes golf courses like Barnbougle exceptional. Just like the classic links courses in the UK, Barnbougle was built with ground shots in mind. Sure, there are a few bunkers short of the greens. But perhaps except for the seventh, every green is accessible from somewhere on the ground.
We had much more wind than our day at Lost Farm. With the wind blowing off our hats every other hole, not to mention tipping over our trolleys, at times we found it difficult to concentrate. But the sun shined bright and kept us warm in our short sleeve shirts.
As we finished playing Barnbougle Dunes and stood there marveling at one of the wonders of the golfing world, we couldn’t help but think that our dream had come true! It is courses like Barnbougle that made our decision to bring our clubs worth every struggle! We are living proof that golfers will drag their clubs to the ends of the earth to play spectacular golf. Even if they only have a couple of t-shirts!