Ranked 47th in Golf Digest’s World’s Greatest Golf Courses 2020 edition, Lost Farm is a true links golf course and was a must-play on our ultimate golf course bucket list. Barnbougle is home to two incredible golf courses: Lost Farm, and the Dunes course. And if you read about our golf travels, you know that the courses at Barnbougle are the reason why we decided to travel the world to play golf!
Menekse and I arrived at Barnbougle a day prior to our first round at Lost Farm. We wanted to savor our time here. As we were stocking up on goodies from the Lost Farm Clubhouse, we ran into our mate Carl Murphy, who you know from Instagram as @aussiegolfquest! He was playing the Dunes course that afternoon and had plans to play Lost Farm on the same day as us. We quickly checked with the starter and adjusted our tee times so that we could play together.
Lost Farm is listed as Coore and Crenshaw design. However, we read that scheduling conflicts prevented Ben Crenshaw from participating, so the layout is primarily that of the extremely talented Bill Coore.
A Special Day
Lost Farm was a special day for me. It was my father’s birthday. In fact, it was 30 years to the day of my father’s last birthday. He passed away many, many years ago, but I still fondly remember our rounds of golf together. Extremely passionate about the game, he is a huge influence on my love of the game of golf.
My father was an exceptional player. His short game was legendary, and his creativity around the greens was remarkable. He could visualize shots that I never even knew existed and could get up and down from anywhere. With the match on the line, he relished in the pressure of making the winning putt. I vividly remember the first time I beat him. I was 16 years old, and we played a late evening 9-holes after he got home from work. As I rolled in a 4-footer to save par on nine, which bettered him by a stroke, I looked over. A big smile lit up his face, and his eyes sparkled with pride.
Menekse and I talk a lot about what he might think about the golf journey we’ve embarked upon. What would he say about us quitting our jobs, selling our stuff, and stepping out with just backpacks and golf clubs in search of the world’s greatest golf courses? We’ll never know, but I have a hunch that he would approve.
First Tee Jitters
With just a light breeze, it was probably the warmest day we had in our entire 4-month journey through Tasmania. I hit the ball very well on the range, which always makes me nervous to be able to transition that swing out to the course.
Open to the public, one of the most interesting facts about Lost Farm is that it has 20 holes! Both the thirteenth and eighteenth have additional short par three holes, referred to as the “a” holes (not to be confused with, well…). Lost Farm has 4 sets of tees; the enormous 7112-yard Black and 6673-yard Terra-Cotta that play to a par of 78, and the 5838-yard Blue and 4823-yard Cream tees, that play to a par of 79. Carl and I selected the Terra-Cotta tees, while Menekse chose Cream.
This round is for dad I promised myself as I made my way to the first tee. Doing my best to swallow my emotions, I stepped up to the first tee with butterflies in my stomach. And a lump in my throat.
Let The Fun Begin
Carl said that the 277-yard third hole is what you play the opening 2 warm-up holes for. A drivable short par 4, the third is a definite decision hole. There is a bunker in the middle of the fairway, and anything short of that is a perfect position. With a fairway that really narrows close to the green, I never really gave “go for it” any serious consideration. I hit a 7-iron off the tee which left me with 91-yards remaining, a perfect distance for a 54-degree wedge.
With a slightly uphill approach, I was only able to see the top of the pin, because the fairway bunker, which is much closer to the green than I thought from the tee, obscures the view. There is a lot of movement in the back half of the green, so if the pin is in the middle or back, this would be a very difficult hole. With the pin in the front, we had it mild today!
With the ocean on your right, the 136-yard fourth is a short downhill par 3. A tiny hole, but with no place to miss, it is huge in fear factor! On a more normal day, we imagine that the wind would be an enormous factor in club selection. But in today’s conditions, we both found the middle of the green off the tee.
Carl said that after your tee shots, it is tradition to putt from the tee box to the green on four. In the colossal winds that we experienced at Barnbougle Dunes, putting might have been the right play! But neither of us was closer with our putts than we were with our tee balls, so we happily played our first balls!
One of the World’s Greatest Golf Holes
The 474-yard par 4 fifth hole at Lost Farm is the number 1 handicap hole and is one of the greatest holes in all our travels!
Carl shared a story with us that Adam Scott played the fifth from the black tee. He aimed right of the huge dune that runs the length of the hole and drew his tee shot back into the fairway. I guess I forgot to ask how he played the remainder of the hole but to challenge that bunker from the right is a completely different game than I am capable of!
For the rest of us, left of the dune is the only realistic way to play the hole. Frightened that I would not be able to hit driver high enough fast enough to clear the dune, I hit rescue off the tee, which in retrospect isn’t a bad play. Whatever you decide to hit off the tee, you need to be down the left side of the fairway to be able to see any part of the green. Menekse hit her tee shot down the middle, and she could only see the left corner of the fifth green!
With 257-yards remaining, but slightly downwind, I knew that I would need to rely on getting up and down if I wanted any chance to make par. Deciding to lay up, I threw a good divot from a 5-iron, which may have been helped by the wind and the fescue fairways, because it finished much closer to the green than I thought that it would. After a great knockdown pitch, I rolled in the putt to save par on one of the greatest golf holes in the world!
Three Greens Wide
The 170-yard par 3 sixth has an enormous green, that is protected by an equally enormous greenside bunker short. In fact, this green feels like it is at least 3 greens wide! But is also fairly narrow, so as long as your distance is right, hitting the green from the tee isn’t all that difficult. The checkerboard flag was located on the left third of those three greens. My tee ball landed pin high but rolled to the back of the narrow green. Even though I didn’t have as long of a putt as is possible on six, I still managed to 3 putt. After making a great par on five, my 3-putt bogey on six was a killer. But I am positive that I am not alone in 3-putting that green!
We hate to spoil the surprise, but there is a fairway bunker cleverly hidden behind Uluru on the 397-yard par 4 seventh. Uluru is the name of the large mound that sits directly in the middle of the fairway. It takes its name from the iconic red rock that seemed to move us spiritually while we were in the Northern Territory. Playing downwind, I gripped driver, confident that I could fly the large fairway mound.
Not knowing what lurked on the other side, my heart missed a beat as we descended down the back of Uluru and saw a small treacherous pot bunker! From the tee, the bunker is in the middle third of the fairway. Thankfully, my line was to the left of the bunker, down the left side of the fairway. Seven might actually be more difficult to play your second time around because banging a driver out there might not be the smartest of plays! With so many different options to play the hole, the seventh was a fun and memorable golf hole!
The view of the fairway from the tee shot on the 594-yard par 5 tenth is beautiful! With plenty of room right, the best play is to hug the left side of the valley. There is a bunker down the right side of the fairway that is the ideal target. Just make sure you turn it over a touch, else any big hitters out there could easily reach the bunker. With a definite shape in mind, I fired my tee shot straight at the bunker, turning it over to find the middle of the fairway. From there, I continued to play my yardages. I laid up with a 6-iron to a distance that I like for my 54-degree wedge.
From 123-yards, Menekse hit a sensational 7-iron that I thought was going to go in! It rolled up, took a look in the hole, and come to rest about 6-feet from the pin. She has struggled in the past to be able to read greens. But, traveling and living for the past year in a campervan in Australia, she says has taught her how to read the campsites to find level spots for us to park. Armed with her new skill, she confidently rolled her putt in for par, a net eagle!
Walking up to the tee, you already know that the 418-yard par 4 thirteenth is going to be an outstanding golf hole. A slight dogleg left, the fairway settles beautifully down a valley that is bounded on both sides by towering dunes. The hole looks like it was ripped from Ireland and lovingly transported the 11,000-mile journey to Tasmania!
All three of us hit great tee shots, Carl and Menekse down the middle, I just left of center, which left me 127-yards in. The fairway begins to narrow where it should, and there is a bunker on the left side, which I didn’t notice from the tee box.
13a as it is known is the first of the two bonus holes. If you have the space to build an extra hole, and it doesn’t distract from the aesthetics of the design, why not build it! A short 132-yard par 3, which you could skip, but then again, why would you! The sun was beginning its descent, and the golden hour was transforming an already beautiful golf course into something magical. With roughly the same distance that I had on four, Carl had me take aim just right of the pin. With a quick swing, I caught it thin, and it didn’t turn back towards the pin. Pin high, and from a tight lie, I made a decent pitch which led to a gratifying par save.
As we were walking towards the green, we noticed a large gallery of wallabies resting on the dunes, watching our every move. It is times like these that make us stop and realize that we are a long way from home!
Let’s Talk About Golf
Carl told us that the fourteenth at Lost Farm is one of the most talked-about holes architecturally. At only 288-yard, the par 4 may be reachable for many elite players. The hole turns just slightly right, and the left side of the fairway is wide open. There is a plateau on that side that offers a tempting flat lie. However, the left side of the fairway also provides a much more difficult angle to a narrow green, which would make an already small green feel even smaller.
Carl pointed out a fairway bunker down the right side as the target and then added that we must miss our target by a step to the left. I was swinging with a lot of confidence and hit a ripper of a 3-wood that flew the target and found the perfect position in the fairway.
The fourteenth green is a steep two-tiered green and is one of the most difficult greens on the course. The higher back half of the green is extremely narrow and would be difficult regardless of which side of the fairway you approach it from. With the pin in the lower front half, the added advantage of playing down the right side of the fairway was that I was able to use the slope of the green to my advantage.
Close But No Cigar
With a direct view of the ocean from the tee, the 195-yard par 3 fifteenth is stunning. Playing downhill, the green is framed by enormous dunes on both sides. The left side is protected by 2 bunkers and there is another huge bunker well short of the green on the right. Regardless of the pin placement, you need to play towards the left side of the large green, because anything middle right will funnel down off the green into a grass collection area, which both Menekse and I learned the hard way.
It is vital to keep your tee shot down the left side of the dogleg right 418-yard par 4 sixteenth. Because, if you hit it down the right side as I did, you won’t be able to see the green and will have a blind approach to the green. Even with an 8-iron, I had no direct sight of the green. With the sun quickly setting, I landed on the left side of the pin, giving myself another chance at birdie which I frustratingly squandered.
Another beautiful par 3, the uphill 183-yard seventeenth has bunkers on both sides. Playing well, I played one club less, knowing that the roll would more than compensate for the cool air. My ball landed on the front third of the green and settled pin high. About fifteen feet left, I pulled my putt, missing another birdie opportunity.
One Hell of a Par Four
Turning back towards the clubhouse, and running along the ocean, the 459-yard par 4 eighteenth is a challenging finishing hole. With bunkers on the right, and there are a lot of bunkers on the right, the fairway looks extremely tight. There is plenty of area down the left, but because of the angle, the closer your tee shot is to the bunkers, the more accessible the green will be.
As I stood in awe of what lies in front of us, I mentioned to Carl that there is nothing better than a tough par four finishing hole. “Then this is your baby” was his brilliant response!
With only one bunker long left of the green, don’t be fooled into thinking there is no danger surrounding the final hole. I leaked my 5-iron approach just slightly right, but it was enough to find the slope that leads to a large collection area that protects the entire right side of the green. Making this an extremely hard spot to try and save par. I hit a clean pitch, that still left me with about 12-feet of real estate. Carl noticed that I was missing my putts to the left, so I was determined not to pull this one. I started it on line, gave it enough speed, and just as my father would have, rolled it dead in the heart for one hell of a par if I don’t say so myself!
Exceptional Golf at Lost Farm
Perhaps I was too excited about the first couple of holes and put too much pressure on myself. After all, playing courses like Lost Farm is the reason why we left everything behind a few years ago to travel the world and play golf. And, since it was my father’s birthday, thoughts of our rounds together flooded in.
After scribbling an X on my scorecard on the opening hole, and butchering the next hole, I settled down. I relaxed and stayed more in the moment. Amazed with the arsenal of towering dunes surrounding me, I slowed down, focused, and began finding more fairways and hitting more greens. Even though I missed some birdie opportunities, I played especially well on the back nine. The best thing about a 20-hole course is that you can throw out 2 bad holes, right!
We had a fantastic guide in Carl. His knowledge of the golf course, and his stories of playing Australia’s top 100, kept us captivated. He was able to keep us on the straight and narrow, which I can assure you is no easy task.
Lost Farm was exceptional and was equal in the quality of golf of its sister course next door. The routing at Lost Farm has more turns than the Dunes course, which plays more of an out and in.
The beauty of links golf is that there are always so many ways to play a single shot. And Lost Farm is no exception. Knockdown, bump and run, high fades, low draws, everything is possible. The only confinement here is the limit of your creativity.
So, when you make it to Lost Farm, just take a few deep breaths, and let your imagination run wild. I know my father would have!