Taming the Tasmanian devil of golf trips

Golf trips can take you to some weird and wonderful places on planet earth. Places where you may question what business in the world a golf course even has being where it is …. Tasmania is one of those places.

There are more than 65 courses in Tasmania but sitting at the top of this list are 4 courses. These 4 offer world-class golf surroundings and competitive pricing, welcoming hospitality, and an overall experience that could be second to none in Australia and potentially the world.

The evolution in Tasmanian golf all started with Barnbougle Dunes back in 2004. Built on an old potato farm site, designers Tom Doak and Mike Clayton created an instant masterpiece. Barnbougle Dunes was then followed up by Lost Farm, a Coore and Crenshaw design that made for a true golf adventure. Both courses appear on many of the world’s top 50 or 100-course lists, and whilst I am not a great enough golfer to tell you why each course is amazing, I know enough about golf to say I have thoroughly enjoyed each of my trips to Barnbougle. The golf courses are very playable on a good day and brutally tough when the wind blows…. but they are always fun!

A new short course has recently been added – also a Coore & Crenshaw design. It’s set to open in 2021, which is sure to add to the overall enjoyment of a Barnbougle visit.

On top of the courses themselves, what stands out to me most about Barnbougle is just how easy they make everything for golfers. The atmosphere is laid back, and while the resort has everything you need, it exhibits a generally understated charm that does not try to make the whole setup something it is not.

Golf is very well priced, with all-day golf only around AUD 150 only—an absolute steal for 36 holes or more. The accommodation on site is just perfect for what avid golfers need. Simple cabins perfect for twosomes or foursomes through to more luxury accommodation for those that require it. And the pub at Lost Farm is like nothing I’ve seen at any golf course around the world. Not a clubhouse, not a restaurant, but an actual pub right off the 20th hole on Lost Farm (yes, 20th hole …. Which is a story in itself). One of the genuine highlights of my golf life was sitting in the pub with a group of 8 guys cooking our own BBQ with the supplied meat pack after 40 holes in one day. A simple pleasure after a perfect day.

For some non-golfers or those slightly less passionate about the game, the drawbacks to the resort could be that it is not easy to get to. Tasmania is already off the beaten path somewhat. The Resort is either a 3 hour plus drive from Hobart or a 1-hour drive from Launceston, but Barnbougle provides easy transport options to make the whole experience as easy as it can be (and as I mention later on, you can land a plane right next to the fairways).

Another small issue could be that for non-golfers, there is not a tonne to do other than access the spa. But on reflection, that is part of the charm of Barnbougle. It’s not trying to be a resort offering all sorts of crazy adventures. It’s a simple but perfect golfing adventure.

Things start to get even more interesting with Barnbougle, and Tasmania golf, in general, is when you take time to zone in on where King Island is located on that map. King Island is a small island approximately halfway between Tasmania and Melbourne. With a population of 1700, you could politely say King Island is in the middle of nowhere … but not if you are a golfer.

King Island is now home to two stunning golf courses, which, comparably, make Barnbougle look like it is an urban metropolis. 

When you stand on King Island’s first world-renowned golf course, Cape Wickham, it is impossible not to wonder how anyone would have the conviction, and a tinge of madness, to put what I believe to be one of the worlds best golf courses just where they did.

Completed in 2015, Cape Wickham had me lost for words when I first visited. No driving range, no clubhouse (other than a temporary tent), and one staff member politely accepting our green fees. Yet, once we began our journey, a course that offers holes and shots possible unique to any other course going. Playing your 2nd shot on the 18th right on the beach is a sight you must see with your own eyes.

Much like Barnbougle, Cape Wickham now has some simple accommodation on site, but also, like Barnbougle, doesn’t go if you don’t like golf. The food is great but simple. The accommodation is perfect for what it needs to do. But don’t spend a minute longer than you need to inside either of these facilities. Get golfing. This is exactly what we did on our first visit, playing 72 holes over 2 days and walking the lot.

If not for Cape Wickham, the second globally ranked course on King Island, Ocean Dunes, may receive more recognition than it does. A fantastic experience in its own right, Ocean Dunes has a plethora of holes running parallel to the ocean and some of the more unique holes between all 4 courses.

In fairness to Ocean Dunes, it was the last round of a long golf trip on both my trips to the course. And for that reason, we may not have been as amazed as we would have been if it was the first course of our trip. But without doubt, the course is a must-play and makes the trip to King Island all the more worthwhile.

The main issue with King Island golf is that it is just not that easy to get to either. Commercial flights run from Melbourne and Tasmania, but if you are not a fan of small planes, you may wish to head to another course.

The other alternative for travel is to charter a private plane. My favorite golf trip of all time involved an 8-seater charger between Melbourne, Barnbougle, and King Island. The option of a private charter was both surprisingly affordable and allowed us complete control of our travel times. As mentioned above, a private plane also allows you to land right next to the course at Barnbougle, saving valuable time for more golf.

In summary, Tasmania is a must-do golf trip once in your lifetime. With a bit of time and research, the whole adventure can be very affordable. I strongly suggest a full day on each course to take advantage of the all-day golf pricing…. After all, what else are you going to do?

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