The Takeaway: The original course at Barnbougle, Tom Doak’s Dunes track put Tasmania on the golfing map and is highlighted by a coastal location featuring some world class holes. Like Bandon Dunes, there is great debate on which course is best at Barnbougle, but what isn’t up for debate is the resort’s worthiness as one of the finest golf destinations in the world. Grade A-
Designer: Tom Doak in 2004
Cost: $109 AUD - $155 AUD (Pull cart is $10 AUD) Click for current rates
Phone Number: 61 3 6356 0094
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Barnbougle (Dunes)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 425 Waterhouse Rd, Bridport, Tasmania 7262
Accolades: Ranked 10th in Australia by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Routed along the windswept coastal dunes of northeast Tasmania, Barnbougle is another Mike Keiser inspired destination that golfers drool over. The first of two courses to open at the resort, Dunes was crafted by Tom Doak and put Barnbougle on the Oz Tria map of Melbourne, King Island, and Tasmania. Like all Keiser inspired projects, Barnbougle has onsite accommodations, walking only courses, and minimalist designs that inspire buddies golf trips on firm and fast conditions. While Dunes is clearly a fantastic golf course well deserving of its many accolades, it isn’t Tom Doak's finest work. The course surprisingly lacks variety compared to his other designs with many of the holes running east and west, which reduces the variety of shots on a windy day, and the number of dogleg right holes (11 out of 14) creates an imbalance in the routing. On the flip side, the greens are brilliant as are the short par fours, both of which pay homage to what golf on Australia’s Sandbelt is all about. The course mostly features mild undulations in the terrain though the stretch from the 3rd hole to the 5th boasts an enjoyable run which uncoincidentally is the best three hole loop on the course. Overall, Barnbougle Dunes is great. It isn’t as good as Doak’s other legendary coastal design, Pacific Dunes on Oregon’s stunning coast, but a great links in the Southern Hemisphere nonetheless.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 7th Hole – 122 Yard Par 3 – Like the 7th hole at Pebble Beach, length is not the feature factor on this attractive one-shotter. What is a factor though are the bunkers, the wind, and the petite green size. This is not a big target to hit and the sloping edges make it even more challenging, which should be expected on a hole this short. The entire left side is flanked by deep bunkers while the back right is protected by a bunker that you want absolutely nothing to do with. The safest miss is short right where players will want to employ a Texas wedge to get the ball close rather than chipping a lofted wedge off the tight lie. It is not uncommon for this hole to be playing directly into a stiff breeze that is coming off the sea in the background. While a head wind can help the ball sit soft, it creates absolute havoc on club selection. This is a testing hole and a pure joy to play.
Best Par 3: 5th Hole – 220 Yards – There aren't enough long par threes with enjoyable designs like the 5th features. Essentially sitting in a punchbowl setting and playing downhill from the tee, the 5th green is inviting to aerial shots aimed straight at the dune behind the putting surface and exactly welcoming to shots that find the ground early on the left side and tumble their way towards the pin. A large bunker in front of the tee box blocks the view of a good portion of the green and it is tough to articulate how enjoyable it is to stripe a shot at the left side of the green, watch it land, and then see it disappear out of view as it works its way into the middle of the green. Is it in the hole? If not, how close? Can I convert the birdie? You just don't get to experience shots like that on courses that don't employ firm and fast conditions.
Best Par 4: 4th Hole – 296 Yards – It is a virtual rite of passage in Australia that your course features at least one driveable par four and Doak comes through with flying colors on this stellar short two-shotter. A series of three bunkers work diagonally across the fairway with the nearest, and largest, bunker sitting 200 yards away on the right side. To drive the green players will need to carry the ball 240+ yards over the bunker on the right or start the ball at the smaller bunkers on the left and feather a cut into the putting surface. The narrow strip of fairway between the bunkers that leads up to the green features a fairly steep slope and won't be quick to invite shots up that are lacking sufficient energy, however it can be helpful for taking some juice off when playing a short runner. Laying up off the tee is always an option but you'll likely be faced with a blind approach shot to a green wedged between bunkers in the front and a wallaby covered hill in the back.
Best Par 5: 14th Hole – 556 Yards – Perhaps one of the weaker attributes of Barnbougle Dunes are the par fives though the 14th stands out as the best among the three. A good drive should clear the seven fairway bunkers unless you are facing a headwind at which point more credence should be given to them. On the second shot the ideal play is up the right side where the fairway banks off the high right side and wraps left to open up the entry to the green. Approach shots left of center will find themselves buried in the deep grass where you can only hope for a good enough lie to advance your third shot onto the green. The incline into the green is long and steady so you need to fly your ball onto the green or play a ground shot with 10% - 20% more juice than usual to get it all the way on top.
Birdie Time: 15th Hole – 351 Yard Par 4 – While the 278 yard 12th might be shorter, the 15th features a clearer strategy compared to the blind tee shot the 12th requires. The Great Forester River on the right isn't in play except for the largest of slices but does deliver some eye candy to the hole. On the tee, players can look straight ahead at the green and set themselves up for an easy wedge shot as long as their drive carries 240 yards to clear the center bunker. If you are feeling at all unconfident, then laying up short of the center bunker offers plenty of fairway to land in and still just a wedge into the green. A drive that is hammered up the left side can clear all of the sand and come to rest in a chipping bowl where you can get aggressive with trying to get your second shot close to the flag. In classic Doak fashion, there are plenty of ½ pars at Barnbougle so you have to take advantage of the short ones in order to have insurance on the long ones.
Bogey Beware: 8th Hole – 488 Yard Par 4 – There are times I think Tom Doak just wants to mess with people that are concerned with their score in relation to par, and two pieces of evidence supporting that claim are the 500 yard par four 13th at St Andrews Beach and this equally punishing two-shotter. If you can manage to keep your tee shot on the narrower left half of the fairway despite the prevailing wind pushing you right, then you have your best chance of reaching this green in regulation. From the more generous right side, which is where the fairway slopes to, you will have a long approach that needs to be all carry in order to avoid the two bunkers fronting the green and to clear the sloping apron leading to the putting surface. Architects will often make the drive and greensite easier to deal with on a hole of this length, but not Tom, he expects your absolute best here and anything less will result in a bogey or worse.