Entries Tagged as 'Tasmania'

Barnbougle Dunes

It was on my list. All that was needed was the opportunity. On the long weekend in July I grabbed my chance. Now I need to find another opportunity. Barnbougle Dunes demands another look.

Stand on the lookout adjacent the club house and the complusion to play is hard to avoid.

Stand on any of the tees and the fairway invites your presence.

Make sure you play down the fairway....

Stand on the fairway and the swales challenge your skills.

112 metres - miss and you lose!

Don't miss this green!

Stand over the putt and technique and confidence are tested.

There are no easy putts

A spectacular course that demands great golf to score well. One visit is not enough – and a second course opens in a few months.

A view at the new course - opening late 2010

The next challenge - coming soon!

In the words of Arnie Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”.


One golfing goal for 2010 has been achieved. Today I played Ratho Golf course, the oldest course in Australia.

Located just outside Bothwell, Tasmania, the course surrounds a working farm. New holes have been added and the greens and bunkers are not original, but the course has been on the same piece of land since 1822. With six new holes added (with plans for a further three to complete the eighteen) the course well grassed, well cared for, and offers a good variety for a short course, and a number of interesting – perhaps even novel – challenges.

Too much trouble to go for the green off the tee

Risk is high, reward is low at the 6th

The first few holes are relatively flat and straight with a drainage channel crossing the second, fourth and seventh.  The short 260 metre fourth is a dogleg right with a blind landing area. Rough left and right means the wise choice is to lay up and rely on a 120 metre approach. The risk factor is high here, and the reward is low.

Hole 6 is a shorter  par 4, just 220 metres! The tee shot is over the crest of a hill and a drain/channel snakes across the fairway dividing it neatly into three sections. Again discretion is called for, and I chose an 8 iron for safety. Even though it was a wise choice poor execution on my next two shots left me a 7 metre putt for par. It didn’t drop.

The six new holes include some remarkable challenges and one excellent par 3, the 180 metres 11th.   Ten starts near the road and requires a tee shot over a mustering yard. The green, some 500 metres from the tee, sits precariously on the edge of the  river. It does not pay to hit a long wedge to this green, but a short wedge means the putt must traverse a small valley to get into the hole.  A few paces from this green is the 11th tee. The river is just metres away for the entire length of this long par 3, a danger for slicers, while too far left will leave the ball in deep rough.

View from 15th tee at Ratho

Make sure you clear the hedgerow - and watch the sheep around the green!

On 13 and 15 a hedgerow stands between tee and green, and a poor tee shot can be disastrous. On the 197 metre 15th sheep provide a further hazard. While local rules allow a replay if the ball hits a sheep it is hard to see the contacat through the hedgerow!

The Ratho course does not make the top 100 courses in Australia, and never will. As a keen golfer it was good to play on the oldest course in Australia (and the third oldest in the world).  How do I rate the experience? On my scoring, just OK. For enjoyment and interest – Very Good.

If you are a golfer, and are in Tassie, make sure you visit Bothwell and play the oldest golf course in Australia.  While in Bothwell, take the time to visit the Australian Golf  Museum as well.    For an all up cost of $20 it is great value and affordable golf.

My statistics:

FIR: 8/11  = 72% GIR: 10/18 =  55%  Putts: 29 Score: 71  (4 over) 6 birdies, 6 bogeys, 1 triple bogey!

St Helens Golf Club – Tasmania

St Helens GC Mural

Club House Mural

When family or friends come to visit golf takes second place.

It did not stop a quick visit to St Helens Golf Club during a drive up the magnificent east coast of Tasmania. Nestled in a valley back from the coast the course is short, and relatively flat, but includes some interesting holes.


Ninth green

One step forward?

A visit to a different course was not a good thing for my handicap, but was a good way to spend the morning.  “Woodrising” a.k.a. Devonport Golf Club was my home course over 20 years ago, and it was good to return to the course on the weekend. While the course has not changed a great deal I was impressed with the quality of the greens. Fast and true,  they were well prepared for my visit and a delight to play on. The visitors from clubs around Tassie who were visiting for the Clarment Shield were fortunate that their competition coincided with my visit!

So how was the round?   12 over the card doesn’t sound too great, especially when it is seven over the handicap you are on and 10 over the one you are working for, and adds .1 to the actual handicap.

FIR: 14%         GIR: 39%       Putts:35 or 1.944 per green

These are not impressive, and if we add in some poor chips and bad bunker play the overall result was bad news.

Yet I came away happy that progress is being made. Only three drives were in difficult positions, the rest were within a few metres of the fairway. Most were straight and close to the linbe I chose.  My game fell away at the next hurdle, approaches to the green.

On reflection I concentrated hard on my set up and swing off the tee, but had been hitting my iron so straight and well that there was little thought about swing and more about result. On most holes I was within range of the green with my second shot, yet only hit 39% of the greens. 7 of my 18 shots to the green went right.  There is one area to work on. Around the greens is another. Perhaps it was the pace of the greens after two weeks on recently scarified putting surfaces but on Saturday my short game was not up top the mark.

Hope remains. The driving has shown great steps forward, the next step is to get the rest of the game up to the mark.

State of Play

My first competition round in three weeks was OK.  The handicap remains at 4.6 after a 78. 

The Club

%th GreenThe decision to join Royal Hobart was fairly clear. Tasmania is a more spectacular course, and there was some attraction to that club. While the costs are comparable the major factor in my choice was the differnece in practice facilities. The range at Tasmania is a “pro balls only” range. There is a  similar area at the Royal, but they also offer alternative areas including a short game range, and a chipping green.   Currently Royal Hobart is ranked in the top 50 public access courses in Australia, while Tasmania makes the next 50. Reports on the condition of the course confirm that ranking.  

The  Round

My first round was OK, marred by one three putt at 18, a bunker to bunker double bogey on 14, and some bad thinking  on my final hole, the 9th.   Aspects that I continue to work on are Driving (too many drives just off the fairway), approaches between 120 and 50 metres, and putting.  34 putts is at least 4 too many!

Subtle slopes on the greens continue to confuse, and increased familiarity with the course can only help in the green reading process. Then I will need to get the putts on line!    


Practice this week….not really. A few one hand swings indoors,  nine holes Friday night, and nine holes at Richmond Valley Course on the previous weekend.  More intentional practice and a chat to the pro are on the agenda for this week.

Claremont GC

Claremont 10th GreenLocated on a point jutting out into the Derwent River Claremont Golf Course is a pleasant and interesting layout.   The views are great and the terrain is challenging at times, but there is nowhere for the club to expand or extend.  They have used every metre of their land to get to a par 71,  5700 metre layout.

The course was well maintained, and the fairways in generally good condition.  A dam between the 8th and 13th fairways has increased the challenge of these holes even though it is not aesthetically pleasing. This is one of the unavoidable costs of course maintenance in drought years.

The course:

A lack of length was offset by the the number of doglegs, and at time the significant slope of the fairways. Water comes into play on four holes, and another eight are close enough to the Derwent for it to be a factor in the mind of a competent golfer.  The highest point of the course is also a focus with two holes (10 &13) having steep uphill approaches, while the 9th requires a tee shot over the old quarry/dam down to the green.   The par 5’s are short, and mostly reachable in two (with a good drive and gentle breezes).   While generally a satisfying course to play purists will find the blind tee shot on 3 and the location of the 12th tee somewhat quirky.

The practice facilities:

When space is an issue practice facilities are not a priority. A short (150 metre) area is available for warm ups,   and the putting green is surrounded by enough area for a little bit of chipping and putting practice – more putting than chipping.

Cost and accessibility:

Claremont 1st green

Claremont 1st

This is the nearest and cheapest 18 hole course to my home. It is just ten kilometres away (15 minutes maximum travel time), and is the only eighteen hole suburband course north of the city.

Additional Benefits:

A friendly and helpful group of locals welcomed me to the course and offered some basic indications of the shape of the  blind holes.  They were also open to discussing the alternatives.

With reasonable green fees and close proximity to my home it may not become my home course but could get a visit or two when golfing guests come from the mainland.

Overall: A good experience that sits favourably with courses of comparable cost around Melbourne.

Search for a golf club

A few days in Hobart has been enough to guage the lie of the land – hilly. The next question to be answered is where to play golf.

There are four 18 hole courses in Hobart  and they are all within 20-25 minutes. Claremont Golf Club is the closest and tomorrow morning I tee off on my first round at the course as part of my initial assessment process.  The alternatives are a little further away and a little more expensive, although not exorbitant in their fees. I will come to them in due course.

And so to the challenge of choosing a new golf club.  The factors involved are:

  • cost
  • accessibility
  • quality of course
  • practice facilities
  • additional benefits of membership

Stay tuned for an update…