Tasmania’s relationship with golf has been as long as a good par-five hole.
Homesick Scots carved Australia’s first golf course through farmland in Bothwell in the 1830s. It may even have been the first golf course outside of Scotland.
It has been in recent years, however, that Tasmania has well and truly emerged as a prime golfing destination. A series of links-style courses along the edge of Bass Strait and King Island have captured the global golfing world’s attention, with two courses – Barnbougle Dunes and Cape Wickham – rated among the best 100 in the world by Golf Magazine.
Even better, all these world-class courses are open to everyone to play.
Look around and you’ll find more than 80 golf courses dotted around the state. Here are a few favourites.
Cape Wickham Golf Links
Located on the rugged northern tip of King Island, with a rare and dramatic mix of coastal holes, ocean-side Cape Wickham Golf Links ranks among the world’s best golf courses. Its holes are positioned, Turnberry-style, around a lighthouse (the tallest in Australia) and all lean gently towards Bass Strait, creating distracting views on every hole – the greens are positioned away from the ocean to deliberately give golfers’ senses a rest. The 11th hole is almost in the sea, and the 18th is directly above a beach. Cape Wickham also has 16 villa-style rooms, and a clubhouse restaurant focused on local produce.
Tasmania’s emergence onto the world golfing stage began in 2004 when Bridport farmer Richard Sattler built Barnbougle Dunes on a sandy coastal patch of his 5200ha farm that was unsuited to farming, but seemed like a decent spot for a golf course.
The links course has an often-blustery layout that meanders over and between massive coastal dunes, with sensational views. The 18-hole championship layout is testing enough to challenge gifted golfers, yet fair enough to be enjoyed by the average player. And if the round isn’t going well, just look at that view again.
Golf Australia rated Barnbougle Dunes as Australia’s third-best golf course in 2022.
Barnbougle has a range of accommodation and dining options, as well as a day spa.
Barnbougle Lost Farm
Adjacent to Barnbougle Dunes, the sister course of Barnbougle Lost Farm resembles some of the most dramatic British Open courses, with spectacular holes that wind along the Bass Strait coast and turn inland.
Located on the opposite bank of the Forester River to the Dunes, Lost Farm is considered by many to be its equal – Golf Australia ranked it as the No 4 course in Australia. The 20-hole course has magical greens that play hide and seek among the dunes. The fairways are wide, the greens are undulating, and the challenge is unrelenting.
Barnbougle’s newest course, opened in 2021, is a trimmed-down affair, featuring 14 holes, 12 of which are par threes (with two par fours). Set on the tall dunes between Lost Farm’s front and back nines, it offers a quick Barnbougle taster – a round might take only 90min – with elevated views over the Lost Farm course and Anderson Bay.
Ocean Dunes Golf Course
Fashioned after Scotland’s great links courses, and fronting the Southern Ocean on King Island’s west coast, Ocean Dunes hugs a spectacular coastline with endless ocean views and the bump’n’run of undulating fairways. With heroic tee shots and rolling greens along its 2km of wild coastal dunes, it offers one memorable hole after another. One magazine has described it as resembling “extreme golf, like a wild rollercoaster ride in an amusement park”.
One of Tasmania’s most prestigious properties – the ancestral home of Sir Richard Dry, the state’s first Tasmanian-born premier – Quamby Estate has a groomed nine-hole course lined with mature oak trees and elms and with views to Ben Lomond and the Great Western Tiers. The 576m eighth hole is the longest par five in Tasmania. The estate operates as a luxury lodge with 10 rooms and an in-house restaurant.
Australia’s oldest golf course, laid out by the pioneering Reid family in the 1830s, is nearing its 200th birthday. Six holes that had been lost over the years have recently been restored, which also makes Ratho Farm the newest 18-hole links course in Tasmania. Skirt the resident sheep busy maintaining the fairways, and perhaps try the “full hickory experience”, playing a round in an old-fashioned golf jacket and plaid hat. The Australasian Golf Museum, which delves deep into Ratho Farm’s story, is just down the road in Bothwell.
Tasman Golf Club
Stretching atop cliffs at Point Puer, a small peninsula at Port Arthur, the nine-hole course at Tasman Golf Club delivers views of Port Arthur and the rugged coast of Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula. It features one of the world’s most spectacular par-three holes – the fairway is a chasm into the ocean, with the tiny green resting atop the vertical sea cliff opposite.