Make no mistake, if you are undecided where to go for your next golfing holiday or extended weekend away with a group of friends, put Tasmania at the top of your list.
Tasmania is a great place to visit and play golf, a fact that was rewarded at the 2015 International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) awards when Tasmania was named the ‘Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year’– an award voted on by more than 200 of the world’s leading golf travel journalists from across the planet.
Tasmania, where any golfer can play Top-100 world-ranked courses, snared the award in front of 60 other nominated destinations from around the world, with judges basing their decision on the extent of which the golfing destination is undiscovered, attractiveness of the region and courses, speed of play, climate and accessibility.
You had better hurry though, because the secret is out. And, if you’re still not convinced, here are 14 reasons to book your trip ASAP.
1. KING ISLAND WONDERS
The opening of Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes a handful of years ago has put King Island on the world golfing map.
Any golfer who has ever experienced hot golf destinations like California’s Monterrey Peninsula, Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast, the south west of Ireland or the great Scottish links, will be impressed by these wonder courses.
Cape Wickham (pictured above) has been entrenched in the top-five ranked courses in Australia since it opened and is one of the country’s most photographed layouts.
Designed by American Mike DeVries in collaboration with Darius Oliver, Cape Wickham easily realises the great expectations of what was anticipated from such a wonderful piece of golfing land on the island’s north-west tip.
It is an outstanding routing, which features eight holes set right alongside the jagged coastline and another two where any approach shot is played toward an ocean backdrop. You can see Bass Strait from every hole. Some holes sit high above the sea, on others you can almost feel the sea spray as you peg your ball on the tee.
Ocean Dunes, located just north of Currie and less than five minutes’ drive from King Island airport, covers dramatic golfing terrain with fairways that roll and weave between sand dunes, with several holes laid alongside its two-kilometre stretch of ocean frontage.
Designed by Graeme Grant, the spectacular layout has plenty of highlights but one of the most memorable and talked about holes is the 130-metre par-3 4th hole, which is played across an ocean inlet with rocky edges on both sides of the water. The tee is perched just above the waves, while the expansive putting surface is very wide and features a bunker cut into the middle of the front edge.
And don’t forget the isle’s original layout – the King Island Golf & Bowling Club, which is a superb nine-hole seaside course just south of Currie’s main street that was recently named one of the best nine-hole or ‘short’ courses in the world by an American golf magazine.
No golfing trip to Tasmania is complete without a visit to Barnbougle and its three courses – Dunes, Lost Farm and the new short course, Bougle Run.
Barnbougle Dunes put Tasmania on the international golfing map when it opened for play in 2004 and was immediately ranked one of the best courses in Australia.
Located near the seaside town of Bridport, about 70 minutes’ drive north east of Launceston, Barnbougle Dunes was designed by acclaimed American architect Tom Doak in collaboration with Mike Clayton. It is a brilliant layout that encapsulates all that is fun and challenging about links golf.
No golfer who tees it up at Barnbougle Dunes should go home without playing Lost Farm or Bougle Run.
Lost Farm opened in 2010 and is the perfect complement to the Dunes layout.
While both offer their own spectacular golfing attributes and visually striking memories, a poll of golfers who have played both would probably find the votes almost split down the middle as to which course was their favourite.
Where Dunes offers one visually dramatic hole after another, the Bill Coore-designed Lost Farm combines the spectacular with holes that place the highest possible value on good strategy and shot execution from tee-to-green.
Lost Farm’s quality has been vindicated many times in its short history with high rankings here and abroad.
Bougle Run is a spectacular 14-hole short course created by Coore with two par-4s and 12 par-3s laid out across dramatic sand dunes. It is a perfect fit for its surrounds, with wildly interesting greens and deep bunkers providing plenty of challenges and heaps of fun.
3. FOOD, GLORIOUS, FOOD
Tasmania has established a widely held reputation for its fine food, using high quality fresh produce created from its rich soil, pure air and clean waters.
Awesome seafood, like its renowned scallops and lobsters, to succulent oysters are a must try for any visitor to Tasmania.
Any golfer heading to Barnbougle or King Island should do their tastebuds a favour and visit the local bakery.
Bridport’s Sugar and Spice bakery, about five minutes’ drive from Barnbougle, is outstanding with great hand-made pies and a selection of pastry favourites. Likewise, the King Island Bakehouse, in the main street of Currie, is legendary for its cakes and pies (especially its lobster pies) made fresh on the premises every day. Choosing between a pie or irresistible cream bun or chocolate éclair might be a harder decision than any club selection out on the course.
4. GO BY SEA
Tasmania has never been easier, or more comfortable, to get to. While most will fly to Tassie, you can also drive your car onto the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne and sit back and relax for a cruise across Bass Strait.
Both ships were fully refurbished a few years ago with all passenger decks, including accommodation cabins, being remodelled.
There are three bars and a restaurant area as well as luxurious additions including two cinemas and a lounge area with comfortable recliners, equipped with individual reading lights, tray table and USB port.