Tasmania hot new locale for golf

Barnbougle Dunes awoke most everyone in golf to the ample natural richness of Tasmania. And now, not surprisingly, developers are beginning to stake claims on the state’s remote, distant islands. Just months ago, an Australian golf construction company announced plans to build a Ross Perrett-designed course on King Island’s northern coast. 

“What attracted us,” Andrew Purchase of Turnpoint Group told a local newspaper, “was how powerful the land is. It’s very dramatic. We think it’s got world-class golf course written all over it.”

Now comes word that Mat Goggin, an Australian golf pro, aims to build a world-class “minimalist” layout on Seven Mile Beach, a government-owned waterfront expanse just east of Hobart, his home town, on Tasmania’s main island. Goggin has commissioned Sandringham, Victoria-based Mike Clayton, the co-designer (with Tom Doak) of Barnbougle Dunes, to design an 18-hole course for the property, and possibly a second course as well.

“We believe we can build a championship course at Seven Mile Beach that could be rated in the top five courses in Australia from day one,” Clayton recently told the Mercury.

Golf Preserve at Seven Mile Beach won’t be a pure links, however. Because the property is part heathland and part linksland, news reports say that Goggin plans to build “a hybrid-style course” that could be “the first of its kind in Australia.”

What’s more, the first shovel isn’t likely to go into the ground anytime soon. The state of Tasmania’s government has given the Mat Goggin Foundation two years to complete a master plan for the 750-acre property. To win approvals and permits, the master plan will need to satisfy not just local and state officials but the area’s environmentalists and conservationists, some of whom are already objecting to the proposal.

It’s also worth noting that last year Clayton formed a design partnership with Geoff Ogilvy, another Australian golf pro. Ogilvy hasn’t been publicly associated with the Seven Mile Beach project, but he was present at the press conference that announced it and could end up co-designing the course.

When Barnbougle Dunes opened, in 2004, Tasmania didn’t have a course ranked in Australia’s top 50. But by 2015, Clayton believes, the state could have as many as six of the nation’s top-20 tracks.

Fulfilling such a prediction is a tall order, but Tasmania is already well on its way.

Barnbougle Dunes, located in Bridport on the main island’s northeastern coast, has long had a place among Australia’s elite courses, and last year its owners, a group led by Richard Sattler, opened another critics’ favorite, the Bill Coore-designed Lost Farm track. Michael Keiser, the developer of Bandon Dunes resort in Oregon and a partner in Barnbougle Dunes, has said that Lost Farm “could well be the best course since Augusta National.” Coore has also been inked to design a par-3 track for the property, and a fourth course may be in the works.

Also in planning is the aforementioned course on King Island, which will emerge on a sandy, coastal site that seems made to order for golf. And more courses appear to be on the way, as the Mercury reports that “there are several other new courses planned for the East Coast and southern Tasmania.”

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com.

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