Barnbougle lost farm - 17 POINTS
When Tom Doak and Michael Clayton’s Barnbougle Dunes opened in 2004, it put itself firmly on the golf course map as a wonderful destination. However, it would be fair to say that for most people, this is a long way to come for one round of golf and so owner Richard Sattler enlisted the help of one of the game’s best, Bill Coore, to build a second course on this fabulous land. Lost Farm was opened in 2010.
For some, the original Dunes course was a little too tough and challenging and the brief for Lost Farm was to be a touch more accessible, a little more forgiving. They have certainly succeeded.
What immediately strikes you about the course is the sheer width of the fairways. The par 5 1st is breathtakingly wide - there must be 100 yards from side to side - and this is not the only hole on the course you will find this. However, if you miss the fairway (and we did sit in the sports bar and watch several golfers do just that) then you are dead. This is the case on virtually every hole as the rough is like a wall of grass surrounding the whole course. Because of that, what is known as ‘The Irish Drop’ is played - where you take a lateral drop from the rough, with a one shot penalty.
At Ocean Dunes this really annoyed me. Here it was of little consequence. Because the course is so wide, you really have to be wild to be punished by the rough and the greens have great run-off areas to help you before you get to the thick stuff.
As you would expect from a Bill Coore course there are many glorious features to enjoy. Around the greens the best route to the pin is rarely the most direct one, and we were greatly benefited from having caddies to show us some of the lines.
Without a doubt this is a course that will unfold itself on multiple plays. When I suggested on Twitter that the Barnbougles Dunes course was some way ahead of this in terms of quality I was castigated by some. Michael Clayton said he would split a notional 10 rounds 50:50, saying that Lost Farm copes better in higher winds due to the significant variety in direction that the land allows.
One unusual feature of the course is that there are 20 holes on the scorecard. There is both a 13a and 18a - two short par 3s. Apparently Bill Coore had them as potentials and the owner liked them so much he suggested the were included. Personally, I’m not sure either added a huge amount to the experience and while they were good holes they did seem a little disruptive to the flow of the scorecard and the course. Once again, I’m sure some others will disagree!
The turf itself ran fast, and the greens very true, even if the ground didn’t play or run quite as linksy as next door’s Barnbougle Dunes. While the dunes are high, the land is flatter than the adjoining course. There are also far fewer memorable holes. I can remember every hole at the Dunes and will for some time. While there are some memorable holes at Lost Farm for sure, remembering all 18 is more of a struggle.
There is much to like about the course. The par 3s are a real strength - and you are generally going in with a short club to keep it fun. Do try and keep out of the bunkers though. The sand on both courses just seems to go down forever and at times it felt like I was sinking, which is not conducive to getting the ball out!
It’s almost impossible not to constantly compare the two courses and if you come to the resort at Barnbougle Dunes you would absolutely want to play them both. Who would give up the option of playing a Bill Coore course? Originally we had booked 2 rounds here and 1 at the Dunes. However, after coming off here we immediately switched our second round at Lost Farm to the Dunes.
The caddies confirmed what Twitter told us, that many considered Lost Farm the better golf course. They said this was especially the case with higher handicappers, who benefited from the width and enjoyed it a little more. I can see why that may be the case, however Barnbougle Dunes is not a tight course either.
This was a really good course and I rate it very highly. But its next door neighbour is one of the very best in the world and this doesn’t quite hit those heights.
BOOKING THE COURSE
The whole resort at Barnbougle is set up for visitors and it was the easiest course to book on the whole trip. You can see on the website here what times are available and simply book them online, along with accommodation, caddies and anything else you need. The green fee is astoundingly good value at $130 for a round and $200 for an all day play on the estate. This must be one of the very best value tee times in world golf.
We stayed on the grounds, although you could stay in nearby Bridport and travel in daily. The nearest airport is Launceston (about 1 ½ hours away) although we arranged on a charter flight which arrives on the property itself - a 5 minute transfer from either course.
When it comes to accommodation on the property you have two options - the hotel rooms on Lost Farm or little lodges on Barnbougle Dunes. We chose Lost Farm as this is also the site of the restaurant and sports bar.
Apparently Bandon Dunes serves as the model for what they have done here. Don’t expect 5 star luxury, it is a little more rustic than that. The rooms are large and the beds comfortable but Gleneagles this is not. The food in the restaurant was fine (a table of 50 pensioners from Bridport on a night out livened things up on the table next to us) and the sports bar downstairs may look a little like a student union but serves a good beer and the staff were friendly.
The restaurant at the Barnbougle Dunes clubhouse was a little more upmarket and the bar a bit more refined.
No-one comes here for anything but the golf though, and it would be pretty dull if they did, Apart from the spa onsite there’s probably not a lot else to do. Ideally I think you would want to play each course twice as both have much to discover after the first playing.
For more details of our trip you can check out my blog post here.