4th Hole - a reachable short par 4
As you approach the Bridport, you can see the emergence of a huge dune line which immediately makes you think of Scotland. The resemblance is so uncanny that you have to look away to see the native vegetation to remind you that this is not Scotland but Australia.
The golf course is a tale of two courses. The opening nine begins with a couple of simpler holes played through the outer dunes before it plunges you deep into the interior of some very large dune lines. The remaining seven holes are all set in between the dunes, often starting up top before plunging into the interior. Tom Doak has managed to squeeze a series of excellent holes through this very tight piece of dunes land and really got just about everything he could from this stretch. The stretch from 4 to 8 is outstanding.
The 6th Hole between the dunes
The highlight for me was the 4th hole, a short par four that gives you the option of playing short and approaching blind, playing left and having a receptive bowl to greet your approach or a direct line over an incredibly deep bunker right at the green. The options are clear and the decision is primarily based on the wind direction. It’s one of the world’s greatest par fours and in my opinion my favourite hole Tom has built.
The back nine is far more open and instead of playing between the dunes, Tom used the opportunity to run the holes up and over the dunes. The contrast is quite dramatic, but at the same time quite enjoyable. Some of the latter holes begin to get tighter to dune lines and the views begin to become a little more contained, but generally you can see most of the nine from each tee.
The 13th and it's wild green
The highlights for me are the 13th a mid-length par three to one of the wildest greens I have ever seen, where putting is clearly an adventure if you find the wrong section. The hole made me smile and I admire the boys for getting out on the fringe on this one. Another gem is the 15th where you can either hug the dune line for the ideal line into the green, or play well left and face a much tougher iron in. I love a hole where the ideal line is so tight and challenging, yet the average guy can bail and face the problems of playing too safe. The 17th follows a similar idea but everything is set down in the dunes one last time offering a nice contrast to the 15th. In this case you must play a solid tee shot into some wonderfully undulating terrain.
I don’t think a trip to Australia would be complete without making a stop at Barnbougle Dunes. The routing is clever, the greens are spectacular, the restraint to use lots of short grass and leave the bunkering to be the punctuation marks is admirable. This is definitely one of the world’s great courses. When you consider that Lost Farms is being built next door (I’ll talk about that next), this has become a must see destination for any serious golfer.