Sunday, 26 December 2010

Lost Farms

One of the holes that I saw in Tasmania (do not republish this image!)

I was very lucky to be given a tour of Lost Farms yesterday. I had made arrangements through Bill Coore after he had called me completely out of the blue last week to congratulate me on partnering up with Mike Weir. Bill finished the conversation by saying, “Now Ian, I want to here your thoughts on the course and I want you to be critical.”
The dunes land at Lost Farms is even more dramatic than Barnbougle Dunes. The dunes are much bigger more varied, and feature more room between, which Bill said gave him a lot more latitude than Tom. The central point of the golf course is a dune that is about 100 feet high and massive in scale. The clubhouse will be hidden into a side of it, but it sounds like the spa that will eventually be built may be a little more visible.
The course opens on the flattest portion of the site with a series of very low profile courses with only the subtlest of undulation. After driving into the site and seeing the massive dunes, it’s unexpected that he begins in this manner. The first few holes are lay of the land and decidedly flat. The first taste of what is t come time is the 3rd, a wonderful short par four that will draw players into trying to drive the green when a lay-up is the much more prudent play. This sets up the 4th, a mid-length par three that plays out to a point that overlooks the river, the ocean and Barnbougle Dunes beyond.
The 5th is the first “holy crap” moment where you can see the green against the river on the right, but your play is left and over the shoulder of a massive seventy foot dune on the right that blocks the direct route to the green. The fairway plays around the massive dune line on the right through a beautiful valley of undulating land. The green is a monster that rolls and bucks in all directions but sits wonderfully up into a series of dunes.
The 6th is mid-length par three back to the flats and was actually a change in the routing to create a better 8th hole. The 7th plays over or around a central feature reminiscent of Cruden Bays’ 17th (but much larger in width). This hole is one of my favourites of the bunch finishing with a green set in a large bowl featuring a series of exposed craters of sand beyond. The 8th is just as great with play up and through the dunes leading all the way to wonderful plateau green set into another natural bowl surrounded by more exposed sand banks beyond. The 9th plays through a tighter valley than the last two holes, which offers a lovely contrast, as it heads back into the major central dune.
The back nine begins with a tee shot out a narrow chute through the dunes from an elevate tee with the hole playing between two huge dune lines and down to a green set on a subtle but effective plateau on the left. The 11th is an up and over type hole that swings right and plays to a slight plateau green. The 12th swings back around the dunes and plays over very flat terrain on the way to a low profile green.
The 13th returns up a deep valley set between two huge dune lines with the green set at the end of the valley but right on grade. The 14th then plays off the major dune and out directly at the sea across a very rumpled fairway running out to a plateau green in the distance. The 15th is a long three playing between the massive main dune and the sea. The 16th returns to the flat land shared with the opening hole. The 17th is a strong uphill par three set into a natural bowl up in the hill. The final hole is an elevated tee shot of the coastal dune down into rumpled land behind and back up into a low bench against that dune which reminds me of the finisher at Seminole.
The course is fascination for the fact that Bill has selected to route holes using flat land as much as the wild terrain. In fact he has made great pains to mix the two up, so that there are breaks between the most dramatic spots. It reminds me of the roller coaster analogy that I use often. It can’t all be thrills. To get the maximum sensation there must be breaks in the action so the brain can recover and be ready to fully appreciate the next thrill.
I really enjoyed what I saw and it will be pretty hard to criticize much of anything that I saw that day. I think my call to Bill will be to congratulate him on another great course.

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