The beauty of Barnbougle courses and the seaside land on which they sit is absolutely stunning.
Defined by the philosophy that the best architected golf courses are shaped by nature, and it's best to leave well enough alone, wind and sand provide undulations and character that highlight the result of when seas meet land.
However, with this amazing location also brings the chance that the area is subject to the elements and wind. However, this rarely stops players from taking their shot to navigate the course... and they can't be blamed given the ocean backdrop and gorgeous layouts.
Each course features a mix of fescue that allows a consistent blend of grass from tee to green. There is little transition in the fairway so this helps support a natural look to the entire layout. Thanks to the the nearby river which separates the two courses, there is always a consistent fresh supply of water which effectively makes the entire complex immune to drought.
The Dunes was the first course to open - in 2004. Designed by Tom Doak and Mike Clayton on a piece of land that was one a potato farm, the architects were provided carte blanche freedom to be as creative as possible. The result was met by immediate recognition throughout the golfing world as a world-class course.
5th, 7th, 13th (Par-3s): Barnbougle Dunes has to boast of some of the most fun and creative par-3s in the world. Comically large natural dunes frame undulating surfaces which allow players to try and place the ball on multilevel greens. These holes just need to be played to be believed.
8th (488 yard, Par-4): As you look forward to making the turn the 8th hole looms. This is a really tough hole! Beginning from an elevated tee position you look upon a split fairway. Options include to the left what looks to be a thin patch of grass versus a much more friendly (read: wide) shot to the right. True to golf's risk/reward tradeoff, the harder drive will produce a short approach while bailing out to the right on the drive will reward you with a long approach uphill to the pin. Bunkers the size of Nebraska are short of the green.
17th (437 yard, Par-4) Similar to finishing the front nine with the challenge at the 8th, as you finish the back nine at the Dunes an interesting drive on 17. Depending on the wind conditions the tees will be set up as close as 283 yards. If playing from the most difficult boxes it will as far back as 400 yds! The drive on this hole needs to carry long rough to a somewhat thin fairway as it is flanked dunes and the beach. Fairway bunkers on the rightside also will come into play when the wind is not as much of a factor. If placed nicely the second will be an approach to a slightly raised green.
This success, and the availability of additional land, led to the second course on the property: Lost Farm. Designed by Ben Crenshaw's firm in 2010(actually Crenshaw was not involved but Bill Coore used the team) this course plays a bit differently from The Dunes in that its elevation changes are more severe and its larger greens.
5th (473 yard, Par-4): Somewhat of a mirror to the 13th, a drive on the 5th moves to the right and around a huge dune which conceals the landing area. With the Forrester River draining to the sea on the right side of the hole, the approach, like most approach shots here, will not be on level ground and to an undulating green with a large waste area to the back right.
13th (370 yard, Par-4): A really memorable and interesting hole. The fairway is shaped by a high sand dune and moves severely to the left. A drive that lands beyond the fairway will be met with an approach shot not in the thickest of marram grass, but enough to partially catch a club face. The drive has plenty of landing area, but the better apprach location is from the left. The green is massive and surrounded on all sides by dunes where the ball may feed - depending on pin placement.
A fun aspect to the Lost Farm is that it has two additional holes- bringing the total for the round to 20:
- “13A” is not quite the 14th and is reminiscent of "secret" betting holes found at places like Los Angeles Country Club. It's great for a wager between players mid-round
- "18a" is a final par-3 and acts as a final wagering hole for drinks, or perhaps a tie breaker at the end of the round