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Play Away: Barnbougle Dunes

Had you visited the outskirts of the Tasmanian seaside village of Bridport five years ago, you would have encountered a two-mile stretch of coastal farm with majestic dunes soaring to fifty feet high. On this land, cattle roamed freely among the sheltered enclaves. That was before Greg Ramsay, a twenty-three-year-old Tasmanian with big dreams, stumbled upon it.

Ramsay, fresh from a year caddying at St. Andrews, sensed the land's awesome potential for golf. But the farm's owner, no golfer, was in no hurry to return Ramsay's calls—until his wife insisted "young Ramsay be at least listened to." Armed with videos and photographs of Ballybunion, Royal Birkdale and other great U.K. courses, Ramsay sold the family on turning their land into a links. But he needed a designer, so the precocious entrepreneur fired off an e-mail to a man whose work he'd admired in books: Tom Doak.

Good choice. What Doak—along with codesigner Mike Clayton—has since wrought at Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links is no less than a masterpiece, a 6,755-yard layout with a stunning variety of holes and fabulous green complexes, bordered on three sides by ocean, estuary or wetlands. So pure was the land that Doak, renowned for his minimalism, says he may have moved less earth here than at any of his previous layouts, including Oregon's Pacific Dunes. He also utilized fescue grass on all tees, fairways and greens. The resulting fairways merge seamlessly into the putting surfaces, while the glistening marram grass that once dominated the property still blankets the towering mounds.

To cater to the anticipated golf traffic (Tasmania is an Australian island province only a short flight from Melbourne), sixteen on-site sea-view cottages were also built, remaining all but hidden from those on the course. Another good choice, as travelers will surely flock to this layout, which may one day join the ranks of the most significant courses of our time.

Greens Fee: $116. Tee Times: 011-66/363-560-094 or visit barnbougledunes.com.

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