Australia’s Oldest Golf Course; Ratho Farm Tasmania

When you think of prestigious Australian golf courses with a rich tradition, most golfers conjure up images of courses like Royal Adelaide, Royal Melbourne, and Kingston Heath.

While these courses are ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the world and hold a cult-like status among Aussie golfers, there's one course you haven't heard of that should be on every golfer's bucket list.

Ratho Farm is situated in the Central Highlands on the outskirts of Bothwell, smack bang in the heart of Tasmania, the oldest golf course in Australia. That's right, Ratho Farm has a long and storied history that goes far beyond the rolling fairways and one-of-a-kind greens.

Ratho Farm is a links-style golf course that, if you didn’t know, better has you feeling like you’re playing golf in the Scottish heartland back in the 1880s. The holes are challenging, to say the least, but the spectacular scenery, charming lodging, and exquisite local whiskies and wines quickly melt away the pain of any triple-bogey.

The course has become a bucket-list destination for golfers worldwide. Many golfers are now making the hop from the mainland to embark on this national pilgrimage to one of the world’s most Australia’s oldest golf course.

Ratho Farm played an important role in Tasmania’s history and continues to do so today. It was a place where settlers would come together to enjoy a round of golf on a course that brought back memories of their Scottish homeland.

Ratho Farm Golf Course Tasmania - a course that evokes memories of a Scottish homeland

The History Of Ratho Farm Golf Course

The Reid family originally designed the golf links after moving from Leith, Scotland, in 1822. The rugged and wild, yet soothing scenery of the rolling hills of Bothwell surrounds the Estate. In recent years, Ratho Farm Golf Course has undergone extensive restorations highlighting and incorporating yesteryear’s rich history with today’s modern luxuries.

More than 150 years later, the course has come full circle, and instead of bringing settlers together, it now attracts golfers from the mainland and around the world to enjoy the challenge and charm of Ratho Farm. Simply put, Ratho Farm has become a drawcard for Tasmania and plays a significant role in the local and broader community.

Ratho Farms offers golfers one of the most unique, challenging, and enchanting 18 holes of golf you’re ever likely to play. From the charming homestead to the welcoming staff, golfing here will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

An 18-Hole Layout Like No Other

The Ramsay family purchased Ratho Farm in 1936 and have since established the course as one of Australia’s premier golfing destinations.

Greg Ramsay is renowned in the golfing community for his work dreaming up and developing the stunning Barnbougle Dunes. Still, his passion and love for the family history of Ratho Farm led him on a journey to restore and expand a course every bit as spectacular.

With established course designers Crafter & Mogford devising four new holes that meander along the Clyde River, the course really is like no other I’ve ever played. With squared greens that are enclosed by fences, I swore I was on a farm and not a golf course.

Oh, hang on a second, I was on a farm, and that was never more evident than when my approach to the green sailed over three sheep casually crossing the fairway. Then I realised; this is how golf’s enduring appeal started!

Highlights Of The Round

  • The par 3, 1st hole, is a cracker over the stockyards.
  • The 3rd hole also requires a tee shot passed the shearing shed and over the sheepyards and puts an emphasis on threading your line through the pine trees.
  • The par 3, 4th hole, snakes along the Clyde River, which means if you slice too far right, you’ll be fishing your ball out of the water.
  • The 15th, 16th, and 18th are newer holes and are comprised of two par 5’s and a formidable par 4. The par 5 18th, in particular, offers longer hitters the chance to go for the green in two and finish with a putt for eagle.

 

The Charm and Warmth Of Ratho Farm Homestead

The Reid family and other settlers had a great affinity for the game of golf in Scotland and were determined to continue their tradition and love for the game in their new home. The farm buildings and homestead of the past now provide a breathtaking backdrop to a spectacular links-style golf course.

Slowly but surely, over the course of three generations, Ratho Farm has become one of the most recognized and storied golf courses in Australia. As with most links-style courses from the 1800s, the 1st and 18th holes are laid out near the homestead and surrounding buildings.

Greg Ramsay, known for his work developing the Epic Barnbougle Dunes, oversaw the grand renovation of Ratho Farm. The farm barns, stables and convict cottages have been tastefully renovated and can now accommodate up to 50 guests. Fancy some of Tassie’s finest free-range eggs? The original homestead and the 1st tee sit close by to Australia’s oldest chook-house!

The enchanting homestead is the focal point of Ratho Farm and provides the perfect location to sit down and enjoy some of the local cuisines and, of course, a fine wine or two. After a delightful day out on the course, guests can relax in front of the open fire with a local Tasmanian whisky.

That’s A Wrap

The fact that Ratho Farm has remained a public golf course is a testament to the Reid family and their dedication to keeping the traditions and storied past of links-style golf alive and kicking.

You can even take some hickory clubs from the homestead and play the course exactly as the settlers did when they first founded Ratho Farm. The architects have done an outstanding job restoring the course, which now features a blend of wide open and expansive fairways with four new holes that snake along the Clyde River.

With its rolling landscape and so many distilleries nearby, Ratho Farm and its surrounding buildings really do take you on a journey back through Australian history.

Although golfing technology has changed, Ratho Farms has remained the same, and if you listen carefully, you might even hear the whispers from the golfing settlers as you walk the hallowed fairways.

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