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Muirfield as seen by an amateur



In 1891, Old Tom Morris designed Muirfield, a new private course to become home for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Over the subsequent 122 years, the exclusive traditions of the golf club have changed very little.

To the benefit of golf aficionados, Muirfield has kept its private policies, but it has altered them to allow visitors on Tuesday and Thursday. Tee times are available from 8:30 to 10 a.m., but require years of forward-thinking and planning.

Last year, I embarked with my dad, my friend and his dad on the ultimate golf pilgrimage to watch the weekend rounds at the British Open. We then played North Berwick, Carnoustie, the New and Olde Courses at St. Andrews and with shrewd prepartion: Muirfield. Each of the five courses were dripping in tradition, but the elegance of Muirfield left it in a class on its own.

Muirfield’s swanky persona revealed itself upon arrival. Our taxi driver stopped at the end of the road that led to the club and told us that was as far as he was allowed. The membership did not want taxis to service the club’s entrance.

We were greeted by an ominous iron gate that read, “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers,” protecting history that dates back to the adolescent years of the game.

Behind the gate laid boundless rolling hills of brown and green grasses that emptied into the ocean at the horizon, interrupted by narrow strips of lush green fairways, with yellow flagsticks peeking up arbitrarily throughout the field to ensure it was indeed a golf course.

The landscape emitted a simple beauty, but the vastness made you feel nearly insignificant.

Behind the gate was a man with a clipboard, who condescendingly asked, “What are you doing here?” We clearly were not members of the Company, but with golf bags slung over our shoulder, the answer seemed obvious.

Muirfield Entrance

Our names were on the visitor tee-time list, so he begrudgingly allowed us to enter the grounds. The un-welcomed feeling was easy to get past — we were just appreciative to be there.

We didn’t arrive early enough to hit balls on the range; I’m not sure they would have let us anyway. Before our turn at the tee, we only had time to hang our suit jackets and pants in the locker room. Formal attire was necessary to eat lunch in the dining quarters after the round, and we came prepared based on a tip from the manager at North Berwick the day before. The locker room had the feel of a fine cigar club with the elegant blend of comfort and wealth, surely a room that classy American golf clubs attempt to emulate.

Our names were called to the first tee, and as we approached nerves set in. The first hole is a 448-yard par 4 into a prevailing wind with treacherous fescue on both sides. An already narrow sliver of fairway seemed to disappear as we approached the teeing area.

All four of our drives found the fescue (which didn’t make our caddy happy), but we were relieved to get underway without total disaster.

After playing some military golf (left-right-left) on the first few shots, I had an approach shot into the green from the fairway. It’s not often that I’m hesitant to take a divot with a wedge, but the grass in the fairways made me weary to disturb such perfection. A tentative swing left me in the front right bunker, and after failing to get up-and-down, I tapped in for a humbling double-bogey.

A run of pars on the next five holes allowed me to get comfortable despite the intimidation of the atmosphere early in the round. I was faring well by keeping the ball out of the thick fescue for a while, but that only lasted so long.

Our group was losing balls by the dozen. We counted 43 lost balls collectively for the round (although my friend’s father may have underestimated his tally). The caddy was collecting more ticks than golf balls.

No. 9, a par 5, was one of the most memorable of the trip (and it had heavy competition). To the left of the hole was a working sheep farm protected by an old stonewall. The sight of hundreds of sheep placed you back in time to the origins of the game, with a loud and constant “baa-ing” from the herd. I’m not sure they will obey the “Quiet Please” sign at this year’s Open Championship.

The uphill 550-yard par 5 into the teeth of the wind made it a full three-to-four-shot hole. With pot bunkers drizzled throughout the fairway and guarding the green, fescue everywhere, a stonewall marking out-of-bounds on the left and the looming clubhouse of disapproving members behind the green, the loud animals was the least of its challenges.

A driver, 3-wood and healthy pitching wedge left me with a 12-footer for birdie to break 40 on the front side — I shot 41.

Muirfield View

The back nine delivered much of the same as the front nine. It was a battle set upon a beautiful canvas, truly “a good walk spoiled.” Our caddy barely watched us struggle to hole out on No. 18 before he understandably took off for the local pub.

A 40 on the incoming 9 gave me an 81 for the round. This tied Tiger Woods’ score in the 2002 Open Championship on Saturday at Muirfield, confirming the fact that on an average day, I’m only as good as Tiger on the worst day of his professional career.

After the round, we were giddy at the opportunity to dine in the clubhouse. My hand-me-down linen 1970s suit jacket that I had bought at a local thrift store the day before worked well enough as upper-body attire, but we had forgotten to purchase dress shoes. They denied our entry to the dining quarters.

My dad quoted the movie Shawshank Redmeption, “I mean seriously, how often do you really look at a man’s shoes?”

The shoe-shiner in the locker room had extras stashed away in a box for these types of situations. I wear a size 12, and the largest shoes he had were size 10. Sacrifices had to be made.

The round was all-inclusive: the bar stocked with top-shelf liquor, kitchen with every meat on the chopping blocks and dessert table with mouth-watering treats was at our expense. My only concern was utilizing the appropriate fork and spoon at the proper time. Ladies were forbidden, and the dress code was strictly enforced; it didn’t seem timely to break the rules.

The meal was fit for kings, even though we were pawns wearing used suit jackets and ill-fitting shoes. Unfavorable stares from the members followed us out of the door following our meal, but it was a memory we will never forget.

As typical tourists, we wanted to buy souvenirs at the pro shop. We asked an employee of the club where it was, and his answer embodied the experience at Muirfield: “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers does not see it fit to have a professional, therefore, we do not have a ‘pro’ shop.”

We should have expected that.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.



  1. Arthur J

    Jul 17, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I think the moral of the story is when you are going to one of the oldest establishments in any game (let along golf!) then you wear your ‘sunday best’.

    Turning up to any old private members club in a borrowed jacket may be ok, but not the Hon Company!!!

  2. robert horneman

    Jul 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Mr. Tursky ,I can see why you are getting a Masters in communication!
    Your description about your experience at Muirfield was masterfull.
    I especially enjoyed the part about dinning in used clothes.
    I had a similar experience at Woburn. Not quite as stuffy as Muirfield. We took jackets from home, but the day we but left them back at our hotel!
    We rented jackets,we brought shoes and because it was summer we did not need ties,from the locker room attendant. Like you they were out of the 70’s. I have long arms so the sleeves were above my wrists. Like you when we walked out everyone stared at us.
    I’m sure they were saying there goes a couple of goofy Ameaicans.
    Playing golf in Scotland was an experience I will never forget.

  3. Martin

    Jul 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    On the classic courses in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland they tend to be a little skeptic against americans, maybe that was what you experienced. I would say they regard you as a bit “loud” and without “manors” :). I have heard several times that they laugh about stories of american players doing this or that on the course (stories about japanese players are also very popular). In fact I played Castle Stuart (this years host of the Scottish open as you all know) a couple of years back with an american player. He thought that was one of the most boring courses he ever played. “Where is the water hazards”, was one of his comments… He promised me he would never play a links course again! And I believed him 🙂

  4. Drew Farron

    Jul 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry that you felt so out of place, when we played there they couldn’t have been nicer. The dining room manager was a woman, the staff was very friendly and the caddies regaled us with their stories of how many pints they had consumed the night before!

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Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy



Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

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Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf



We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.

Launceston Airport, Tasmania. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.

The locals at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Wallabies, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.

“Tom’s Little Devil.” Hole No.7 at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.

After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.

The walk between the 4th and 5th holes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.

After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 4th hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!

As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.

To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.

The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.

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Ocean Dunes: Golfing in the Wild Waves



On the last day on King Island, we were excited to see what its other golf course had to offer. While we first missed the small entrance to Ocean Dunes from the road, we finally got it right and approached the course on a small gravel road taking us up to the golf club parking.

When we walked from the car parking heading down to the temporary club house, we were facing large dunes and a beautiful big ocean. “What a site for a golf course!” That was our first impression. And after a quick look out on the short par-3 down below us, we knew that this would be a good day.

The iconic 4th hole. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Ocean Dunes opened in September 2016 and is designed by Graeme Grant. It’s actually for sale at the moment, and if I had the money I would honestly consider buying it. It’s currently ranked as the fourth best public golf course in Australia. We met one from the staff before our round, and she told us that Ocean Dunes is like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids. Although we haven’t reached Barnbougle yet, we immediately understood that this was a good thing.

No. 3, a tough par 4 (C) Jacob Sjöman.

We later played 18 holes, and we were almost alone out on the course. I love that feeling when you’re able to play in your own pace and don’t have to wait. Just hit, look and plan for your next shot. It was a very windy day, and it wasn’t in the normal wind direction. A lot of our approach shots just wouldn’t stop on the firm greens.

Waves crashing in behind Johan. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

My highlight from Ocean Dunes was definitely the fourth hole, a lovely and beautiful par-3 where the big waves crashed in. It has a Cypress Point vibe about it. I also enjoyed playing the third hole, a long par-4 (425 meters) that runs just next to the ocean with a tricky fairway sloping down toward the ocean. It all ends with a very complex green. It’s a great challenge from the backtees.

Sunset highlighting the shapes of Ocean Dunes (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Overall, I would describe Ocean Dunes as a challenging, risk-reward course. It’s a bold and perfect complement to Cape Wickham Links on King Island. At Ocean Dunes, there are 17 holes with water views. All 18 holes have bent grass greens and a lot of variation. They’re highly memorable. We truly enjoyed our round and had a lot of fun. But if you’re able to visit King Island, it’s not fair not to treat yourself just to one course. You need to play both Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes.

The 7th green. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The next destination for us will be Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm in Tasmania. They’re two world-class courses that looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to get there and share our experience. We will also meet the owner himself, the potato farmer Richard Sattler. Don’t miss it!


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19th Hole