A project to restore a series of ‘lost’ holes and add new holes at what is believed to be Australia’s oldest golf course has reached completion.
The work at the course at Ratho Farm, near Bothwell, Tasmania, has been led by Crafter+Mogford Golf Strategies. The course has now been transformed a nine hole track into a full 18-hole golf course.
Ratho Farm Golf Links was originally created by the Reid family, who emigrated from Scotland and settled at Ratho in 1822.
Over the years, six original holes had been lost. The first three following the course’s reopening after World War I, and another three when a new road bridge was constructed in the 1980s across the Clyde River, which runs through the property.
Crafter and Mogford used old aerial photographs, scorecards, video footage and spoke with club members to glean their memories of the layout and bring the ‘lost’ holes back.
Now completed, the restored holes will be the 18-hole course’s front six. The course opens with a long par five followed by a long par three second hole. Golfers then cross the Clyde River to tackle the uphill third hole and the par four fourth hole, which features a fall away green.
The fifth hole could not be restored in its original location due to a road bridge realignment, but a site close by was identified as being a suitable alternative, and Crafter and Mogford worked to keep the essence of the old hole alive. The final lost hole, the sixth, is a one-shotter over a hedge and a drainage ditch, to a green which features significant contouring towards the front.
With regards to the new holes, Neil Crafter told GCA that the intent was to lay out holes that complement the existing and restored holes, but that the land that was available provided the option of using the Clyde River as a key hazard.
“Accordingly our new fifteenth hole plays across the river with the approach to the par five green, while the sixteenth, a risk and reward drivable short par four, features the river as a diagonal hazard with fairway both sides of the river and a green set immediately on the far bank,” Crafter said. “A myriad of options exist in terms of how to play the hole, from a driver to a seven iron off the tee, with lots of choices for lines to take – from the conservative, to the bold and even to the reckless.”
The restoration of the lost six holes has been funded by a commonwealth grant, and the club’s owner and director Greg Ramsay giving the go ahead to the firm to bring the course up to a full 18 holes.
“At the Ratho Farm course, players hit back and forth over and along the Clyde River through lovely natural scenery, as well as bringing some thrilling shots into play,” said Ramsay. “Crafter+Mogford have given the course an historic feel, but also ensuring it’s fun and challenging for today’s golfer.”
The club will be hosting an open day on 28 and 29 January, during which golfers will be able to play the course for free.
“Visitors to Ratho can now enjoy a full 18-hole experience combining original holes, lost restored holes and new holes that complement each other well and give a varied golf experience,” said Crafter. “Mown down natural fairways, fenced off square greens, natural hazards and the occasional bunker will give today’s golfer plenty of enjoyment and challenge, to see how golf was played in the days before grand constructions.”