Blog 164 – Tarraleah

Approach to the 305m 7th

Course 64 for 2021 – Tarraleah, Tas

Breathtaking setting on Tasmania’s highest golf course

Nomadic_golfer : December 2021

Par 69, 5410m, slope 101, $20 green fee (9 hole course)

6 par3s 133-218m, 9 par4s 283-419m, 3 par5s 435-456m

I have stumbled on another one – a beautiful course in an intriguing and history-filled town! Spectacular setting for Tasmania’s highest altitude course in this old hydro-electric town in the central highlands. The town now has a resident population of 0.

It’s an entertaining 9-hole layout amongst massive, mature pines and gums at 650m altitude (which might make 1/2 club difference to carry), built by hydro workers and opened in 1936. The population of this town grew to several thousand and still numbered ~1600 as recently as 1980. It remains a very interesting town, with the power station still in operation and all remaining buildings owned privately by Tarraleah Estate, providing a range of accommodation (mostly high-end but does include camping) and conference facilities which are magnificently preserved, surrounded by animals and demand a visit.

The course was carved out of the gums, and pines were planted on land owned by the hydro scheme and leased to the club. The hydro funded maintenance of the course for ~25 years after establishment and since the early 90’s, the course has been under volunteer care. Brett Hilder (who grew up in Tarralea as a 3rd generation local, now travels up from Hobart, and who’s grandfather was one of the initial crew who helped establish the course) being 1 of 4 who look after it these days, together with Macca, Triff and Peewee.

They love a chute to hit your tee shot through here, but most fairways open up to being quite wide at driving length with a couple of short 4’s the exception. Fairways consist of natural grasses and had good cover, while the bent greens pose a constant challenge to get right, being under 6 inches of snow for a part of the year, constantly damp and struggling for sunlight hours for the rest.

Four of the holes use different tees on the back nine and they’ve done this well, creating holes of distinctly different nature. The par 4s have great variety in length: within the 18 there are 2 par4s under 300, 2 at 400 and 1 at 420. And it’s no snack, steering your way through those chutes, 3 or 4 water hazards making up for no bunkers and it finishes off with a 218m par 3 through a tight chute (17) with a small, elevated green and a 400m par 4 (18) with a chute of it’s own.

There are no real weak holes here, especially from an aesthetic viewpoint. I love the first (435m par5). It sets the scene on all fronts; a widish fairway with huge pines lining the left and gums right, no bail-out, turning left at about 250 with a water hazard on the left from about 130m to 50m out, moving up to an elevated green in a beautiful setting amongst a backdrop of pines.

The par 3s are all tough; I mentioned 17 above, while 2 & 11 use different tees and at 154 and 176m go either side of a tall-thin gum situated closer to the tees than the green, to a small green falling off on the right, and 5 (& 14) which requires a straight solid strike of 153m from a beautiful gum-filled tee through a long chute of pines with a lone gum protruding on the right, to a green protected by a water hazard over the back.

While the course designer is unknown, someone with a bit of golfing nouse had input here and those volunteers know exactly what they are doing so this endures; the short par 4 7th (& 16th) is evidence of that. It is a straight 305m with a gum in the centre of the fairway just over 200m from the tee. The fairway slopes from left to right and the left side is lined with thick pines for it’s entire length. The ground left of the sole gum has been cut short as fairway, and the right grown longer as rough, meaning you have to take on the more dangerous left side to get the best lie to hit your pitch approach from.

Overall, this is a treat. Again, with this climate you wont get pristine surfaces but you do get a well designed, varied layout that will test your shot-making, in breathtaking highland scenery.