Destination: Barnbougle Dunes Golf Course, Launceston, Tasmania
Inspiration: Jay Lavender, exemplifies inspiration for me. I got Jay’s email describing Richard Sattler’s Barnbougle dunes and booked my flight to Tasmania the next day. I hadn’t planned on visiting Taz…but since my favorite moments involve a good story and good people, I knew this was a “not-to-miss!” Jay, THE BREAKUP’s screenwriter, is currently working on a golf movie (MISSING LINKS) with Steve Carell. You’ll see from his note why I wanted to be here.
Jay Lavender: “Get down to Tazmania and visit the spectacular Barnbougle Dunes Golf Course. If you can get there, I’ll email Richard Sattler (who owns and built the course and lives) and his daughter Biz Sattler (who runs marketing). Rent some clubs, play some golf, eat in the clubhouse.
Richard is a total original…I had the opportunity to play 9 holes, tour his home, farm and have a couple of dinners with Richard during which we shared some great conversations about his life and journey…”
Richard calls himself “just a potato farmer” but he’s an extremely savvy and resourceful businessman who’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from the blue blazers and wealthy men associated with presiding over and owning the great courses of the world.
Having been up before sunrise to brand sheep on one of the days we were there, Richard showed up at the clubhouse, pants covered in mud and kicked off his dirty boots before walking inside in only his socks. When he meets people that have ventured from around the world to see his course, it’s as if he’s meeting people that have traveled from Mars. He can’t believe that golfers are crazy enough to go to the ends of the Earth just to see a course.
Back in the 1980s, Richard was a successful hotelier in Hobart who decided he’d had it with city life and wanted to move to the country and start farming so he bought approximately 18,500 acres on Tasmania’s Northern Coast. The land’s ideal for farming; fertile and flat in an area with consistent rainfall with hills bordering the land to the South and a magnificent strip of dunes separating the land from the sea to the North. Almost immediately after purchasing the land, an Australian pilots’ strike crippled Tasmanian tourism and the resulting hit on the economy forced Richard to sell off a few thousand acres but he held onto the land along the coast even though it was worthless from a farming standpoint. He held off the banks and held onto his land and family during the lean years, until he taught himself the ins and outs of farming… he’s now one of the biggest suppliers of potatoes for McDonald’s french fries in all of Australia.
When Richard was first approached to take the useless dunes land to build a golf course, he thought it was insane. Even once he was convinced to go for it; which included at one point putting up his own money to keep the project afloat, he had all sorts of contingency plans for when no one came to play. The clubhouse was designed so that he and his family could move into it as their primary residence and the cabins were designed so that they could be dismantled and sold off in pieces.
Now that it’s clear he’s not going to have to trigger his contingency plans, Richard’s approaching the future with the same diligence that lead to his success as a hotelier and farmer. His daughter Liz went abroad to study hotels and marketing and is back working for him as their head of marketing. His teenage son Steve spent last summer working at Bandon Dunes to get additional hands-on experience. And owing to his unassuming nature, while Richard senses the potential for the course to become a beacon attracting golfers from around the world, he refrains from any grand predictions of what the future holds. He’s too focused on the present; he has crops to tend to, animals to feed and a family to care for. The course comes second.
So a Tasmanian hotelier who doesn’t golf buys 18,500 acres to become a farmer, which years later leads to him building a renowned golf course in his backyard that brings the world to his doorstep.
If you want a few more fun things to do in Tazmania, let me know!
Actualization: Not even sure where to start on this one! I suppose the drive over was part of it. I love to drive and I forget what it’s like to be in control…after having all these OZ drivers who I will tell you:
1) Never know an address, EVER.
2) Never know an ETA…whether it’s traffic or not knowing the address, they can’t tell you how long it will take to get there.
3) Don’t ever go over the speed limit. Now many of you may say it’s good to have a taxi driver who drives under control. I don’t believe in it. I’m a speeder. I like a little excitement to my drive.
Therefore, getting to drive a rental car with a bit of a challenge; finding my destination while driving on the opposite side of the road, was the best thing about my Wednesday in Tas. And successfully achieving the drive around the countryside while listening to a little classical music put me in the best state for my stay at Barnbougle dunes! It was my road to recovery :). Also anyone who knows me, knows I defy every rule on the road and enjoy every second of it, this included blackberrying while driving, speeding at least 20kph over the speed limit, and taking photos with my camera while driving. I arrived prepared for an adventure which came out a combination of 3 of my favorite TV shows (OK I’m missing a little bit of LA).
1) THE OFFICE: aka. Roscoe’s office. Roscoe is the man behind the man. Richard Sattler is a smart businessman and you can tell he keeps Roscoe around not only for business, but most simply for his entertainment value. Roscoe is a little bit like the Michael Scott (Steve Carell) of Barnbougle dunes. He is a character and no matter what he does, he will never leave and they will never be able to let him go. He might deal with a matter in a unique way or make an inappropriate comment, but it just makes you love him more.
Michael Scott: [at the Dundie awards] This year’s “Busiest Beaver” award goes to Phyllis Lapin!
Phyllis: This says “Bushiest Beaver!”
Michael Scott: I told them “Busiest”…idiots.
Michael Scott: [While eating a pretzel] It tastes so good in my mouth.
Stanley: That’s what she said. [He and Michael laugh]
Angie (pointing to a sweater in the gift shop): Roscoe, I like this sweater.
Roscoe: Let me tell you something. These shirts aren’t much…..but when you see them on this body….I sell like em hotcakes.
Roscoe is probably in his early 50’s, slim and obviously in shape for an older gent, but def. with a belly…which he told me later almost stopped him from scoring his most recent female quest.
Roscoe: As soon as I trim this belly, that girl will be the next notch on this belt. I’m telling you she texted me today. It’s only a matter of time.
Roscoe showed me to my cabin with a view of the course and out to the ocean. It was like a dream. I felt like I was home. Later on, eating in the clubhouse felt a little like my parents family room. Richard said this was because he built it that way as a contingency plan…so that his family could live there. Later on I saw their beautiful home and second golf course proving they needed no plan. The property had grown beautifully.
2) GOSSIP GIRL: aka. Biz Sattler, my Jenny Humphrey’s (circa GG last season). I felt a little Serena Vandercamp / big sis out on the course because well you see, I didn’t actually pick up a club on my visit.I know, I know. Who goes to a golf course and doesn’t golf?
Well I planned on it even though I’m not a golfer, but I knew for my moment I should golf a hole or two.
The first thing Biz and I did was tour the new course with her father, bro, Robbo (Michael Roberts) – Former St. Kilda AFL player, Mike Clayton, Melbourne based golf architect and former tour pro and Roscoe Banks and then headed to the old to hit some balls.
Biz was almost a replica of me 4 years ago…to a golf tee! 🙂 She was driven, well-raised, very much the eldest and well she was the darling of the golf course. We talked about life decisions, career, and just fun gossip. I always like being a bit of a mentor (Serena) while imparting a little bit of my PR and marketing advice. Later on Roscoe and Robbo did a mock presentation of Biz and I “not golfing on the course”. They trotted like little girls around the restaurant, close enough to each other to see nosehairs. Biz and I planned to hit a few, but we just never grabbed a stick; what I once referred a golf club to in my days as a camp counselor at Northwestern Sport’s Camp. The kids taught me, the mascot, that day. Summer vacationers head to Barnbougle dunes for the beautiful golf course along the ocean, but us LA girls prefer gossip with Biz and the martinis in the clubhouse. XOXO, Gossip Girl.
3) BEVERLY HILLS, 90210: aka. Annie Wilson on the farm. After an early wake up and run on the beach, I decided chores were the way to go. While running on the beach say I was inspired by some Bonnie Somerville music I had downloaded and had forgotten, from her new album “Songs from Another Life” . It was a surprise inspiration she gave me for the trip, since she’d never been down under either! Anyway, I wanted to see the other side of Richard Sattler, the potato farmer gone golfer. Richard, Robbo and I drove over hundreds of acres with Stephen’s lunch for the day. Stephen had been on the farm since 6am. I enjoy the time with the guys as they talked about farming and sports. Before I know it we are in a smelly, fenced-in poopland where five guys are herding cattle, I guess they call that the farm. The guys would pull one cow at a time, lock him into a cattle chute (invented by an autistic woman), brand the ear with a chip, give it a shot of vitamins and vaccine, all while one guy is pulling its tail up and chopping. I didn’t realize for my first two minutes there that he was chucking the balls right near where I was standing, and then Robbo pointed at my feet and there was a little bloodied one in front of me.
My attire: Very Annie Wilson, long dress and gold flats.
Best moment: Watching Robbo, former model aka. Dylan McKay?, trying to help shuttle the cattle. He wanted so badly to get in there and play farmer, but he just couldn’t quite pull it off. He was too good looking I suppose. Or perhaps it was all that time he spent on THE PRICE IS RIGHT doing the “” He had a certain girlishness compared to Farmer Richard’s hot 21 year old son who somehow made it all look like a boyish game. Stephen had the eyes of his father…he was the Liam Court of the farm. Stephen had a quiet innocence and a little flirt in his eye. He made my two hours on the farm go by in a flash…
Realization: Before this turned into an episode of Cougartown it was time for me to head back to the city.