Oz’s oldest golf course

The morning we drove into the town of Bothwell in central Tasmania I was wearing my ‘St Andrew’s, Scotland‘ hooded top. Then we saw the sign proclaiming we were now in the ‘home of Australia’s Oldest Golf Course’. I promptly removed my jumper as it seemed a little cheesy walking around this particular town flaunting my Scottish golf heritage.

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In the 1820’s the links course at Ratho, on the outskirts of Bothwell was created on a sheep farm by the Reid family who, obviously, were Scottish and, obviously, were keen golfers. Today the Ratho Links is recognised as Australia’s  oldest golf course, and the oldest known golf course still existing outside of Scotland.

Its most apparent uniqueness is the sheep, which graze and keep the playing areas short in between fences to keep them from the square greens. As well as the Reids at Ratho, three other settlers around the predominantly Scottish valley laid out golf courses on their farms. In a rare arrangement, the Bothwell Golf Club initially rotated its events around all four courses.

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sheep grazing on the fairways

Ratho is still open for play and according to their website: ‘In playing Ratho you experience what golf was like during the 1800s, before the mechanisation of course maintenance, or the introduction of year-round watering and the advent of 250-metre drives.’

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A sheepy 10th tee

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Beautiful greens next to the shearing shed

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