Tasmania has built an impressive reputation for its fine wine, food, whisky and cider but now it has been lauded for its golf courses.
The Australian island is home to two of the top 25 courses in the world the Golf Digest ratings in Barnbougle Dunes (above) and the adjacent Lost Farm and has now been named the "Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year' by over 200 of the world's leading golf travel journalists across 36 countries.
One might suggest that some of these "experts" have been living under a rock but Tasmania is revelling in the belated recognition.
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators Awards announcement is a "welcome acknowledgement of Tasmania's growing world-class golf offering", said John Fitzgerald, the CEO of Tourism Tasmania.
“Recent developments have certainly raised awareness of Tasmania as a golfing destination," Fitzgerald said.
"I believe it is our incredible natural features, heritage, world-class produce, wines, beers and whiskies, and the welcoming and engaging nature of our people that have elevated our island's status as a golfing destination that surpasses every serious golfer's expectations.”
The Apple Isle's outstanding appeal to golfers has long been known by Australians and I wrote a five-page feature for this month's edition of Golf Magazine Australia.
In this I pinpointed Barnbougle and the Lost Farm, both at Bridport on the north-east coast, as well as Ratho (above), Australia's oldest golf course at Bothwell in the central highlands.
Barnbougle Dunes, a traditional links course, was created in the Scottish style with undulating links overlooking Bass Strait. Ranked as Australia's No.1 public golf course, it mirrors the adventurous layouts of the wild coastal links courses of Scotland and Ireland – and the weather can be similar.
Right next door is Lost Farm that features a quirky 20 holes with greens dispersed amongst the dunes and along the coastline.
Ratho was created by homesick Scots in the 1830s and a round here is cheap and cheerful, with square putting greens and fairways maintained by resident grazing sheep. It's also the site of the Australasian Golf Museum, with an impressive collection of golfing memorabilia.
In the south, the Tasman Club near Port Arthur features a spectacular tee shot to a pocket-handkerchief green on the far side of a deep chasm, where vertical sea cliffs plummet to surging ocean swells far below.
Some of the other top courses include Royal Hobart, Tasmania Golf Club, Kingston Beach and Claremont in the south, and Launceston Country Club, Devonport and Ulverstone in the north.
With close to 70 courses around the state, you won't be far from a fairway wherever you go – and new layouts at Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham (above) should both soon be open on King Island.
For more information on Tasmania, see www.discovertasmania.com.au. Travellers can fly to Tasmania on Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Qantaslink, Tigerair, Sharp Airlines or Rex Airlines, or take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Port Melbourne to Devonport.