BUCKET LISTS... GOLF IN IRELAND The Spinal Column The Newsletter About Your Health And Caring For Your Body
three mountain peaks, and one spire equal the most magnificent view in British golf”. The 9th, a long par four, is perhaps one of the world’s most photographed holes, the line from the elevated tee is directly at the Slieve Donard peak and the sweeping fairway lies eighty feet below. If a measure of a great golf course is the number of holes that you can remember, then Royal County Down is one of the greatest courses of them all. Lahinch – Old Course Golf at Lahinch dates back to 1892. Three local Limerick golfers laid out an 18-hole course, assisted by officers of the Scottish "Black Watch" regiment who were stationed in Limerick at the time. In 1894 Old Tom Morris was commissioned to make improvements to the layout and he made excellent use of the natural terrain, especially the giant sand dunes. Old Tom believed that Lahinch was the finest natural course he had seen. Lahinch is an enchanting place to play golf. It's rugged, distinctive, unusually varied and immensely entertaining. It's a traditional out and back layout, situated next to the lovely beach of Liscannor Bay. Views across the bay from the 3rd are uplifting. This 446 yard par four has a blind drive to a hidden fairway and the approach to the green is obscured by a hill on the right. The 4th is a short par five named Klondyke. It's one of the most unusually holes in golf and an Old Tom specialty. The tee shot needs to find a narrow ripple fairway located in a valley between dunes. A blind second shot then has to negotiate Klondyke, a towering sand dune that straddles the fairway some 200 yards away from the green. It's certainly a quirky hole but it's also very memorable. What's the best way to follow such an eccentric hole? Why, another highly peculiar one, naturally! Left untouched since Old Tom Morris first fashioned it over a century ago, Dell is the renowned blind par three 5th, its green nestling between towering sand hills that surround the narrow green on all sides. A stone on top of one of the dunes indicates the hole location from the tee so golfers are advised to factor in the wind direction, pick the right club for the yardage, then take aim for the hidden flag. The Old course at Lahinch is an absolute gem. Take note of where the goats are. If they are sheltering near the clubhouse... take an umbrella... you are in for a wet round. If wishing to wander the Emerald Isle, don't hesitate this golf destination as it offers the best of all you would wish for, truly a bucket list destination come true!
In May 2018 an opportunity to join a group of 12 golfers presented itself, one to which I did not hesitate to say yes to joining. The trip included some of Ireland's greatest golf destinations including Newcastle's Royal County Down. Arriving in Dublin, we boarded the “coach” that came with its own private driver. He was a burly Irish football player, who not only knew all the golf courses but many of the caddies and all the after-golf hangouts. To have the full experience, caddies are essential at some courses and add great flavour to the golf experience. Most golf caddies have been in the field for many years. Their expertise into the local courses, how to approach each hole, the way putts will move and where to aim can greatly enhance anyone's game and love of the sport. Most of all caddies often have ties to the local history and community that fill in the experience. So having this connection with some of the caddies told us we were in for an unforgettable time. Let me paint you a picture of this trip by highlighting a couple of amazing golf experiences. Our escapades began at the Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, rated number one golf course in the world according to Golf Digest magazine. The course rests in a little holiday town nestled at the feet of the majestic Mountains of Mourne. It’s an exhilarating location for a classic links golf course where the Bay of Dundrum sweeps out into the Irish Sea and where the mighty peak of Slieve Donard (3,000 ft.) casts its shadow over the town. Opened for play in 1889 and was extended to 18 holes a year later by Old Tom Morris. Harry Vardon modified the course in 1908 and the course received royal patronage from King Edward VII. The sand dunes are rugged but beautifully clad in purple heather and yellow gorse, the fairways are naturally undulating, shaped by the hands of time. The greens are small and full of wicked borrows. Measuring nearly 7,200 yards from the back tees, Royal County Down is a brute. It’s a mystery that this fantastic course, with one of the finest outward nine holes in golf, has never hosted an Open. The 4th and 9th holes are both universally admired. The 4th must be one of the most scenic long par threes in golf described as follows by one commentator: “Innumerable gorse bushes, ten bunkers,
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