When one thinks of golf in Ireland, inevitably Ballybunion comes to mind- and certainly no trip to Ireland should be contemplated without a visit to the Old course at Ballybunion.
Founded in 1893, the course was unknown until a remodelling by Tom Simpson prior to the 1937 Irish Championships. And when Tom Watson in his heyday fell in love with the Old Course at Ballybunion that certainly helped lift the profile to the stage to where it now sits- as an icon of Irish and links golf.
The town of Ballybunion is sited on the west coast of Ireland facing the Atlantic Ocean, and is blessed with a stretch of towering dunes that are home to the Old Course, and it's younger sister - the Cashen designed by Robert Trent Jones.
But it is the old course you should come to play.
The first 6 holes play basically inland along the road, around the cemetery, and past a house.
In my opinion these are quality golf holes, but they lack the visual impact of latter holes which border the sea, and journey though the vast dunescape. But when a golfer gets to hole 7 and heads back down along the coast the thrill factor goes up a notch or two. Almost every hole from 7 to 17 has something to commend it. It is hard to pick out favourite holes because they are all so good and they are all so different.
Perhaps the par 4 11th is the signature hole, but for me the whole back nine is just sensational, with the possible exception of 18 which is a nice hole, but a bit of an anti climax after all the excitement preceding it. Hole 11 is a hoot with tiered fairway- crack a drive straight and watch it bound down the tiers. You are then confronted with an approach through an opening in towering dunes- great fun. Equally good in my opinion are the magnificent par 3's including the back to back 14 & 15th. Hole 15 quite often requires a driver to a heavily undulating green. I love the par 5 16th with it's "bite off more than you can chew" tee shot and I think the elevated tee shot back toward the sea on the delightful short par 4 17th just exhilarating...
Ballybunion is great fun.
Don't miss the opportunity to play it, and if you do head there stay across the road at Teach de Broch- it's a nice play to stay, and convenient to the practice facilities and both courses
To be sure!
Ballybunion- Old Course is a Travelling Golfer must play!
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