If your choice location for an Irish Golf Vacation is Cork City. The following are five of the best Irish Golf Courses that you could play whilst staying in Cork City. Cork is a much bigger city than Killarney and the people from Cork are touched by god! Or so the Cork people seem to say. There are many a good joke made about the poor Corkman, however, the people of Cork are full of county pride and I suggest to spend some time in Cork to experience the most unique Irish culture.
1. Little Island, Cork Golf Club and located only 15 minutes’ drive from the City Centre.
Cork Golf Club was founded in 1888 and in 1927 the golf course was redesigned by the Augusta National designer, Alister MacKenzie. Cork Golf Club is built on a varied landscape which offers a distinct golf course layout. The underlying limestone creates excellent natural drainage and a ‘links’ type environment on some holes, with alternate lush parkland on others. The river on the right of the 4th and 5th holes, with its ebb and flow, a most spectacular view on a spring sunny morning. The old limestone quarry presents an unforgettable golfing experience.
Concierge Golf notes: Cork has a lot of great holes and there is plenty of space on a number of holes to hit the ball around. I like this golf course a lot for a number of reasons; to mention a few, there is a great mix of great tough to soft golf holes, a peaceful setting to enjoy a few holes along the banks of the river Lee. Club selection can be a bit tricky the first couple of times you play this golf course, and the course is enjoyable to play. Typically the golf course is presented in very good condition and the members like to play golf in a reasonable amount of time, 18 holes no longer than 3.15 hours!
2. Fota Island Golf Resort – 27 holes, Fota is only 20 minutes from Cork City
In 1993, a new parkland course was developed at Fota Island, designed by Irish Ryder Cup star Christy O’Connor Jr. and twice English Amateur Champion Peter McEvoy. While essentially a top class resort course, Fota has hosted a numerous golf tournaments, including the Irish Club Professional Championship, the Irish PGA Championship and no fewer than three Irish Amateur Opens and one of which Mr. Padraig Harrington won in his later amateur years.
At the beginning of 1998, Fota Island Golf Club was under the direction of Jeff Howes Golf Designs upgraded to European Tour Standards. Following an 18 month multi-million Euro golf course programme that saw the rebuilding of all 18 greens, the redevelopment of all tees and the redesign of several of the holes, the golf course reopened in September 1999. This paid dividends with the Deerpark Course playing host to the Irish Open in 2001 & 2002, won by Colin Montgomerie and Soren Hansen, respectively.
In July 2007, The European Seniors Tour’s Irish Open was won by Sam Torrance and an addition of 9 more holes designed by Jeff Howes. Fota Island has now three championship standard golf course configurations; the original Deerpark (Par 71), Belvelly (Par 72) and Barryscourt (Par 73). In 2011 & 2012, the Cork Golf Club at Fota Island hosted the PGA Europro Audi Cork Irish Masters which was won by Paul Reed (Bristol and Clifton Golf Club) and Elliot Saltman (Archerfield Links), respectively.
Concierge Golf notes: The European tour and Fota Island Golf Resort have teamed up again for 2014. The Kang family, as the owners of the Fota Island Golf Resort, are proudly sponsoring the European Tour’s Irish Open, June 2014. Fota is a good test for golfers to enjoy and there is room off the tee that can suit the golfer hitting the odd wild tee shot, however it may not! Plus if you were staying more than three nights at the resort you might consider visiting Spike Island and dine at the Elm-Tree.
3. The Old Head Golf Links, approx. 45 minutes drive from Cork City Centre
Old Head Golf Links is built on a 220-acre of land jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The promontory is almost an island with numerous caves running beneath your feet as you play the 12th hole. The links and practice area occupy 180 acres and the remaining 40 acres of unspoilt cliff (rising in places to over 300 feet) frame the course. Designed and constructed by a unique team, Ron Kirby, a former designer at Jack Nicklaus’s Golf Design Services, Paddy Merrigan, an Australian course architect and agronomist, Liam Higgins, is one of Ireland’s best known golf professionals, the late Eddie Hackett, a former Irish golf professional and golf course designer, the late Dr. Joe Carr, from Ireland’s most successful international amateur golfer and finally, Haulie O’Shea, the building contractor. Old Head, par 72, comprises five Par 5s, five Par 3s, and eight Par 4s – stretching to over 7,200 yards from the tips, with a minimum of six tees per hole. Nine holes play along the cliff tops, and all eighteen holes provide stunning ocean views. With the ever-changing sea breezes, the course provides a stern test to the touring pro and the high handicapper alike.
Concierge Golf notes: My suggested strategy to play Old Head Golf Links is to manage the golf course’s elevation and avoiding underestimating uphill and downhill shots. Some holes you may take two clubs more or less depending on how high or below your target as the ball lies. Some of the greens look very flat but do take notice of how much the green may slope from back to front.
4. Ballybunion Golf Club, the Old Course, is approx. two hours’ drive from Cork City.
Ballybunion Golf Club, Co. Kerry, Ireland, is open for public play and a private Members Golf Club founded in 1893. Home to two wonderfully unique and challenging links courses. The Old Course and The Cashen Course; golfers from all over the world have been visiting the Club for many years. The European Tour’s Irish Open was played on the Old Course in 2009 and Ballybunion hosts the famous Kerry Boys golf tournament yearly. The bad news is you must be under 19 years old to enter and some of the Irish greatest players have played and won the Kerry Boys!
Concierge Golf notes: Look at the yardage for each hole and map out your way to play the hole. You need to keep the ball in play and particularly when the wind is blowing. Thus you may avoid playing the ball from heavy & wire rough. Also by been a bit clever off the tee, you can avoid the fairway bunkers and then you reduce the risk of finding your ball on the edge of fairway bunkers where the ball is two feet below your stance and your only shot to play is back behind you or sideways.
5. Dooks Golf Club, approx. 1 hour 46 minutes’ drive from Cork City to Dooks
Like so many of the early links golf courses in Ireland. Dooks Golf Club is situated in a panoramic setting in a corner of Dingle Bay. Dooks was founded in 1889 and is one of the ten oldest Golf Clubs in Ireland. Golf was played at that time by mostly by soldiers from The Curragh (where golf camel to Ireland in 1883), who were billeted in nearby Glenbeigh for artillery practice on the Rossbeigh dunes. In 2002, the project of redeveloping the layout of the Dooks’ course was undertaken by the Scottish golf architect Martin Hawtree. Mr. Hawtree redesigned the course and it was re-opened in 2006. The new Hawtree design defines Dooks as an Irish Links Golf Course with character and its’ reputation for excellent golf in another beautiful Irish setting. The links course is located not more than a 15-minute drive from Nicks Restaurant in Killorglin. Nicks is a favorite restaurant recommended by Concierge Golf.
Concierge golf notes: Dooks is a shorter links course than others, the greens are mostly raised up which makes the green tough to hit/pitch on and hold. The pitch and run shot can be a tough shot to play around the greens, but Dooks is fun! Dooks is a good course to play, golfers should consider this course as part of their golf trips to the South West of Ireland. Dooks is a softer test of golf compared to Waterville Golf, Ballybunion or Tralee Golf Courses. This is a course that I maintain that won’t beat you up too badly! I like it because I can find this course easier to score on than the courses mentioned and Dooks is fun… It a course that you could play a number of times in a week and come away thinking after each round, I could have played that hole differently…