Ballybunion Golf Club, Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game of golf originated here. Located on the Shannon estuary, it is a true seaside links course, virtually treeless and a course of sharp contours throughout. There appears to be no man- made influence. It looks like a course laid out on land back in the 10th century.There is a wild look to the place the long grass covering the dunes that pitch and roll throughout the course making it very intimidating. Yet the course is eminently fair. While there would appear to be a lot of blind shots, there aren’t. Even where there are blind shots, you are given a good idea where you must hit the ball.
The contours, on the fairways and on the greens, are what make it a great golf course. There are uphill and downhill and sidehill shots, uphill and downhill par-3s. You must play accurate iron shots into the greens, usually to a small target with not a lot of room to miss right or left. But there is room to roll a ball on to the greens in the true links manner. Playing Ballybunion is similar in many respects, to playing Cypress Point in America, and I like that style of golf. It’s the best way to play. If you hit a straight shot but miss-hit it by a little bit, a little too long or short, you shouldn’t be penalised as much as you are for missing left or right of the green. Yet if you roll the ball on to the green, and once you get to the green there are more contours you must contend with. It is all this that cause Ballybunion to offer some of the finest and most demanding shots into the green of any course I’ve played in the world. Combine this with the winds that are prevalent here and you have a magnificent challenge.
It is a course that will test your patience. It is not a course that favours one particular style of play over another, but one that simply rewards good play and good shots. For example, the 8th is only 155 yards and plays almost straight downhill, yet you must hit your shots within a 10 to 12 yard area or face a bogey.., or double-bogey. In a wind, it’s one of the most demanding shots I’ve ever faced. And that’s the character of the course. The 11th, a 446-yard par 4 perched right on the seaside cliffs, is one of the toughest holes in the world. That’s also the character of the course. Yet it’s a course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing. I know I never will. In short, Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build golf course. I consider it a true test of golf.
Ballybunion Golf Club
Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland
Telephone : +353 68 27146