Parkland Golf Courses in Ireland
The temperate and moist climate in Ireland, together with a variety of sympathetic soil profiles, has lent itself to the construction of a variety of parkland golf course developments that have different topographical characteristics and features.
The British Isles general topography is of original rock formation and therefore contains many mineral extracts.
The midlands of Ireland is a exception to the general rule applying elsewhere in the country in that there is a huge vein of bog land stretching from the north through central counties down as far as Limerick and Tipperary. It is no coincidence of course that this is also the path of the Shannon River. Raised bogs occur in the midlands of Ireland and in the Bann River Valley where rainfall is between 800 and 900mm per year. Blanket bogs are to be found along the west coast of Ireland and in mountainous areas around the country where rainfall is 1,200mm per year or more. These are known as peat bogs.
Peat is a soil that is made up of the partially decomposed remains of dead plants, which have accumulated on top of each other in waterlogged places for thousands of years. Areas where peat accumulates are called peat lands. Peat is brownish-black in colour and in its natural state is composed of 90% water and 10% solid material. It consists of Sphagnum moss along with the roots, leaves, flowers and seeds of heathers, grasses and sedges. Occasionally the trunks and roots of trees such as Scots pine, oak, birch and yew are also present in the peat. Consequently, the topography is extremely soft and unstable.
Such areas present great challenges to golf course design and if one looks at that area of the country, the absence of golf courses is notable.
The magnificent Slieve Russell course in Cavan bucks the trend nonetheless, where developer Sean Quinn put millions of tons of stone underneath the course, compacting the moist soil and in effect creating an all weather parkland course. Quite an achievement, it must be said.
Elsewhere, however, the soil is in general very accepting in accommodating golf course design, varying from acidic to alkaline in different terrains. Modern drainage and irrigation techniques can overcome most obstacles.
Modern design of parkland courses concentrate more on the American model of attractive water features and a high ongoing level of manicuring and decorative maintenance, though these courses can attract criticism from some quarters as being “target” courses eliminating, or reducing the element of chance on certain shots.
Nevertheless, parkland courses in Ireland provide wonderful choice, a huge range to suit all handicaps and, most of all, and the chance to meet new friends and enjoy what we call the craic.