Last Wednesday my nephew John Dwyer kindly invited some of our regular Wednesday four ballers to play the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Club.

The Old Head is a unique golf course in one of the world’s most spectacular places. It is perched some 300 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and the views are probably similar to what you would see from the top deck of an ocean going liner.

Photo of Lighthouse with views of 17th and 18th fairways

On the day we visited the forecast appeared to be perfect. A light easterly breeze and clear blue skies. However as we approached the first tee we could feel that the light easterly breeze up on top of The Old Head was at least a force 6 so we braced ourselves for a tough afternoon!

We weren’t disappointed and some 5 hours later we made our way up the 18th with the sun going down, fairly battered and bruised and with my golf bag much lighter than I started as I have to admit most of my golf balls were gone. I hope I didn’t kill too many fish!

The Old Head is a very tough golf course any time and when the wind blows it is a bit of a monster. It is also a very long walking course as many of the tees are a long way from the previous green. In addition, they have over the years, been planting many flowers and shrubs to outline the different holes. As a result many golf balls are being lost which is really no fun for the average golfer.

I remember when my son Eamon was caddying there some years ago he told me that when they had analysed the handicaps of the golfers who visited at the end of a particular season, that the average golfer’s handicap was 17.5. Perhaps more heed should be taken of the average green fee customer when determining the difficulty of rough and other places where golf balls are being lost.

In my view looking for golf balls is a real pain in the neck and The Masters at Augusta comes immediately to mind. Yes there are plenty of trees there but very rare to see anyone looking for golf balls.

J.P.McManus recently bought Adare Manor in Limerick and the story goes that on his first visit he met with the greenkeeper and suggested that much of the rough and scrub areas where golf balls could be lost might be cleared up to facilitate quicker golf. On a visit a few weeks ago this ongoing work is apparent and I think a very good idea.

In summary The Old Head of Kinsale is probably one of the most dramatic sites on which a golf course has ever been built. I think that on a day the wind blows it is probably too difficult for the average golfer as too many golf balls are lost internally on the course and indeed into the ocean below. The general presentation of the club house,the practice ground and course was superb and the greens were true and really quick.

Photo of par five 12th hole with the green perched on top of the distant cliff. Take on the carry at your peril.

It is a severe test but one that has proved a fantastic attraction for visiting golfers. Every year it is bringing golfers from all over the world to Kinsale. The building of the course perched 300 feet above the ocean was a serious construction challenge. I remember walking it when it was being built with golf architect Paddy Merrigan who was also involved with us in building Faithlegg Golf Club in Waterford and thinking that the present 2nd 3rd and 4th holes towards the Lighthouse were three absolutely stunning unique and natural golf holes hugging the coast line. To play and enjoy those three holes alone warrants a trip to the Old Head. I do hope you get a calm day!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

October 2015