Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Full on at Fota Island

How many courses in Ireland give you the opportunity to hear monkeys being fed? Or how about an escaped lemur wandering up the 4th fairway? Answer: 1. Fota Island sits next to a wildlife park so you might hear the occasional sound that will seem very out of place. Of course, in such a beautiful wooded and mature setting there is an abundance of native wildlife, with red squirrels rushing between the trees – one lives just outside the clubhouse – and swans and ducks relaxing in the pretty ponds scattered about the course. It adds tremendously to the golfing experience, which is superb. Golf aside, the facilities are amazing. The locker rooms are the height of luxury – how often can you open the door of your shower and walk five paces to reach the controls. There’s a Turkish Bath too. And you could spend all day in the bar – I know I did. [Photo: tee shot on par 5 18th]

Beautiful and picturesque golf, that’s hard enough to challenge you, but generous enough to let you away with mistakes. In fact, it encourages you to score and that, for me, makes for very rewarding golf. And then you have the buzzing clubhouse. My thanks to Seamus, Director of Marketing, who made me feel very welcome - as did everyone.

Fota Island is one of the top parkland courses in Ireland, and it deserves to be there. There will always be a debate about which is the best – choose between Fota Island, Mount Juliet, The K Club, Druid’s Glen, PGA National and Adare Manor – but Fota Island is definitely in the top two or three. I have yet to play in Northern Ireland, so I’m sure that list will expand in the months ahead.

And one last thing, are there many courses out there with a Ha Ha wall? And no, I’m not being funny.

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