[Photo: Cashen's par five 15th]
For those of you who don’t know the Cashen course, it is an interesting beast. It was designed by American, Robert Trent Jones Senior (although he was born in England, so perhaps there was the faintest hint of links in his blood), and it is a divisive course. From tee to fairway, it is links golf. From fairway to green, it is not… it is target golf. In other words, you have to land the ball on the green because there are few opportunities to bump and run the ball up severe slopes to greens. On a windy day that can prove nigh on impossible and not all links purists are emphatic in their praise. But I have two things to say about that: I love a challenge and it is such a beautiful setting that it needs to be appreciated for its unique design and the excitement it delivers - hole after hole.
The closing stretch is utterly superb. After a short and innocuous drive on the par five 15th – when I finally convinced Ronan to put the driver back in the bag – the hole doglegs sharply to the right after some 220 yards, drops down into a hollow and then races low between the dunes, all the way to a precariously perched green. 16 is a par three that drops to a green above the beach, while 17 is a par five that curls around the dunes above the beach and has one of the toughest approach shots in golf (severe drops to the sea) - especially if you plan to go for it in two.
[Photo: approach to the par five 17th]
Ronan had been struggling with sore feet and played much of the 18th barefoot after the heels of his shoes had rubbed his flesh raw. Perhaps those extra nine holes were a walk too far, but he seemed so enthralled by what the Cashen had to offer that he wasn’t fussed.