Hole 1 Scrabo Par 4 404 yards. ‘Giant’s Chair’
Wherever you go there’s a sense of expectation when you walk up to the 1st tee. You want to be amazed and thrilled.
For many, Portstewart ranks as the best opening hole in Ireland. From its high tee, with views along the coast, including Mussenden Temple on the headland, and the density of dunes ahead, it is a breath-taking view. It is a dogleg right.
I prefer the opening hole at Scrabo. It’s a monster that drives from a high tee, straight up to the top of Scrabo Hill and Scrabo Tower. The views are magnificent, the tee shot inspiring and terrifying, and you can see the green waiting for you at the top. You know what you have to do, but it’s an intimidating challenge. And the rugged fairway makes the second shot just as challenging.
Play from the back tee to appreciate full what this hole has to offer, including the razor-sharp gorse. It’s Index 1 and it’s a brutal start that introduces you to one of the toughest inland challenges Ireland has to offer.
[Photo: the par five 1st at Doonbeg]
Other superb opening holes include the par five at Doonbeg, where the green is dwarfed by the dune towering behind it, and Ardglass, where the flank of cannons urge you on your way with the rocky sea shore to your left and the green tucked up and away in a parapet of rocks.