Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ireland's Best 18 Holes: Hole 2

Hole 2 Portsalon Par 4 361 metres. ‘Strand’

Portsalon is one of those ever-changing links that always keeps you guessing. It’s easy to be distracted by the magnificent views of Knockalla Mountain and Lough Swilly, but nothing quite prepares you for the spectacle that arrives as you walk away from the 1st green. The famous Portsalon beach stretches out below you, the views are superb and you’re faced with a hole that is one of the very best – if not the best – in Ireland. It is also Index 3, which demands two immense shots over the beach itself, on the drive, and across the river on the approach. It’s a dogleg that’s all on show below you, so bite off as much as you dare on your drive. It’s a brave shot into the green, just over the river, which is far wider that you’d believe from the tee box.

[Photo: the par five at Tralee. Aim well left]

Tralee and Cairndhu are two of several spectacular alternatives. Tralee’s is the more famous, a par five dogleg wrapping around low cliffs and the beach, heading out onto the headland. As one of the most scenic locations for an Irish golf course, many of Tralee’s holes are outstanding, and this is just one of them. (Apologies for the photograph, which doesn’t do the hole justice at all – checkout the second image at

[Photo: the par three at Cairndhu]

Cairndhu has a peach of a 2nd hole. It’s a par three that comes at the end of one of the steepest opening holes in Ireland. You’re high on a rocky headland and the hole stretches 150 yards from one side to the other. The views, once again, are spectacular – taking in Ailsa Craig and Scotland on a clear day.

One hole I didn’t mention in the book is the 2nd at Old Head of Kinsale. After a straightforward ‘inland’ hole, you arrive at the tee to discover what all the fuss is about. The cliffs, the ocean and a dogleg that dances along the cliffs’ edge.

[Photo: Old Head and the lighthouse]

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