Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ireland's Best Par Threes - Links

Choosing Best Holes causes as much debate as the selection of Best Courses. People have their favourites for any number of reasons.

Of the different hole types (par 3, 4, 5), par threes are the easiest to identify because they require that single tee shot of brilliance where you can see the hole, its surroundings and its demands in its entirety (Lahinch’s ‘Dell’ excepted). For me, at least, that makes the par three consistently the most enticing hole on the course.

How does one decide what qualifies a par three as being one of the best? Is it:
  • Length
  • Difficulty
  • Surroundings
  • Number/position of hazards
  • Fear-factor
  • Where it comes in the round
  • The influence of the elements
  • The sheer beauty of the hole as you look at it from the tee
… or a combination of these?

This is more an exercise in fun than creating a ‘definitive’ list of the best Irish par threes, because I’ll catch a lot of grief if I was to be adamant about it. I’ve listed them in my order of preference (photos below, with descriptions and distances given from the 'white' tees) – although it is impossible to separate them out.
  1. 12th Waterville
  2. 16th Ballybunion (Cashen)
  3. 14th Royal Portrush (Dunluce) – ‘Calamity’
  4. 14th Doonbeg
  5. 7th Narin and Portnoo
  6. 13th Connemara
  7. 16th Carne
  8. 5th Lahinch – ‘The Dell’
  9. 6th Portstewart (Strand)
  10. 16th Tralee

1. Waterville's 12th Hole: 'Mass' Hole. 164 yards of full carry and no cop-out.  Mesmerisingly beautiful, and a wonderful piece of Irish history to go with it.
2. Ballybunion Cashen's 16th. 145 yards to the prettiest green setting you could imagine.
3. 'Calamity' at Royal Portrush - a hole famous around the world.  Some 200 yards of pure terror and one of the toughest par threes anywhere.
4. Doonbeg's short 14th. A mere 106 yards and an hilarious Index 18. Par this and walk off happy.
5. The 7th at Narin and Portnoo. 125 metres. It is a beautiful shot and the surroundings are distracting to say the least.
6. Connemara's 13th. Rocky and lethal. Beautifully isolated, this 200 yard hole is a brute, especially with the sloping green offering no respite.
7. Carne's 16th, viewed from the 17th tee box. The 16th tee is top left of shot. 142 metres of  beautiful flight as you watch the ball descend.
8. 'The Dell' at Lahinch. Look for the white stone to indicate the flag position. 148 yards and a tee shot you might want to repeat once or twice.

9. Portstewart Strand's delicate 6th. Missing the surface is not an option. Short, at just 135 yards, but it's called Five Penny Piece for a reason.
10. Tralee's 16th. 179 yards and, like so many others, very little room to play with around the green. 

And an extremely honourable mention to the 6th at Cruit Island which doesn’t qualify (officially) because it’s on a 9 hole course.

The rest of the best (alphabetically) include:
Ardglass (2 and 10), Ballybunion Old (8 and 15), Co Louth (5), Co Sligo (13), Donegal (5), Dooks (4), Portmarnock (15), Royal County Down (4), Seapoint (17), The Island (13), Tralee (2 and 13), Waterville (17).

Images for most of these are on my Flickr Page.

Throw in your own favourites (or comments) if there's anything you think is missing.


  1. I'm surprised not to see at least one of the par 3's from Old Head. You could have taken the third, seventh or 16th!

    Particularly the third though, its an amazing hole, with unrivalled views, zero get out, plays a five iron and you could die if you go about two yards off the green looking for a ball.

  2. There's a par 3 hole at Dooks in Kerry that is fiendishly difficult (well, to a mere mortal playing off 18) as it has the most bowl shaped sloping green I have ever seen. If you;re not in the right bit of it, you are, er, screwed, for want of a better word.