Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 4

Approach to the 6th at Rosslare
We're up to No. 4 in Ireland's Best Fairways Less Travelled. These are two courses that will be better known than the courses at No. 5, but still not given the credibility or respect they deserve. 

One sits on the south-eastern tip of Ireland in beautiful County Wexford (but then I would say that); the other is south west of Dublin and is the oldest course on the island. 

Parkland: Royal Curragh
Links: Rosslare

You can win four balls to both of these courses (follow the link below). 

For the 5th-ranked, click here
For the 6th-ranked, click here 
For the 7th-ranked, click here 
For the 8th-ranked, click here
For the 9th-ranked, click here

For the 10th-ranked, click here.


Rosslare’s only failing is that it is off the beaten track of links enthusiasts. Those seeking the thrill of links stay around Dublin, head north or west or north west where the courses are bountiful. The south east tip has little to offer in terms of big ‘quality’ courses other than Rosslare… but for those prepared to make the effort they will be well rewarded.
Green to fairway on Rosslare's Index 1 11th.
There are similarities with Laytown & Bettystown (L&B), regarding the routing, the size of the dunes and the raw, natural feel that makes links so addictive. What is different is the scale: you see more of the holes here and there’s more space. There’s room to play and that makes it very enticing off the tee.

The course heads out beside the sea (hidden by the dunes for the most part) over the shapeliest terrain. There are no climbs but you won’t find many level lies with deep swales, and bumps and humps embracing greens and channelling fairways. Even on the back nine, just a bit further inland, there is plenty of shape and almost all of the greens are set up for bump and run. All of the holes are good – 1 to 7 particularly – and the 11th is the type of hole you want to walk back to the tee and start again after you’ve played it. It’s Par 4, Index 1, and a mere 462 yards from the front tees (494 from the back). The approach to the green will be blind unless you go as far left as the fairway allows because a sharp ridge of dune (with direction post) butts into the fairway from the right – leaving a daunting second shot.
The final three holes are laid across the flattest ground. The tee boxes on 16 and 17 open up the sea views and the 18th green has a low wall behind it and a flank of trees frustrating the approach.
The par three 14th. The only hole that plays in this direction
Rosslare might look generous off the tee but you’ll be inclined to disagree when the wind picks up.

The course dates back to 1905 and there’s a second 12-hole course (The Burrow) which has better views… but if you’re coming this way then you should be playing the main event.

Green Fees: €30 - €40

Royal Curragh (formerly The Curragh Golf Club)

Royal Curragh – as it is now named – is one of only a couple of courses in Ireland that has a glorious heathland feel (the other being The Heath GC). It has natural links-like attributes, such as its bumpy, unpredictable terrain, yet The Curragh is 50 km south west of Dublin, in the heart of County Kildare. Here, the turf is quite different – soft, almost springy – and there are plenty of old trees and gorse spread over the landscape to bring colour and character. It’s a combination that works perfectly, creating a course that is different, relaxing and exciting.

The brilliant par five 1st, with views over the entire course and beyond
The 1st tee shows off so much of what this course has to offer. Holes are visible all around and you should look straight ahead to a gentle hillside that holds a few holes on the back nine. You immediately get a great sense of the landscape’s natural rhythm.  And while the different feel to this course makes it so special (as for Bearna) it is the naturalness that gives Royal Curragh its core attraction.

Approach to the par five 12th green
You are rarely pressed for space, but positioning off the tee matters and approaches to greens need to be hit with confidence or the bumps and hollows will sweep your ball away.
The Curragh name applies to the flat open plain of some 5,000 acres of common land. Famous for its army barracks and race track it is home to this, the oldest course on the island. Royal Curragh GC is worth every cent of its generous green fee and it has a tremendous history dating back to the early 1850s. 
Views back down the 13th hole
Royal Curragh Photos
Green Fees: €25 - €35

Free Fourballs
To win a free four ball for both Rosslare and Royal Curragh leave a Comment below with your nameemail and answer to the following question: 

How many holes are there on Rosslare's Burrow course? 
(Comments will remain unpublished to ensure privacy.)

Draw closes on Sat 11th January at 6pm, at which point a winner will be chosen.

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