Sunday, July 13, 2014

Atlantic Coast Challenge - Day 2 - Carne Golf Links

Approach to Carne's Kilmore 8th 
Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge was spent on the monstrous dunes of Carne. The day was… in a word… blistering. Almost wrong for a links, but there was enough wind to add that necessary something. 9 irons became 7 irons, or over-enthusiastically thrashed 8 irons.

Since playing there, I have read numerous ‘complaints’ about the course condition (greens specifically) and the forward tees. Put simply – you can’t win. And by ‘you’ I mean Carne Golf Links.

Two years ago we played off the back tees at Enniscrone. I loved it, but others were bitching that it was too tough and rounds were taking close to 6 hours. This year they were off the forward tees and the course didn’t feel the same at all. Still brilliant, but a completely different game. Enniscrone's Index 1 became a 3 iron off the tee and an 8 iron approach. I’m sure some people loved the set up, making birdies – or, in Mike12’s case, an albatross on the par five 16th – and scoring plenty of points, but I prefer it tougher, especially when the weather is so benign. Although that too was unexpected.
The par three 4th on the Kilmore nine - in play on the Hackett 18 as
the par four 12th is being upgraded.
So I feel sorry for Carne for pushing their tees so far forward. Next year maybe they’ll put them off the back and have a whole different bunch of people bitching that the course is too difficult.

As for the greens, yes, they weren’t in the best shape, but someone commenting that they were worse than a pitch and putt course is laughable. Or else they play on a seriously good pitch and putt. Carne’s greens didn’t look great, but the ball ran true, and green keepers can’t always predict the weather to ensure that greens are watered exactly right.
Chris adds another par... and four points to his card, on the par four 6th. 
Our ‘ringer’ for the day was Chris Tallott, last year’s Captain at Carne. Playing off 27, he rattled in a few pars, scoring three and four pointers… and his total contribution equalled mine and Fin’s combined. It wasn’t pretty.

But, considering that we had played the corresponding event in driving rain the year before, we had no complaints.
Views back to the dunes on the par four 3rd hole
“I don’t remember this hole,” Finbarr commented as we approached the 3rd green. It was a comment he repeated a number of times during the day.

“Hard to remember a hole when your eyes are shut and your face is turned to the ground,” I replied, remembering the stinging rain of the previous July. Now we were squinting because of the sun. It was bliss.
Tee shot to the 140 yard par three 16th.
I have played Carne close to ten times and every time I do, it grows on me – with or without the rain. Considering how much I loved it the first time I played here, that’s saying something. The front nine, often regarded as the less impressive of the two Hackett nines, is still exceptionally strong. It doesn’t throw the biggest dunes at you, but there is greater strategy required here, and positioning off the tee is more important. Find the wrong side of the fairway on holes 3, 5, 6 and 8 and you’ll appreciate this.
Approach to the 18th green (and clubhouse)
The new nine – the Kilmore Nine – I had played only once, so, after a very good chicken stir fry and a pint in the clubhouse, I tempted Finbarr back on to the course to play the holes designed by Ally McIntosh and opened last year. Finbarr’s only concern was missing the Brazil/Germany semi final, but what’s football when you get to play Ireland’s newest golf holes… and some of the best on the island?

By the time we got back to the clubhouse, at 10pm, Germany were leading 5-0. Game over… but, for Carne, it is still just the beginning. I took a photo on the Kilmore nine – the 6th hole – of Finbarr with the setting sun behind.

Finbarr plays to the 6th green on the new Kilmore nine.

“How about ‘a new dawn for Carne’s new nine’?” Finbarr said as he looked at the photograph. True, sunset is as far from dawn as you can get, but the sentiment was spot on, and who’s to know…


  1. Isn't more of a natural look, that makes links golf, links golf. If it looked like our american courses, what would be the reason for traveling to ireland for golf, we can get green and lush here or on the made for american courses there.

  2. See my comments for the previous day