|The new 14th, looking across White Strand |
beach to the resort.
So let's consider it under three headings: the good, the bad and the ugly.
But before we get started there's one thing I'd like you to consider and it is this: for the
sake of the points being made below try to ignore that Donald Trump owns the resort. Instead, pretend it is owned by Michael D Higgins. And no, I'm not joking. Pretend it is owned by the Irish people and see how that swings your thought process and opinions.
There appears to be a fairly simple divide: most golfers say this is great news; anyone concerned with the environment is less sure. I fall between the two. I ran a poll on Twitter asking whether the application's approval was a good thing or a bad thing. From 180 responses, 82% said it was good.
|The famous opening par five at Doonbeg|
Doonbeg's Defences: The Good1. A valuable resource will be protected from the ravages of nature. The Doonbeg resort is a big employer and income generator. Not only does it boost the immediate local economy but it has helped to embellish the Kerry/Clare run of links courses. The hotel with its five star pedigree attracts big spenders to the region and, with the Cliffs of Moher nearby, not just for golf.
2. A world class golf course will be protected. As much as 20 metres of dunes has, according to the resort, been eroded since 2002, and between my first visit in 2008 and my visit last year, not only has the original 14th green disappeared but the drive on the 18th now has to cross an edge of the beach that wasn't even visible in 2008.
|The drive on Doonbeg's 18th|
3. The defences are a considerably scaled down version of the original proposal. What was going to involve 200,000 tonnes of rock, be 13 feet high and 65 feet wide, and stretch for 1.7 miles - is it any wonder it was called a wall - is now far smaller and more focused. The approved new version will comprise a 38,000 tonne defence which will be precisely placed to protect core parts of the course (holes 1, 9 and 18 specifically). Its construction format also means it will be 'hidden' from those enjoying the charms of White Strand... this wasn't the case with the early design. Metal sheet piles will be driven into the ground, surrounded by limestone boulders and covered in sand. This will be be placed on the beach, some 12-15 metres from the dunes.
|The farthest point of the course - the par three 9th green - looking |
back at the resort
Doonbeg's Defences: The Bad1. You only have to read comments on Social Media to see that a common opinion is that Clare County Council has kowtowed to the Trump organisation. First, take Trump out of the equation, and second, consider what Doonbeg contributes to the Clare region. I get that people want to stick it to Trump but economics/employment play an essential part in the equation... especially in an area this remote.
2. Following on from point 1 above, however, economic benefits should not always ride roughshod over environmental concerns as has become commonplace. The size of the defences has been reduced substantially but there is a natural rhythm to our environment and trying to 'manhandle' it can lead to unforeseen circumstances. This is one of the key concerns of Friends of the Irish Environment, which says that such defences can destroy the beaches in front of them. Simply put, one side of the divide is never going to be happy with the outcome of such decisions.
|The par four 6th - another of the holes to be protected|
Doonbeg's Defences: The Ugly1. Appeals will follow. There is a four week window in which to appeal and the Green Party has indicated it will do so. This is not over yet.
2. The Wall. I hold my hand up and plead guilty to the charge of using the term 'wall' on Twitter when the permission was first announced. Considering the man who owns it the media have only been too happy to spear Trump's Irish wall. That's the media for you. The folks at Doonbeg are none too pleased (I received stern rebukes on my Twitter poll) but there was an inevitability about it. The construction of the approved defences will comprise two sea barriers of 260 and 630 metres in length and the objective is to make these barriers blend in to the beach/dune setting. However, it is easy to see why the word 'wall' is convenient so don't expect to see media outlets changing their tune.
|The par five 15th - one of the most imposing approach shots of the day.|
So... assuming you managed to take Trump out of the equation (especially that last point) how do you feel about Doonbeg's defences now?