Golf trip to Ireland? Don't ignore the Dublin area

By Mike BaileyJuly 2, 2013, 2:51 pm

DUBLIN, Ireland – There are more than 800 golf courses in Ireland, and contrary to what Americans might think, not all of them are links courses and they're not all on the northwest and western coasts.

While courses like Ballybunion, Doonbeg, Enniscrone and Lahinch might come to mind, there's some pretty good golf in the east as well, particular in the Dublin area. Venues like The European Club, Portmarnock and the Island Club are among the top plays in Dublin, but there are some others you may not have heard of. Plus, there's the added benefit of being in one of Europe's most dynamic locations. Dublin is the home of Guinness, countless great restaurants, historical landmarks and a bustling entertainment and sports scene.

Last week, the Dublin area was the setting for The Irish Open, played at the Montgomerie Course at Carton House, just 45 minutes from the center of the city. It had been there before in 2005 and 2006, but that was before the 145-room hotel was completed at the stately mansion that dates back to the early 1700s.

There are two golf courses at Carton House -- the O'Meara (designed by American Mark O'Meara) and the Montgomerie Course, which was created by Scottish golfer and eight-time European Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie. The latter is sort of a hybrid between parkland golf and links golf with plenty of treacherous deep bunkers in the fairways and around the greens to keep you honest and high fescue off the fairways to help you remember you're in Ireland. It's plenty tough for the pros, too – just ask Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut last week at 2-over-par.

In Photos: Ireland's great golf links

But the golf at Carton House certainly isn't the only example of non-links golf in Ireland or Dublin or the East Coast, for that matter. The K-Club, site of the 2006 Ryder Cup, falls under that category as does a pleasant surprise in County Meath called Headfort Golf Club.

There are two courses at Headfort – the Old Course, which dates back 83 years to its original nine holes, and the New Course, which opened in 2001.

The unique aspect of the New Course is that it sits on a piece of property that was left largely undisturbed. Architect Christy O'Connor Jr. routed the holes around groves of trees, marshes and streams in what's basically a wildlife sanctuary. The former Ryder Cupper said it was the finest piece of land he ever worked with and that the venue could host an Irish Open.

The par 3s are particularly stunning, each taking advantage of the natural water hazards that run throughout the course. And at nearly 7,000 yards, it's a good test for the best players.

Links golf around Dublin


County Louth (Baltray) is a top links course near Dublin. 

But alas, nobody comes to Ireland without playing links courses, and there are a couple in the Dublin area that have been under the radar.

One that's emerging certainly is County Louth Golf Club, which was originally established in 1892, just north of Dublin. The course has undergone several incarnations over the years since architect Tom Simpson laid out the modern design in 1938. Tom MacKenzie put the finishing touches on this 7,031-yard layout 10 years ago.

Baltray hosted the Irish Open in 2004 and 2009. This is where Stewart Cink tuned up his game before winning the 2009 British Open.

What it lacks in seaside views (you do get a brief glimpse of the water on the back nine), it makes up for with a strong design. There are three par 5s on the front, including two in a row, Nos. 2 and 3. The second is a definite birdie hole; the third, at 545 yards, is survival, especially when it's playing into to the wind. The approach is blind, and if you miss the green left, a daunting pitch back up to an elevated green awaits.

And the par 3s are as good as it gets on a links course or any other, for that matter. None are alike, and they all play differently, especially with a strong breeze.

One thing all these courses have in common, of course, is tradition, and that begins and ends at the clubhouse. In Ireland, you don't often leave the course without a pint or two, and the clubhouses at all these courses are the perfect setting for a post-round pint of Guinness or Murphy's.

St. Anne's Golf Club, another links course that doesn't get a lot of press outside of Ireland, has a clubhouse with a 270-degree view of its splendid and very playable layout that sits on Dublin Bay just outside the city.

Much more forgiving than Baltray (which is fair, but can be difficult), St. Anne's has wide fairways, gentle rough and few blind shots. Located on the Bull Island Reserve, the club was founded in 1921 and remains a UNESCO bird sanctuary today.

St. Anne's clubhouse came along in 2003 as did a renovation of the par-71 course, which was lengthened to 6,717 yards, as well as receiving new greens and tees. The result is a course that really is playable for every level of player, but more than that a great walk in the park, even if it is a links course at its heart.

More: Northern Ireland shines during 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.