Rough Guide.

My Guide to courses I have played!

Ballybunnion Rough Guide.

Just remember, it's always the caddies fault!
The grand belle of Irish links, Ballybunion was founded in 1893 as a six hole course. It almost became extinct until investment occurred in 1906, and a further development in 1927 turned it into the eighteen holes you see today. The course rose to prominence when links legend Tom Watson visited in 1981 to prepare for The Open. He cited his Ballyb trip as the reason for his victory, saying “Ballybunion is the course on which many golf architects should live and play on before they build golf courses”’ and so a global love affair with the place was born. It is continually ranked highly in World Rankings, with the Eleventh Hole serving as a spectacular signature hole. It doesn’t see many competitions as a result of its location, but that doesn’t detract from it in the least. Enjoy one of the greatest tests in golf...

The Holes.

There is magic about the place. You get that impression straight away when you stand on the first tee. You’re greeted by a pretty intimidating opening shot, especially for someone new to the course- a large sand hill to your left and a graveyard to your right. Yes, a graveyard. To add to that, the wind normally pushes the ball right into it, but you can’t retrieve your ball, it literally is dead inside there! The bunkers are reachable, so aim for them and let it drift a little right, giving you a better angle for the green. Short is safe, as two pot bunkers are located either side, with rough long. After that, you’re faced with the number one index hole on the course. So you don’t really get an easy intro. A long Par 4, the tee sets you off between two tricky bunkers that kill any chance of a par on this hole. The fairway rises after these, but also narrows in to a mere five paces wide, with two large mountains of rough either side, allowing no good stances or lies. Even if you hit the fairway, there is a wall of green that proceeds the real short grass, which makes yardage so important, especially if there is a front pin. Two deep pot bunkers either side certainly don’t help matters.

Even a bogey here really is not a bad score most days, so you take what you get and move on. The third is a long Par three from up high that gives a wonderful panorama of the course, The payoff is that the players are more susceptible to the wind, whatever direction it hails from. This can range from a seven iron to a driver, but the most important factor to know is be short and right. A big green with a grassy ridge in front and bunkers on the side further shield it Tiger was long and left and he wound up on the road, out of bounds, but Payne Stewart was far more accurate, recording his last hole in one here. ​ One of the unique features of the Old Course is the ability of playing over a green that you just played. This occurs on the fourth, a decent length Par five that follows the road into town. Bunkers on either side of a decently sized fairway appear within range; whilst the ridged rough on either side can make errant drives blind. You pass one of two houses that appear on the same side of the road, and it’s safe to say that it’s the envy of those that pass it. It can be a reachable green, with room in front to allow for a short pitch up but beware two bunkers greenside that may leave you stranded. Back to back Fives and you essentially tee off over the green again.

This is a much more straightforward hole, again reachable on most days. You tee off from the site of a former Marconi Wireless station that provided Transatlantic communication, and a training ground for Irish Olympians Bob Tisdall and Dr. Pat O’ Callahan, who went on to win gold in the 1928 Olympics. But back to the golf...It’s pretty wide open. Though the courses borderline runs along the right side, there is a lot of leeway off the short stuff. Bunkers line the side of the start of the fairway, and most times the line is a fairway bunker bang in the middle.

There is a blind bunker directly behind it but doesn’t usually affect players. A rise then fall in the fairway allows a good run down towards the green. It boasts a large area to utilize, but short puts you in bunkers at the side and long long is tough rough, which is a sure fire way to ruin a good score. After this hole, eat the phenomenal on-course food and take a deep breath, because the course kicks into overdrive... Nick Faldo describes the sixth as one of his favourite Par Fours in golf. High praise indeed.

The tee offers a view of the Shannon estuary. Short on paper, it normally plays much longer thanks to westerly winds straight in off the ocean. It doglegs out left towards the ocean, into one of the hardest greens you can experience. The nuance of great links design is on display here, as no bunker is needed, just a few minor ridges. This year, the ditch with heavy rough to the right of the fairway has been removed and opened up, while the rough at the back left of the green has gone. Now if you’re long and left, you’re well hydrated. Seven offers a stunning view along the beach that stretches the length of both courses. A long par four in the wind, it is deceptively more open than it appears. It’s one of the wider fairways on the course and has light rough bordering it.

No doubt you will hear one of the caddies tell you have all of Ireland to your left! The rough seas of the North Atlantic undercut the original green, and the green that followed had the ability to give one nightmares, due to its extreme undulations. Now though, there is a fine sized landing area that gives the player ample opportunity. ​

A grave mistake if you go over the wall.

Pot bunkers on the left and right of the green.

A narrow fairway and a big hill up to the green shows why this is number one index.

Bailout on the right as the rough has been cleared.

The sunrise over the second.

A grass bunker in front and fringe behind it.

Tee view of three, and lots of room on the right!

The homage to Payne at the site of his final hole in one.

A bit more room than you'd think left off the tee.

A rolling dip 150 out and bunkers at the front.

Fourth tee from the tips.

Fringe on the right and behind is more forgiving than the grass bunkering on the left side.

The three bunkers on the right are reachable and sometimes not visable.

A sneaky bunker lingers behind the main fairway one, right side bunker marks the 100 line.

Pot bunkers either side of the front but room to run a low one up the apron.

The outer bunkers are reachable & make good lines to aim for.

Last trailer on the left usually works as a good line.

Right is far better than left when going for this green.

The trench is in bounds but makes a hard second.

A steep rise to a massive green, check your yardages!

I'd trust that well placed sign if I were you.

The green slopes hard back to front.

The tee shows off a stunning vista of the beach along both courses.

The widest fairway on the course but extra bailout left if necessary.

A short, downhill hole with a small green, normally has the wind helping you.

Away from the slope, there is a deceptive break to a gathering area at the back of the green.

Deep bunkers guard the front of this hole so best to avoid if possible.

Tonnes of runnoff on the right and an easier up and down opportunity.

A massive false front and steep drop off at all sides make this a well guarded green.