Destination Golf Ireland 2018 * - Page 130

Ballinrobe Ballinrobe Ballinrobe has received high praise from Padraig Harrington, who described it as “the finest championship golf course in the West of Ireland”. It is spread over an old estate of 300 acres with big trees and gentle changes in elevation. There’s an old stone wall or two, ponds and lakes (but not too many), swathes of gorse and one good hole after another. It has an easy flow. A par 73, with five par fives, it measures 6,144 metres (middle tees). Finding the right fairway position on the doglegs is the main challenge. Big trees stay back… with the one exception being the weeping ash completely blocking the 18th green. Westport Westport sits on the edge of Clew Bay, where the sea laps up to the best holes and the ever-present Croagh Patrick looms large. Given the mountain’s iconic status, golfers may go searching for inspiration. On the par three 14th, you hit directly at it. This is a par 73 of 6,800 yards (middle tees). There are five par fives, with the 15th being the pick of the bunch, curling around the waters of the bay and demanding a big drive to clear it. Westport shifts gear considerably from the 7th on, when some significant ridges appear. Holes 11 to 16 are superb, using the best elevation changes, the best views and the water to thrill you. 128 Oughterard Oughterard has two things that make it stand out: the greens are large and beautifully shaped (thanks to new ones built at the end of the 1990s); and eight par fours fall between 370 and 400 metres, from the middle white tees… making Oughterard quite the test. The par of 70 stretches to 5,876 metres. The real fun comes on the approach shots through avenues of trees to raised and inviting greens. They promise deliciously tempting shots. There is only one significant dogleg and it’s the double dogleg par five 8th… which also happens to be the best hole on the course. Portumna The ancient forest which surrounds Portumna contrasts against the glorious estate of undulating terrain that flows within. This is parkland in every sense of the word, where mature oak, ash and beech trees wander across the landscape as casually as the deer which frequently appear from the forest. The course expanded to 18 holes in the early 1990s but you’d never know. Here the holes all work perfectly together, establishing a lazy rhythm where gentle changes in elevation are used to show off holes to full advantage. It promises a tantalising day with the driver. The sweetest changes come on the par three 5th, descending between the trees, and the par three 18th. Portumna is a beautiful, unfussy parkland offering exceptional value. And if you want to know about the tiered, stone watchtowers, scattered around the course… they were used by ladies to watch the horse racing YܙHHX^\Y