Destination Golf Ireland 2018 * - Page 149

Kirkistown Castle Kirkistown Castle James Braid redesigned this quiet links on the eastern coastline of Co. Down in the 1930s. He was the perfect man for the job as Kirkistown Castle’s landscape played into the master designer’s hands. He employed his trademark deception around the green, punitive bunkering and oodles of subtlety. It may not feel big or long (par 69, 6,167 yards) but expect to be tested with hard to gauge fairways. Seven of the par fours measure over 400 yards and well- bunkered greens always present problems. Holes play over two levels: low, bumpy terrain and across a high exposed ridge, which promises some stunning drives and approaches, as well as views across the rest of the course. Roe Park Roe Park’s recent upgrades, to greens especially, have given this golf resort considerably more clout. The course sits alongside the smart hotel and impressive driving range, and three practice holes have also been added. The course wraps easily around the hotel, starting down by the River Roe, playing over gentle parkland terrain. It then has one glorious par three (the 6th, pictured) rising steeply through the heart of the buildings to a turret-like green. It’s one intimidating shot for an Index 18! The remaining 12 holes find a steadier rhythm with water and gorse and trees looping around Mullagh Hill. It is an airy course where you will be tempted to go for your shots but the tantalising and short par four 15th will stop you in your tracks… go for glory or play safe? The 17th is a long and attractive par three and may be a card-wrecker. Roe Park’s location, not far from the revered links on the north coast, adds to the resort’s attraction. Warrenpoint Three par fives in the opening four holes make for a top-heavy start at Warrenpoint. Stretched over mostly flat terrain they do, however, present strong scoring opportunities… something you will want to avail of as the holes which follow are more difficult, have greater shape and restrict wild driving. And yet it is a short course so prepare to play intelligent golf between colourful, often intrusive trees. The club has produced several international players and, given the demands of the course, it is little wonder. The run of holes from 11 to 15, in the farthest corner, is what you will cherish most. Massereene There are many strong parklands in Northern Ireland, but Massereene’s shape and intrigue give it an extra layer of quality. Add in its modest length (par 72, 6,400 yards, middle tees), small greens and lots of doglegs and you have a course that becomes a strategic golfer’s cornucopia. And that’s before mentioning the trees, many of which have been growing here since the club was formed in 1895. They like to squeeze fairways and elbow doglegs. The 1st hole sets the tone as it doglegs right, around trees, before rising sharply to a green perched on a ridge. A sweetly paced course that will put manners on you. 147