Portarlington Gowran Park A golf course which combines tree-lined parkland holes with race- course holes. Yes, this is the only course in Ireland that asks you to play into a horse racing track… and out again. And the course is all the more entertaining for it. You start and finish inside the rails, playing over undulating, exposed terrain, buttered with gorse. Then it’s into the woods for a parkland feast where you’ll do well to avoid the trees (just wait till the straight par four 15th) and several water features (the par four 4th, par five 8th and 12th are particularly vexing). The ‘clubhouse’ sits on the third floor of the racing stands, with views for miles. Greenore Greenore sits on the Cooley Peninsula, curving around Carlingford Lough, where an old train line mirrors the shape of the beach below. Several front nine tee boxes sit up here, promising tempting shots to the fairways and greens below. This is mostly a flat, open course with some links-like undulations close to the sea and matchstick-like pines soaring above holes closer to the clubhouse. It is a fun mix in an attractive setting where water features threaten often. So, too, does the wind. Expect a big day with the driver and with so much space you’ll want to open your shoulders. 54 Portarlington As gentle and peaceful a parkland as you could hope to find, Portarlington sits a couple of miles outside town alongside the River Barrow. The course weaves through mature trees and demands strong driving and an impressive ability to draw or fade the ball on six holes. It tests you plenty without ever losing the joy of playing here. Index 1 is a prime example: it is a par four of over 400 metres, sliding through a tight corridor of Beech and Oak, but two more wonderful shots you will not hit… and you might well encounter red squirrels en route to the hole. Behind the green lies the river which makes a dramatic appearance late in the round. This is a well maintained, lovely country course, which punches way above its weight. In holes 7, 8, 14 and 15, Portarlington has some of the best holes you’ll play. Woodenbridge Routed through a spectacularly wooded valley, Woodenbridge is almost overwhelmed by the peaceful beauty all around it. Two rivers weave through the course, adding to that beauty but also adding to the challenges, and you have to cross one of these rivers to reach the clubhouse. It’s the sort of start that fills you with anticipation. This is as sweet and relaxing a golf setting as you could ask for. It is also a short, mostly straight course (par 71, 6,341 yards, back tees) so you’ll feel ambitious stepping onto the 1st tee. But… the greens here can easily make a fool of you.