Destination Golf Ireland 2018 * - Page 98

Killarney (Mahony’s Point) Adare Adare opens Spring 2018. The anticipation for golf nuts everywhere is almost too much to take as the course continues to be kept under wraps. We didn’t get to see it before sending this guide to print so we can only say that what was widely regarded as Ireland’s best parkland has received a massive makeover at the hands of the A merican architect, Tom Fazio. Every green and tee has been replaced but the layout of the course has changed little… even if hole shapes may be quite different. There are 82 new trees, there will be barely any long rough and the attention to detail will be microscopic. The aim is to host the Ryder Cup in 2026, which only emphasises the sort of quality you can expect, and the phrase ‘Augusta of Europe’ is being widely touted. Killarney (Mahony’s Point) Mahony’s Point is a sweet foil to the muscularity of its Killeen sibling. They brush up against each other a couple of times, sharing the same terrain and the same stunning scenery. Indeed, a combination of their holes once formed the original 1930s course. But Mahony’s Point is a gentler, quieter affair, with more accessible fairways and greens, as well as a more relaxed pace. While Killeen was being adorned with impressive modern design flourishes (completed in 2006), Mahony’s Point was left well alone. This is old school parkland and while the course is undergoing some upgrades (under Ken Kearney) that old school charm is set to remain. 96 Ballybunion (Cashen) Many believe the Cashen was blessed with dunes even more spectacular than the Old course. You’ll need to play both to decide for yourself but the wonderful Co. Kerry setting remains the same. The Old has been left relatively untouched, embracing classic links traditions, but the Cashen is a more revolutionary beast. Opened in 1984, it was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, who set greens in positions which demand target golf and not classic bump-and-run approach shots. It matters little… the Cashen is thrill-a-minute golf where you get tossed around as dunes get ever more dramatic. There are blind shots and deep hollows everywhere. The back nine promises epic approach shots and holes 14 to 17 are the pick of the bunch as they find the coastline. Doonbeg In 2015, Doonbeg underwent its first upgrade under Martin Hawtree. The changes to Greg Norman’s original design were completed in 2016. Norman was restricted in what he could do and where he could go (the rare snails on the biggest dunes had to be protected), but Doonbeg still flashed with genius. He let the natural terrain of big, chaotic dunes shape the holes, resulting in some stunning shots and remarkable green settings… the 1st, 5th, 13th and 15th come to mind. Holes weave in a vague figure of eight in and out of the dunes, brushing up to Doughmore Bay on several occasions. Hawtree has refined Norman’s work and the routing to play better in the wind, and the new greens are beautiful creations.