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The wildest parts of Ireland: 2012 Links Golf Trip – day 2

September 27, 2012

Day 2 – I missed the turn from the M50 to the N4, expecting to see signs for the M4 heading to the wild north west. Between our mediocre map and poorly marked Irish roads it was almost an hour until we next spied the elusive road to Sligo. Almost five hours after we left Portmarnock we pulled into the parking lot at Enniscrone. I thought we had missed our tee time but it turned out that we had 15 minutes to spare, so we put on our shoes, bought a couple of souvenirs and headed for the first tee.

Originally designed by the great Eddie Hackett -Enniscrone’s reputation as a top class golf venue has been embellished with the addition of six new holes threading the path through the mountainous dunes. The new holes, expertly designed by the famous course architect, Donald Steele add an exciting dimension to the 27 hole golf championship layout.

The course is famous for big dunes and a lovely setting by the Atlantic Ocean. The first makes a sharp right turn and heads straight up into the dunes and holes two through four snake their way through very impressive terrain. Holes five through ten lay on more traditional linksland with undulating fairways, deep pot bunkers and the occasional burn to avoid. From eleven to the house, the course is one beautiful surprise after another. Eleven is a 170 yard uphill par three that looks innocent until you arrive at the green to find that anything ten feet right of the target has disappeared into a 30 foot deep chasm. Twelve carries across a valley and over a hill with a well executed tee shot revealing a green floating in the side of a huge dune, protected by a 50 foot deep run off in front. Following a tiring climb to the top of the dunes, thirteen offers another blind tee shot through a notch to some tumbling ground below.  “Hit it and hope” seems to be the strategy here.

Fourteen, like two, is another snaking, uphill par 5 that rewards accuracy and ends in a perfect but tiny green setting. Fifteen is a classic strong par four, slight dogleg to the left where two excellent shots get you a putt at birdie. Sixteen is a sort of reachable par five with the bay along the left and immense dunes along the right. As you get close to the green it dawns on you that even though you might get close to the green in two, you could not get a ball to stop on the green. We had trouble getting chips and pitches to get up on top of this tiny hill without rolling off the other side. A wonderful hole, full of risk, reward and surprise. Seventeen’s a tiny downhill par three to a well protected green and eighteen plays like a classic US Open finisher. At 465 yards, it’s a long, strong par four.

It was nearly dark when we got off the course so after the short drive to Ballina we checked in to our hotel, The Downhill Inn. A few minutes later we enjoyed a couple of pints and a quick dinner at the bar.  After dinner, we spent a raucus hour getting to know a well lubricated, traveling Irish golf group, the “B-Gates”. They all work at Seagate, the disc drive company, in Derry (Londonderry in Northern Ireland) and were sharing a golf trip (and no small amount of whiskey) together.

Day 2 Summary:  We’ve found what we came for.  Real links golf in real links golf weather.  Enniscrone’s a beauty and a beast and Tommy Toombs came home with a smooth 40 to post our first score in the 80’s. The next few courses promise more and better times but I’m a little worried about the two (Narin & Portnoo and Cruit Island) that are new to me.

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From → Links Golf

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