County Louth Golf Club - Par 72 - 6,936 Yards
County Louth, also known as Baltray, is a premier links course on the east coast of Ireland and visitors must wonder as to how such a great links can have been missed for so long by travelling golfers. The Irish Open staged here in 2004 may have exposed the secret to some degree, but there is no doubt that Baltray belongs in the upper ecehelons of Irish links courses.
Sitiuated on the north bank of the River Boyne as it flows to the sea 4 miles east of Drogheda, Baltray is bounded by the Boyne to the south and the ocean to the east. Designed in 1938 by Tom Simpson, Baltray has survived with only minor alterations and the natural seaside territory of towering sandhills and dense sandgrasses present a strong links challenge in the ever present wind.
The course presents several sturdy par-4's and opens with a 423 yard hole that typifies the links. Light bunkering is all that is required, the primary defences of wind and rough are sufficient. The greens, noted for their qulaity, are large and undulating and the subtleties of the borrows are soon apparent.
The quality of the par-3s is remarkable. Ranging between 153 and 169 yards the club selection will depend on the wind but each has a special character that remains in the memory. As core close to par on the four short holes at Baltray is a noteworthy achievement.
The 14th is perhaps the signature hole. A short par-4, drivable for many in the right wind. The tee-shot is sublime, played from an elevated position and requiring a long carry to the fairway.
Although County Louth might not be as well known as the likes of Portmarnock and Royal County Down it is a magnificent links, worthy of equal stature, and should be on every golf itinerary to the east of Ireland.
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