Galway Bay Golf Club - Par 71 - 7,191 Yards
Galway Bay Golf and Country Club is a fine championship course designed by Christy O'Connor Junior. The Renville peninsula, on which the course is located, contains a wealth of historical features and the preservation of these was a foremost priority in the course design.
On the shoreline behind the 16th tee the remains of a number of small circular stone huts can be discerned. Between the 2nd and 10th greens is the Rathnapours ring fort (the fort of little potatoes). Also integrated into the course are the traditional walls of the Galway region, while the site of an ancient copper and lead mine pre-dating the 16th century, Leadmine Hill, forms the spectacular backdrop to the 13th hole.
The feature holes on the front 9 are undoubtedly the stretch from the fifth to the eighth. The fifth and sixth are the first holes to play with Galway Bay running the length of the right hand side. The 6th in particular is a wonderful par-5. The 7th is a par-3, just 140 yards, but all carry over water to a two-tiered green. Carefully consider the wind direction and strength before making a club selection. The 8th is a terrific par-4, a long accurate drive is required to miss water, sand and rough before an approach through a narrow entrance to a particularly tricky green.
Thee 12th is another excellent par-4, requiring a good drive to set up an approach over the same lake encountered at the 7th - but in the opposite direction. Another challenging green and par here sets up the finishing stretch certainly the most scenic part of the course.
The 13th has been described as one of the great par-3s in Ireland. In fact, outstanding par-3 holes are a feature of O'Connor Junior designs (Gort, Glasson, Ekser Hills, Fota Island) - this one plays across a natural marsh area to a diagonally running green well protected on all sides. In any prevailing southerly wind this can be an intimidating tee-shot - don't be distracted by the fabulous views of the ocean to your right.
The 14th plays along the shore, reminiscent of the 14th hole at Belmullet - also a par-5. The ball needs to be piloted accurately down the fairway and play for the centre of this large, undulating green. After another challenging green at the short 15th, the 16th is another par-5 with danger lurking all the way down the right hand side. Out of bounds down the right hand side of the par-4 seventeenth can make this stretch a slicer's nightmare - a good drive here will leave an approach to a raised green.
The final hole is one of the best par-4s you will find. Again, trouble challenges the tee-shot all the way down the right hand side, but a good straight drive over the crest of the hill will leave a longish approach to well protected green.
Another superb O'Connor Junior design, Galway Bay Golf Club provides a stimulating and challenging days golf in idyllic surroundings.
Quotes and Comments
"I have designed this par 72 championship course using all of the challenges imposed by the natural lie of the Galway Coast and the limitations of the Atlantic Ocean. My fellow directors and I are very proud of our achievement. I have developed a course which is of championship standard, but in my opinion, a fair test in golf. "
Christy O'Connor Jnr. - Course Designer
“One of the best courses I have played... a true test of golf in a spectacular setting”
Constantino Rocca - Winner of the West of Ireland Open
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For a guide to Western Ireland and its golf courses visit our regional golf pages.
Galway Bay hosted the Irish Professional Championship in 1997. In winds sweeping off the Atlantic, Darren Clarke captured the title with a three under par total of 285. The difference that the conditions can make to this golf course is evident in the fact that when Constantino Rocca won the inaugural West of Ireland Classic in August 1999, he did so in relatively benign conditions and shot a winning score of 276, all of nine shots less than Clarke's winning total.
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