Gort Golf Club - Par 71 - 6,571 Yards
Gort is a course that we recommend to all golf tours arriving or departing from Shannon airport. Designed by local hero Christy O'Connor Junior, Gort presents a challenge to every golfer. With an impressive situation overlooking the Burren to the West, the Clare Hills to the East and Coole Park to the North, Gort presents 18 unique holes that require plenty of thought and strategy.
It features four excellent par-3's, described by Junior as among the best on offer in all of Ireland, and the challenging par-5 ninth where a sloping fairway challenges both the tee and second shots and a typically undulating green can easily require 3 putts or more.
A perfect mixture of long and short Par-4's require accurate tee shots and once on the greens (always in excellent condition) the challenge is not yet over as the greens in Gort are superbly contoured in an almost links-like fashion.
The second is a terrific par-4. The blind drive must find the landing area on this dogleg and those taking a line to the left can be well rewarded - or severely puinshed by the thickets of blackthorns. The approach must be accurate to this beautifully located green that slopes to the right. The 4th is shorter but can present more diffuculties. A large lake flanks the entire left hand side and continues behind the green. Neither is there much room for error on the right. Most strategists will leave the driver in the bag for this tee-shot!
The first of the excellent par-3's is the fifth, which is short but full of danger. A water hazard takes care of anything right, and an unpredictable kick off a large bank awaits anything left of the green. The green itself is one of the toughest to two putt on the course, the breaks and borrows are subtle - pure, confidently struck putts have the best chance.
The 8th is another superb par-3 that plays through a funnel of trees to a green that must surely represent the difficulties of Augusta. Any ball finishing any distance above the hole will leave a right-to-left downhill putt that must go in - a putt barely touched here from the back of the green can roll all the way to the front. Many find it unfair but those that stay below the hole will have no complaints.
The second nine at Gort is considered the easier - but it still offers great golf holes and plenty of danger. The 11th is a long par-4, a slight dogleg to the left, and with another magnificent approach (pictured right) to a green framed by typically wild terrain. The borrows on this green are most subtle - watch your partner's putts carefully! The 15th is a short but very demanding par-4 that has frustrated even the best golfers. A drive over the top of the hill will leave the merest of wedge shots to a two-tiered, slightly elevated green that runs from front to back. Choose between an aerial approach requiring accuracy and spin or a running bump shot using the bank in front of the green. Bunkers left and right gobble anything breaking or hit off line - illustrating the charm of the hole, something relatively straightforward looking can quickly turn to disaster.
The 16th is the final par-3, a relatively unframed green making club selection diffcult. The green istelf has many different levels and birdies here are rare despite its ranking as the easiest stroke hole. The 17th (par-5) is another tee shot where a braver line to the left can be well rewarded with an opprtunity to reach in two. A more conservative line to the right requires a second shot to avoid well-paced fairway bunkers before a pitch to a three-tiered green. The final hole is another great par-4, favour the right hand side of the fairway (over the fairy fort) for an approach to the large green with plenty of humps and hollows.
Gort is one of the most under-rated courses in the west of Ireland. The lack of maturity on some of its internal boundaries are more than compensated by the uniqueness of each hole and the challenges presented by its terrific greens.
Quotes and Comments
Having designed many Golf Courses, in Ireland and abroad, this project took me to one of the most beautiful settings in Ireland, nestled by the famous Burren and overlooking Coole Park, the home place of Lady Gregory. I started to construct what I believe is a very fine 18 Hole Golf Course, carved through the Burren stone and natural waterways.
I truly hope you will enjoy playing this challenging Golf Course as much as I enjoyed designing it.
The course is an inviting challenge, and a true and fair test for all golfers. The variety of holes on offer will amply reward the thinking golfer.
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