Old Head Golf Links - Par 72 - 6,756 Yards (Blue or White tees recommended)
The Old Head of Kinsale is a rocky outcrop protruding from the mainland into the Atlantic Ocean south-southwest of Kinsale. The peninsula is 3 miles long and its southern tip narrows to less than 400 yards before opening slightly again. It is here you will find the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links on the final 220 acres of land perched high above the ocean.
Shaped roughly as a diamond, the golf course weaves its way aound and across the diamond. 9 holes are played alonside the cliff tops and every hole provides panoramic views to the ocean on all sides.
The drama begins as early as the second hole, a dog-leg left with the cliffs and ocean threatening the left side. Two bunkers protect the corner of the dogleg and the green is perched pracriously at the very edge of the cliffs. The third is a par-3 that also plays alongside the cliff but provides room on the right for a safe play.
The fourth hole is a long par 4, again playing southwards along the edge of the cliff. The green sits between a bank and the edge, the hazard markers almot define the edge of the putting surface. Anyone with the same golf ball they started with desreves loud praise!
The 5th and 6th play back to the north in the opposite direction and away from the cliffs. However a wall separating the course from the road to the lighthouse is Out of Bounds and this is more severe penalty than losing a ball over the cliff edge which is a lateral water hazard. The 6th is the shortest of the five par-5s and offers an opportunity to make a rare birdie. The tee shot is made intersting here as the fairway is at an angle to the tee thereby requiring that you drive towards the OOB wall.
The eastern cliffs are again in play at the par-3 seventh, made more intimidating because this time they are to the right and the prevailing wind will help the ball towards them. THere is some room on the left for bailing out, but this leaves a slippery chip downhill and back towards the hazard.
The 8th, which traverses the width of the diamond from east to west provides a breather with cleverly placed bunkers and the prevailing wind in your face the only worries! The ninth is also devoid of trouble but is the longest par-4 on the course and plays back towards the clubhouse.
The 10th is a risk/reward tee shot at this dog-leg par-5. Taking on the corner can reduce the length of the hole but there is OOB on the right. The internal OOB at Old Head is an interesting feature, essentially the centre of the diamond contains the practice ground and the access road and is all deemed outside the course boundaries. Short of the tenth green is an ancient burial ground that intrudes on the direct line to the green.
Following the par-3 11th there is a dramatic walk to the tee of one of the most dramtic golf holes you will ever play. Now on the western clifftop, the fairway hugs the cliff line on the left and narrows dramatically before the green also perilously close to the cliffs edge. You can see this from the tee - across a vast chasm of ocean crashing into the rocks below. Almost 200 yards of nothing but sheer drop must be carried to reach the fairway. Nothing will make you forget this golf hole!
A long par-3 of over 200 yards follows, uphill to a green that requires a full carry and thereatend on the left by OOB. The 14th, although not threatened by cliffs or boundary walls is rated the toughest hole at Old Head. A necklace of bunkers are strung across the fairway and must be avoided with the drive. The 15th sees you return to the cliff edge, though this is the shortest par-4 on the course. A good tee-shot will leave a short iron to a very narrow green.
The sixteenth is another dramatic par-3 with the green again just near the cliffs edge and protected by banks on the left hand side. The seventeenth is the final par-5 with the tee playing towards the cliff face as it approaches the lighthouse. A hogs back runs through the fairway and can kick a ball towards the hazard. The green is tucked against the cliff edge but some measure of protection is available in the form of a small intervening bank.
The final hole covers the ground between the lighthouse and the clubhouse. A demanding par-4 (take a look at where the championship tees are!) the tee-shot is threatened right by the road (OOB) and left by a steep drop to the area of the 17th. Finding the fairway is key.
Golf at Old Head is truly unforgettable. How highly the golf experience is rated is most likely inversely proportional to the number of golf balls lost and the strength of the wind!
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