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Ballybunion B&B

The Tides Guest House Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland

The Old Course

Hole 1

Contemplate life and death and as you drive adjacent to Kilahenny graveyard and to the right of the fairway bunkers at this 392-yard par 4. Also remember that Jack Nicklaus reloaded twice at this tee during his 1989 visit. If you reach this commanding position with your tee shot the four greenside bunkers will be visible to you. Hit in a short iron and your work is done.


Hole 2

This long 445-yard par 4 is "stroke-index 1" for Ballybunion members. The Tee shot is menaced by bunkers to the right and left and the green slopes tantalisingly from the middle to the front. A tough hole in any weather conditions. This hole is said to have inspired world-renowned course designer Tom Fazio, when he played it on his visit to Ballybunion, for his designing of other courses round the world. Lee Trevino quipped "I see Tom Fassio has been here!"


Hole 3

The 3rd is only 153 Yards and plays almost straight downhill, yet you must hit your shot or face a bogey … or double bogey. When chipping from the right hand side the locals use the bank on the left to bring the ball back. All the trouble is on the front. There are some great pin-position variations on this green.


Hole 4

A birdie opportunity exists at this 520-yard par 5. Tom Watson's reshaped bunkers are designed to catch a long draw or an errant fade so therefore the tee shot is very important. After that it is plain sailing to the bunkered elevated green.


Hole 5

This par 5 hole has recently been lengthened to 524 yards and is no longer an easy birdie opportunity. As you tee off over a corner of the fourth green, the out of bounds is situated to the right of the hole all the way to the green and a hidden bunker lies 90 yards out from the green. It will be hard to find a straight putt on this green - the largest on the course.


Hole 6

Don't be bullied into a false sense of security by the absence of sand bunkers at this 364-yard (333 metre) par 4. Known locally as "The Kiln" (from the time when, reputedly, fires were lit at this point to make lime) care is needed here to make sure that you set your round on fire! Your favourite long iron is advised as the out of bounds ditch on the right is closer than it seems. The normally short second shot is to the top green and is deceptively difficult. This is one of the finest second shots anywhere according to Tom Watson. Chipping on to the green from the right or left is also tricky.


Hole 7

Another sand bunker-free challenge! Out of bounds on the right should not be a problem on this 432 Yard par 4. With advice from Tom Watson, the club painstakingly restored the seaside green here to its original splendour after damage from coastal erosion in the 1970s - helped by old film footage and members memories. However, hitting and holding this green will pose severe difficulties with your relatively short second shot. Practise your pitching!


Hole 8

Affectionately known as "The Lartigue" in memory of the quaint railway line that ran beside this spot over a century ago. Three bunkers guard this beautiful par 3 which so impressed Jack Nicklaus that he got aerial photographs taken to record its magnificent features for future course design inspiration. Tom Watson summed up the challenge here when describing the tee shot in windy conditions as one of the most demanding he had ever faced.


Hole 9

454 Yards of majestic beauty with not a sand bunker in sight! This par 4 is known locally as "The Crows Nest" owing to a depression in the middle of the fairway. Power your drive towards the centre of Sandhill Cottage (the only house on the course); this should leave you in perfect position on this stepped and undulating fairway. This green is like an inverted saucer, very difficult to retrieve from the right or the left if you miss the target. Many locals lay-up here in windy weather. Putting, on this very fast green, will require all the concentration and finesse you can muster.


Hole 10

A driver may not be necessary at this 359-yard par 4. Most tee shots filter into an area on the right end fairway or semi rough. Your favourite long iron to the left fairway will give a commanding view of the green. Locals check the wind on the tee. If its out to sea, be careful with a lob shot to the green, the out of bounds is very close. This is a good birdie opportunity.


Hole 11

Perched right on the seaside cliffs and sand bunker free, this 453-yard par 4 hole was described by Tom Watson as one of the toughest in the world. A view shared by Nick Faldo who once included it in his “Best 18 holes in the World “selection. A demanding drive courts the out-of-bounds along the right. With the wind up, Watson relished the challenge here on one of his visits by hitting a drive and 3 iron to the green. A long left shot usually kicks into a good position to attack the green with a mid iron, but this hole has some hidden dangers. For example, a long drive over the plateau does not always give a playable lie, and missing the green to the right is treacherous! There are very few straight putts on this green.


Hole 12

This 192 Yard elevated par 3 has a very long green. Stopping short of the green is the most difficult position to recover from. Locals will advise you to take enough club from the tee.


Hole 13

A drive straight out the middle of the plateau will put you on the right side of the fairway at this 484-yard par 4. A stream known locally as "Kitty’s River" lies 95 yards back from the front of the green. Although it is invisible as you play, it should not be a factor.

Hole 14

Unless it is windy, there should be no real problem at this 131-yard par 3. Cross green putts require careful lining up, and the back right pin position can pose particular challenges.

Hole 15

One of the games most memorable golf holes where both Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus have performed with distinction. Tom played a wonderful one iron at this 216 yard par 3 on his first visit in 1981. Not to be outdone, Jack used the same club to get within 7 feet of the hole when he came in July 1989. This hole is enhanced by the flow and beauty of the land. It is an absolute gem and fraught with danger. Three bunkers guard this large two tiered green (which tends to be very fast) while a fourth bunker at the back left is not visible.


Hole 16

During his visit in July 1998, Tiger Woods hits a majestic 350-360 yard drive at this 499 yard dog-leg par 5. This shot carried the gap and positioned him for a handy wedge to the green for his second! The tee shot here is everything for the less adventurous. The key is to find the line for the fairway bunkers and stay to the right of them to land a birdie. However, be warned - this green slopes to the front dramatically.


Hole 17

A Club member once donated a teak bench to be placed at this Tee box. It was inscribed with the letters CTH - "Close to Heaven" and it is easy to see why! The elements and terrain come together here and provide one of the most attractive golf propositions imaginable. A driver may be too much at this 385 yard par 4, so check the wind - you could run out of fairway. The second shot home is short, so a birdie is "on" here.


Hole 18

The clever play on this 379 par 4 hole is to play up the right hand side to fall short of the notorious fairway bunker, known locally as "The Sahara". It is located some 250 Yards from the tee and consists of a curious mixture of sand, shell, ashes, stones and bones! - The origins of which date back to the late Iron Age. Tom Watson advised on some slight modification here in 1995, which gave sight of pin for the second shot. Beware though of bunkers hidden on the front, middle, and back positions. This is a birdie opportunity.

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