The rays were lighting up the links and portraying all the wonderful humps and bumps of the wrinkled linksland in all its glory. Quite magnificent.
The old-fashioned course was quiet and I had at least three hours of sunlight before darkness would fall. Knowing it would only take me around two hours to play with a clear run I was a bit surprised (but grateful) that the professional said he'd charge me just 30 Euros and that I could "play as many holes as you can get in". And although I didn't do 27 (!) I would certainly have played the front nine again because it is very, very good.
A round at Arklow is a game of two halves and the front nine is clearly superior. It enjoys the best of the linksland and some of the green complexes and putting surfaces are dreamy.
The back-nine is certainly a notch down as it gradually filters away from links golf. Maybe my legs were tiring and it may sound a little harsh but I could quite happily have finished after the 15th (which brings you back to the clubhouse). Holes 16, 17 & 18 cover a lot of ground (two par fives and a 444-yard two-shotter) and are played over softer ground. All told the yardage is 6,516 with a par of 72.
But let's focus on the positives and during the first eleven holes there are many of them.
As soon as you walk onto the first green there is a touch of class that inspires confidence for the rest of the round and although the routing is a little cumbersome at times there is nothing wrong with the individual holes and the second is no exception. It's a good driving hole but the approach is top-drawer and the green complex, bunkering and putting surface is superb. And although none of the other holes quite reach this height they are all either very good or excellent and that includes the wonderful par-three third.
Holes four and five take us directly along the coastline before we head away from the sea at the dog-legging sixth and another scintillating green. The short seventh, played over a burn to another awesome green, is thrilling too.
Holes eight, nine and 11 are also very fine golf holes before the round gradually begins to fade. That's not to say it is poor but from the 12th onwards we have dropped a level from the exceptionally high standard Arklow set early on.
I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Arklow, perhaps tagged on to a round at the nearby European Club.