I’m sure you will have seen the aerial shots of this dramatic golf course that occupies a thin peninsula of land jutting off the mainland near Kinsale, County Cork on the South West Coast of Ireland.
It is indeed a truly stunning and unique location but the actual golf course surprised me just how good it was too.
I had heard that the layout, despite its wondrous setting, was rather mundane in comparison, however, I came away very impressed. I think a lot of the negative views of Old Head come from its early days, when it perhaps wasn’t up to scratch condition wise when it first opened, however, it would appear to be maturing well nowadays.
The green complexes are very impressive and there’s some thrilling drives. Quite often you must take on the cliff edges, with the wild Atlantic crashing hundreds of feet below, and it would therefore be wise to bring plenty of golf balls.
There’s also a wonderful set of par-threes which vary in length but are all equally dramatic and make maximum use of the promontory location.
As you would expect the course is prone to bear the brunt of any wind and being able to shape your shots and keep it low will definitely be an advantage here.
Overall the course is a visual feast, a sensory overload at times. My advice; take a deep breath of the fresh Irish air and drink it all in.
The greens were like snooker tables on my visit in September and although Old Head is not a links course there has been a lot of sand thrown down on the course to make the playing conditions as firm as possible.
The design of Old Head – a par 72, 7,135-yard monster - is attributed to a team of individuals; Ron Kirby, Eddie Hackett, Joe Carr, Paddy Merrigan, Liam Higgins and Haulie O’Shea. The course opened for play in 1997 but has continually been tweaked with the most recent changes seeing an extension of the par five 6th and the green moved closer to the sea at the short 16th.
I spoke with the General Manager when I was there and he advised me that several changes will be made away from the course in the next few years with the extension of the clubhouse and the addition of private lodging nearby.
It is certainly a course you should visit at least once although I’m not sure I’d want to play all my golf here. In summary Old Head is a little a bit like Christmas dinner – it’s nice to indulge on an occasional basis but you wouldn’t want it every week.