I’m not really bothered if you’ve crossed an ocean, a sea or just the Irish border to make it to Royal County Down but missing a quick spin on their relief course would be a mistake. It’s a wee course full of character, contains some exceptionally good golf and is played over the same joyous terrain as its big brother.
It is a perfect introduction to golf at Newcastle, or a lively pick-me-up after a lazy lunch, and one I would urge you to take. If played before the main event, in a similar way the St. Olaf at Cruden Bay does, it gives tantalising glimpses of the real thing which simply serves to whet the appetite.
It has holes which run through dune-lined valleys in a manner that hides them away from the main course and you are therefore unknown to golfers playing the championship links. You feel part of the action going on around you but appear almost invisible, at least imperceptible to those nearby.
A new loop of holes (9, 10 & 11) has recently been added and whilst this trio don’t quite match the exquisite run of holes from three through to eight they are highly entertaining, visually satisfying and I’m told by a local caddy a huge improvement to the ones that were lost when a new practice ground was constructed wiping out some of the original holes.
In short, the Annesley course is short! Measuring just 4,594 yards at its maximum this par quirky 67, 18-hole layout places a premium on accuracy over brawn. There are a clutch of short par-fours in the range of 250 to 330 yards which offer plenty of cunning and require some significant shot-making as well as a healthy dose of luck. They are mostly played to narrow, undulating fairways before pitches to wonderful green-sites. The 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th are all brilliantly clever, mischievous two-shotters which require your full attention.
There are also five excellent short par-threes, none longer than 140-yards and all very individual. The 3rd & 7th are the pick of the bunch although the 14th is perhaps the most dramatic played over a large valley.
Waterville provides a fantastic mix of championship golf & more quirky duney fun.
Dingle Golf Links, sometimes referred to as Ceann Sibéal Golf Club, is one that is trending in the right direction.