The drive into the golf club, situated on a very narrow headland, the Cush peninsula, jutting off the tombolo which links Howth Head to the mainland, raises the anticipation levels. We drive along the length of the opening hole, up the west side of the promontory, and a lot of boxes are immediately ticked; linksy turf, rolling terrain, seaside bunkering and an impressive looking green complex.
We arrive at the stunningly located clubhouse, at the very tip of the peninsula, and we are undoubtedly prepared to play some good golf.
Golfing alongside the bay, the opening two holes do not let us down. Some broken ground 50-yards short of the gentle opener and a dog-leg around a wet area at the second keep us on our toes early doors.
Being completely honest, what comes at the 3rd, 4th and 5th is a bit of a shock to the system. We must cross a railway line (don’t forget to get the keypad code from the proshop in order to get out of the golf course boundary fence) and we are transported onto what appears to be a completely different golf course!
We are now faced with lusher, tree-lined fairways, tamer bunkering and even a pretty pond. The parkland feel to these holes is in stark contrast to the first two and in truth they are a disappointment. These holes were added in the 1970s although were later redesigned in the late 1990s. The argument is that the addition of these three holes meant that better and more challenging holes on the sea side of the railway line could be created. Maybe that is the case.
Recrossing the train-track we are now back on the same part of the property as the first two holes and there is an immediate improvement at the short sixth and curving seventh. These two holes are not overly great – the artificial mounding down the right of the latter is rather an eyesore – but they provide hope and transition us to the opposite side of the headland where we embark on a stirring finale of real quality. We can tell we are now in real linksland with the fishy smell that greets us as we walk onto the 8th tee! The view of the island of Ireland’s Eye is an added visual bonus.
The 8th hole is one of the best I played on a trip of five courses around Dublin and the 9th is also a fantastic closing hole. The former of this excellent finishing duo is an angled par-four that slides right and is played to a hogsback fairway with several bunkers to contend with on both drive and approach towards a nestled green. The variety of stances and lies the members must have on this hole adds to the appeal.
And despite the long walk back to the ninth tee it is very much worth it as we now drive along, and just about across, the sandy beach to our right with a rocky seawall directly in our eyesight. It’s easy to try and chew off a bit too much and staying left is obviously wise although it does give you a slightly poorer angle in to a superb raised green complex with a deep gathering bunker to the left. Sitting proudly in front of the clubhouse balcony this is a wonderful hole to end the round. You are left in doubt that Sutton finishes with a satisfying bang.
There are some historical records stating that golf was played at Sutton before 1890 but that is the official year of its formation. The club is also famous for the exploits of JB Carr, undoubtedly the most famous amateur golfer Ireland has ever produced, who joined Sutton as a junior member in 1935.
The present yardage is 2,879 for the nine holes doubling to 5,758 for those playing 18. Par is 70.
A green-fee set me back €40 for nine holes which I personally thought was a touch on the high side considering the lull in the middle of the round but if you are in Dublin centre and only have time for nine holes, and are able to get a good deal here, then Sutton would be a reasonable option to consider.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.