Sunday, 8 May 2011

Ireland – Day Five - Carne Golf Club

8th green site
Carne was definitely the course with the most potential. The dunes at Carne are every bit as big as the dunes at Enniscrone, but in this case they seem to be more spread out allowing for holes to comfortably wind between them. Eddie Hackett did a fine routing the course although he did leave a couple of question marks this time(the last of his career).

The course opens with holes routed through largest of the massive dunes, but quickly plays into the heavily undulating land away from the main dune line. Some of the holes like the 3rd and 8th are standouts and my favourite was the 6th with a massive roll in front similar to the 13th at Highlands Links. All the fours were excellent, whereas the threes and five we only good.

The number one issue I had with the course was the bunkers. The placement was too far away from any fairways and greens to create any strategy. The bunkering was actually a distraction rather than an accent and I think the course would have been better with none. I really think if a good architect was allowed to re-bunker the course, Carne’s stature would be raised immediately.

9th green bunker - they all look like this

The back nine is where Hackett ramps it up since he takes you into the largest of the dunes on the property. The short par five 10th has an outstanding green site and should have been one of the greatest long fours in the game and be played from the front tees. This is mainly due to the prevailing wind that has it playing so short. The 11th is the most famous hole, a short par four, that plays around a 100 foot dune all the way along the right.

11th hole from high dune

The 12th was the only miss. The tee shot plays into a nice valley, but straight at an out of bounds and then turns hard left with a green cut high into the dune on the left. It just seems forced it the setting and left me questioning whether there was another possibility. The 13th was a nice reprieve from the big dunes finishing out by the ocean. The 14th is a cute three played along the dunes on the left with the ocean on your right. The setting is pretty cool, but the green is clearly too steep to pin and the new expansion is so poorly tied in. The 15th, 16th and 17th are all world class holes. I was very impressed with the quality and variety. It was every bit the measure of the best of all the great courses we have seen so far, except the inexplicable bunkers. The 18th is wild romp home over some crazy undulating land set between the big dunes of the site. This all finishes on a cool promontory

17th green

I would recommend Carne to anybody. The course is wild, fun to play and certainly has one of the most impressive settings I’ve seen. It was not as good as Enniscrone, but it remains a must play when travelling Ireland.

Personal note: I had an 8 on the final hole to shoot 83. I played the 7th through 17th at one over including a two shot penalty!

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