Ballybunnion is one of the better routings I have seen in quite some time. It may be one of the most remarkable examples of how to slowly and meticulously present an excellent golf course. The opener is largely open and then the second presents a tee shot through massive dunes. The 3rd through 6th are all in open land before the golfer is presented with back to back impressive holes in the 7th and 8th. Once more you are sent back to open land before running through the dunes from the 10th right through to the 12th. One last venture into somewhat open land on the 13th and then back into the biggest dunes right through to the18th. It’s this slow and deliberate unveiling that helps bring the golf course to crescendo as you play.
The course could have easily relied on the numerous dune holes to carry the day, but the green sites on all the holes in open land are some of the very best on the course. Some like the opener and 5th require some precision, but are open to all sorts of different shots, others like the 6th and 9th are so incredibly diabolical that only the most precise shot has any possibilities of success. The greens and the surrounds are easily a highlight of the course long before the dunes begin to blow the golfers mind.
The architectural highlights for me were the 6th green (one of the very best greens I have ever seen and one that I will incorporate in my work – falls off on both sides at a diagonal), the 8th (a brilliant and deceptive short three), the awe inspiring 11th (which plays as an all or nothing approach after a dramatic tee shot) and the awesome long par three 15th (which is as spectacular a long three as the game has). There are another half dozen wonderful holes on top of this too. It’s that good!
Personal note: despite high wind I had two rounds in the 80’s