Thursday, 5 May 2011

Ireland - Day Two – Waterville

11th hole - 2nd shot

The second course we played was Waterville. Waterville is a links course designed by Irish legend Eddie Hackett, which has subsequently undergone a lot of work over the last ten years under the guidance of Tom Fazio. Most of the work has been an attempt to add additional character to the holes routed over lesser land, but some of the changes have also been done to add length in order to keep Waterville one of the premier links courses in the World.

The opening nine has received most of the attention. The Fazio team has done a wonderful job of adding new dunes to make the opening nine feel more links like. They have done a great job of generating the variety in shapes, sizes and spacing. Unfortunately the architectural work, like burns and bunkering, had a decidedly North American feel and is not as authentic.

9th approach

That leads me well to my number one criticism I have for the course. The bunkering is mostly there to provide visual stimulation. I was surprised how often a bunker sat simply to the side or worse a bunker on the corner could be carried only to leave you stuck in the rough. I found that I really liked Waterville and felt the course was beautiful, but I was disappointed by the lack of strategy, particularly on the front nine. Playing away from trouble for the ideal line is anti-strategy to me.

The reason Waterville is in the Top 100 in the World is the back nine. The highlight is the par five 11th. The tee shot is played between a wonderful set of large dunes and then the approach is played across or through a stunning deep valley back up to a spectacular elevated green all the way surrounded by large dunes.

I think Eddie Hackett did a marvellous job of routing the holes back and forth through the dunes for the opening three, plays off the top and then back into them for the next two and finally in and out of the dunes to the 18th.

Waterville is well worth playing.

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