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GOLF HOME England Golf Ireland Golf New Zealand Golf Scandinavia Golf Scotland Golf Wales Golf

HOME AT FIRST's

a
GOLF COURSES IN—

— Golfing Gems on the Emerald Isle —

 

Ballybunion Golf Club

OLD COURSE • CASHEN COURSE

     BALLYBUNION, COUNTY KERRY, IRELAND    

PhotoS courtesy ballybunion G.C.

THE Crown Jewel of western Ireland’s fabled Golf Courses

 

THE OLD COURSE: There are those who will say that Ballybunion’s Old Course IS Irish golf. There are many (including the likes of Tom Watson) who say it is their favorite course in the world. Some say the course beguiles you with its beauty, then punishes you with its small greens, brutal rough and often fierce winds and rain. Others complain that the first 5 or 6 holes lull you to sleep then the course overmatches you with 12 consecutive unforgettable challenges. Whatever the review, Ballybunion always receives high marks. It is currently rated #26 in the world outside of the USA (and #5 in Ireland) by GolfDigest.com, and #17 in the world (and #3 in Ireland after two Northern Ireland linkses: #6 in the world Royal County Down and #15 in the world Royal Portrush) by Golf.com.

          Were this fabulous links in the United States, you’d likely have to be a celebrity, wealthy, or best friends of a member to get on this course. But this is Ireland, where many of golf’s greatest courses remain open to the public, unlike most of America's great courses including #1 Augusta National (Private), #2 Pine Valley (Private), #3 Shinnecock Hills (Private), #4 Cypress Point (Private), or #5 Oakmont (Private). Pricey, yes — at about $250/round — but not as much as top American courses like Pebble Beach ($495), Bandon Dunes ($275), or Whistling Straits ($350). And, this year, visitors playing a round at Ballybunion’s Old Course get to play a round at its respected second links, the Robert Trent Jones Senior designed Cashen Course, for just €15-€20 additional greens fee.

The Par4, 473-yard 11th hole on Ballybunion's Old Course. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.
THE PAR-4 11TH ON BALLYBUNION'S OLD COURSE.

THE CASHEN COURSE: Like all little brothers of successful athletes, the Cashen Course has some big shoes to fill. The second links on Ballybunion's remarkable coastal landscape, the Cashen Course shares the undulating dunescape with its older, famous brother. It is shorter, but, with probably more blind shots and somewhat more rugged terrain, par at Cashen is 72 with a standard scratch score of 73, both one shot more than at Ballybunion's Old Course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the Cashen Course opened in 1981, and has earned the high praise of golfers who have taken it too lightly over the last thirty years. It now regularly appears ranked among Ireland's best links courses and is priced below most comparable Irish links courses.

Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.
THE PAR-5 15TH ON THE CASHEN COURSE.

GETTING HERE: Of course, you must first travel to Ireland to be able to play Ballybunion. But we think that only adds to the experience: you won’t get true Irish links golf anywhere in the U.S.A. But Ballybunion, despite all the international guests roaming its famed linkses, still dispenses golf in the traditional Irish way: with Irish weather changing conditions daily or while you play, and with Irish hospitality provided from the moment you arrive.

 

BALLYBUNION GOLF CLUB: OLD COURSE & CASHEN COURSE

 

LENGTH & PAR:

   BALLYBUNION OLD COURSE:

       • BLUE TEES:    6,802 YDS, PAR 71, SSS 72

       • WHITE TEES: 6,350 YDS, PAR 71, SSS 70

       • GREEN TEES: 6,060 YDS, PAR 71, SSS 68

       • RED TEES:      5,459 YDS, PAR 74, SSS 73

   CASHEN COURSE:

       • BLUE TEES:    6,306 YDS, PAR 72, SSS 73

       • WHITE TEES: 5,997 YDS, PAR 72, SSS 72

       • GREEN TEES: 5,680 YDS, PAR 72, SSS 69

       • RED TEES:      5,031 YDS, PAR 72, SSS 71

 

GREENS FEES:

   BALLYBUNION OLD COURSE:
       April 22-30 & October 5-31:
€95/round

       May 1-October 4: €180/round

   CASHEN COURSE:
       April 22-30 & October 5-31:
€55/round

       May 1-October 4: €65/round

   SPECIAL OFFER: Play Both Courses within 7 days.

       April 22-30 & October 5-31: €110/1 round each course

       May 1-October 4: €200/1 round each course

 

FACILITIES:

     • Golf Cart rental: €35. Cashen Course only.

     • Trolley (pull cart) rental: €5.

     • Golf Club rental: €40. Reserve in advance.

     • Caddies: book in advance: info@ballybuniongolfclub.ie.

           Senior Caddie: €40/1-bag; €70/2-bags.

           Junior Caddie: €25/1-bag.
          
Tipping at the golfer’s discretion.

     • Clubhouse By 1st Tee: Restaurant & Lounge. Dress: smart casual.

     • Tuck Shop Snackbar: Front 9 of Old Course.

     • Spikes Bar: Next to Practice Putting Green. Dress: smart casual.

     • Golf Shop.

     • Practice Centre: driving range, 3 putting greens, chipping green with bunkers.

 

VISITORS WELCOME DAILY, YEAR ROUND: Advance reservations mandatory.

 

MAXIMUM HANDICAP REQUIREMENTS: Men: 28. Women: 36.
Presentation of valid handicap certificate required on day of play.

 

OLD COURSE VISITOR TEE TIMES: Monday through Friday (except public holidays).

    • April, May, June, July: Tee-times before 1:30PM.

    • August: Tee-times before 12:30PM.

    • September, October: Tee-times before 1:00PM.

Special Rules:
    Play will be foursomes only.
    Golfers are expected to arrive 30 minutes before their allocated tee time
        and must report to the office on arrival.
    Names/payment must be entered in the Visitors Book and identification tags
        will be issued to all players for presentation to the starter.

Notes: Appropriate golf attire (including golf spikes) required — see Dress Code on WEBSITE. Mobile phone use prohibited on the courses, practice greens, or in the Club restaurant or bars.

 

PLACING RESERVATIONS: A non-refundable deposit of 25% of the applicable greens fee total is payable within two weeks of a confirmed booking. Deposit payment must be accompanied by a booking form (names, home clubs, handicaps, contact info). Full pre-payment of greens fee balance is due within thirty days of play.

     • Tel: +353 (0)68 27146

     • E-mail: info@ballybuniongolfclub.ie

     • Automated Form
     • Or, let HOME AT FIRST pre-reserve your golf tee-times at Ballybunion Golf Club.
        
 HOME AT FIRST adds no booking charge for this service.

 

CANCELLATIONS: Loss of deposits paid occurs for cancellations within 30 days of play. No-shows will be charged for their full greens fee.

 

LOCATION: Ballybunion Golf Club is on Sandhill Road, 1.6 miles south of the town of Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland, on the mouth of the River Shannon.

 

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: The two Ballybunion golf courses are within 60-90 miles of HOME AT FIRST lodging locations in CENTRAL IRELAND and may be reached in approximately two hours by car. HOME AT FIRST lodging locations in SOUTHWESTERN IRELAND are approximately 2.5 hours south of Ballybunion by car.

 

ADDRESS & TEL.: Ballybunion Golf Club, Sandhill Road, Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)68 27146; e-mail: info@ballbuniongolfclub.ie.

 

DIRECTIONS TO BALLYBUNION GOLF CLUB:

FROM HOME AT FIRST’S CENTRAL IRELAND LODGINGS: follow the N7 south for Limerick. From Limerick, follow the N69 west for Ballybunion, via Foynes and Tarbert. From Tarbert take the R551 for Ballybunion.

FROM HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHWESTERN IRELAND LODGINGS: follow the N71 north for Killarney. From Killarney, follow the N22 north 20 miles to Tralee, then north 17 miles on the R556 to Ballyduff and 4 miles on the R551 to Ballybunion.

Other Courses in the Region: Ballybunion is within reach of HOME AT FIRST’s Irish cottages in Counties Tipperary, Clare, Kerry, and Cork, as are dozens of famed and relatively unknown gems of golf. See our Irish Golf Guide.

Special Offer: HOME AT FIRST can pre-book rounds for you at Ballybunion and nearly equally famous nearby (County Clare) links shrine, Lahinch, as part of your HOME AT FIRST Ireland travel package.

 


 

HISTORY: Ballybunion’s first nine holes appeared in 1896—practically modern times by Scottish standards, but very early in Ireland. The site — a massive wasteland of dunes along the vast expanse of the Shannon Estuary — was a natural setting for the game. Thirty years later — after once folding up as a golf club — a revision of the site under the guidance of architect Tom Simpson resulted in the modern 18-hole Ballybunion Old Course. Although the course has been tinkered with and tweaked over the years (Tom Watson pruned it and helped restore

 
"Natural Golf" on the links at Ballybunion. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.

"Natural Golf" on the links
at Ballybunion.

 

it after some serious storm erosion), Ballybunion

 

remains thankfully unchanged. The Old Course is a grand testimonial to the idea that "natural golf" is superior to golf played on tricked up, gadget courses, like desert courses with grassy fairways, dotted with water hazards and woodland.

THE OLD COURSE: Ballybunion's Old Course design has been attributed to many different hands over the years, but many golfers who play Ballybunion insist the architect is God. This classic links course on the rugged, windy, and stormy western

 

(Atlantic) coast of Ireland is consistently ranked in

 
Ballybunion's 10th hole — like many on the Old Course — is exposed to the wrath of Atlantic weather. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.

Ballybunion's 10th hole — like many
on the Old Course — is exposed to
the wrath of Atlantic weather.

the world's top 20, and often in the top 10. It is perhaps the big diamond in the crown jewels of superb links courses which run virtually around the Irish coastline. And it is this chain of courses that supports the old saw that the best Scottish golf courses are to be found in Ireland.         
         Ballybunion offers so many blind approaches and tricky conditions that first-time visitors need the help of a senior caddie to properly judge club (and shot) selection. The location of the first tee next to an old cemetery serves proper notice to many first-time visitors.
        Be advised that the fame of Ballybunion Old

 

Course has made it crowded at all times of day in all

types of weather conditions. Tee times made well in advance of play are recommended to get on here. And, while greens fees are high for Ireland, they are reasonable when compared to the fees charged to play top-ranked American courses. At Ballybunion, do expect sticker shock for souvenirs at the pro-shop.

SOME NOTABLE HOLES: A criticism of Ballybunion Old Course is sometimes whispered — as befits a shrine — that its first six holes are unremarkable and that the big test all comes at once on the back nine. We will grant that under sunny, warm, windless conditions, the course might leave such an impression on a low handicap golfer. But Ballybunion, and indeed most west coast linkses in Ireland, should not be considered apart from the weather that normally affects play. Only rarely is a round concluded without some rain or mist, and

 
Ballybunion's greatest challenge: the 11th hole. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.

Ballybunion's greatest challenge:
the 11th hole ON THE OLD COURSE.

rarer still are days when the wind is not a factor

 
of some significance.
        The first six, regardless of conditions, are neither pushovers nor warm-up holes. The 4th and 5th holes are long tests on this short course even without wind. Some of the early holes have no bunkers — always strange on a course amid natural dunes — but fairway bumps leave very few chances for flat stances.
 

         Ditto the 396-yard par-4 6th laid across the

 
Ballybunion's difficult Par-3 15th hole. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.

THE difficult Par-3 15th hole
ON BALLYBUNION'S OLD COURSE.

 sea cliffs. The nearly constant wind here only makes this one play longer. Need a testimonial? British champion Nick Faldo placed the 6th in his personal "world’s best 18".
        The challenge, it might be fair to say, ratchets up a notch when you arrive at the seventh, where the Atlantic edges the length of the hole. At 163 yards the eighth looks short and protected among the dunes, but requires great accuracy to make par-3 possible. As does making a 4 at the 10th, except that at 364 yards it’s not that short, especially in the wind, and the protection here is in

 

the form of 4 bunkers and 2 levels to a fast green.

        The frightening 11th hole (473 yards, par-4 — Tom Watson’s favorite) requires courage and two low, long, straight shots in order to avoid Atlantic wind and rough dunes grasses. The problem is how to sneak up on the plateau green without being caught by conditions or overly distracted by the

remarkable beauty.

        The toughest short hole on the card is number 15, another longish (216 yards) par-3 made treacherous even without wind and rain by bunkers on both sides of a teeward sloping green.
        The 16th,17th, and 18th holes offer no let-up in terms of challenge and scenic beauty. Your return to the very welcoming clubhouse will likely be a joyous relief.
        Is it any surprise that a growing number of top American pros make a links stop at Ballybunion immediately before hopping over to Scotland or England for July’s annual British Open?

 
Ballybunion's 18th green will leave you eager for more links golf. Or it may just convince you that bowling is your sport. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.

the 18th green on the old course will
leave you eager for more links golf.
Or it may just convince you that
bowling is your sport.

 


 

The Par4, 364-yard 10th hole on Ballybunion's Old Course. Photo courtesy Ballybunion G.C.
THE PAR-4 10TH ON BALLYBUNION'S OLD COURSE.

        Never played links golf?
Most Americans we ask tell us it’s surprisingly different, and that they like the difference.
Travel with
HOME AT FIRST and you’ll have the opportunity to expand even your golf
horizons — even if the horizon is obscured by dunes grass and low, sweeping cloud.

 

TRAVELING TO IRELAND TO PLAY GOLF?
Let
HOME AT FIRST make your advance tee-times at Ballybunion and many other Irish golf courses as part of your pre-reserved Irish trip itinerary. HOME AT FIRST offers independent, flexible, fly/drive travel to Ireland and other great golfing destinations in the British Isles. There’s no extra charge for this service.

MORE RESOURCES:
     • Golf in Ireland
    
• Home At First's
IRELAND travel program.

Want to learn about other courses throughout the British Isles
including some of the greatest tests of golf in the world? See our
IRELAND, SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, and WALES
Course Guides for more information.

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