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Tiger Woods takes on the Old Head

By Tom Keogh

Tiger Woods had played fourteen holes before he got his first real look at the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links. It had been a little foggy when Woods, the late, great Payne Stewart, Mark O'Meara, David Duval and Stuart Appleby set out to play this, the latest gem in Ireland's golfing crown.

"Well worth the wait" Tiger observed as the mist lifted and he got the breath taking view from the l5th tee. The fairway is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and tumbles like a cascade much like the famous llth at Ballybunion.

"This has to be one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen in golf " Tiger added. And his companions on their way the British Open were just as complimentary.

"This has to be one of the most spectacular locations I have ever seen for a golf course "said Mark O'Meara "and the holes along by the sea are especially lovely, when the wind blows, this course will take on an entirely new character."

"The beauty of the place will make it a must for tourists from the U.S. but anyone who has a love of golf and scenic beauty should make a point of playing here, its as simple as that."

But even before these golfing greats teed up, the Old Head, twenty miles south of Cork city, had been given the stamp of approval by the great amateur and former captain of the Royal and Ancient, Joe Carr.

Admittedly Joe, three times winner of the British Amateur title had been a design consultant for the course along with the legendary Eddie Hackett, Ron Kirby and Paddy Merrigan, so one would expect him to be lavish in his praise.
But Joe would never say anything which might rebound on him or on his reputation as a straight shooter.

"The Old Head of Kinsale as a golf links, will, in my estimation rate with the great courses in the world." Carr insisted.
"Its location, scenic reality and spectacular terrain remind me of Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, two of America's most famous courses", he added. "To be associated with the design of this course is to me, the thrill of a life time."

"I see Old Head as a golfer's paradise with the potential of being the eight wonder of the world in golfing terms." Praise indeed and sitting just seven miles from the harbour town of Kinsale, now considered the gourmet capital of Ireland gives these splendid links extra bonus points.

The Old Head of Kinsale is a National monument and an old Roman site, fortified by a castle at the narrowest part of the headland and complete with a lighthouse built in 1853 and a series of small stone circles, thought to be the remains of Iron Age dwellings.

Perhaps it all seems too good to be true but in fact its not., everyone who has played there has come away enthralled both by the beauty and the quality of the place, a location and course to rival the celebrated courses on the Monterey Peninsula.

My long time colleague , golf writer Charlie Mulqueen from The Examiner newspaper has played most of the great courses on both sides of the Atlantic, so he knows quality when he sees it. He wrote : "a golfing location that will never be rivalled in terms of drama and beauty."

There is probably nobody in Ireland with a greater knowledge of or a greater appreciation for a great golf layout than Christy O'Connor Senior, so when he says : "I have just seen the finest six holes in all of golf", its time to sit up and take notice.

The cliff top holes have grabbed most of the headlines since the course was opened in June 1997 which is not surprising with the second hugging the cliff top with a green which looks ready to topple into the Atlantic, two hundred feet below.

The third is a 165 yards par three with the green again overlooking the ocean while the next - a 420 yards par four - is a longer and perhaps more spectacular version of the second.

And so it goes, a rare adventure on a course which has no playing restrictions and a green fee of £120. And when the intrepid golfer reaches the clubhouse, he can avail of a full restaurant service overseen by Jackie and Urban Mutter.

The course, which closes from November until April, has been undergoing some extensive renovations in recent months which will lengthen - to 7,300 yards -and enhance the lay out but all will be ready for a swinging summer for which they have already had more than 20,000 reservations.

Contact Fiona McDonald for reservations. Telephone :- (00353) 21 778444.Fax :- (00353) 21 778022


© Tom Keogh 2000

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