The Cloonacastle Estate dates back to the early 13th century and a number of local dynasties – including the Bourke, Egan and Walsh families – looked after its affairs down the years before the final occupiers, the Hobans, sold the property to Ballinrobe Golf Club in 1992, a couple of years before the club celebrated its centenary.
One of the last layouts that Eddie Hackett designed, the fairways of this sumptuous parkland course are routed around a large, 300-acre estate, with small water hazards coming into play at several of the holes. Par is set at 73, largely because there are five par fives on the scorecard, three on the front nine and two on the back nine.The signature hole at Ballinrobe is regarded as the 401-yard par four 10th, where the tee is set close to some ancient fortifications. Out of bounds runs the full length of the hole, along the left side of the fairway, so a long and accurate tee shot is required for golfers who want to take on the water-fronted green in two shots.
The best bit first - the greens are excellent. They hold a shot and roll very true at a good pace. The bad bit - the course is boring. Only two holes stand out in the memory - 10 and 11. Think of a resort course that just goes up and down over flat ground, around a couple of trees. It is just long with no demands on accuracy. The fairways are wide, sometimes 50 metres, and there is nothing around the greens. Just bang it down the fairway, bang it towards the green. If you miss the green the chip is fairly simple on mostly flat greens. It is reasonably priced but not a test of golf.