Ballybunion (Cashen) - Kerry - Ireland

Ballybunion Golf Club,
Ballybunion,
Co. Kerry,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 68 27146

The Old course at Ballybunion is a tough act to follow and when new land was purchased in 1971, Robert Trent Jones had his work cut out to create a complementary second course. He was clearly thrilled to have been asked to fashion the new layout and he said: “When I first saw the piece of land chosen for the new course of Ballybunion, I was thrilled beyond words. I said that it was the finest piece of links land that I had ever seen, and perhaps the finest piece of links land in the world. With the ocean on one side and the river on the other, its tumbling, undulating, free-flowing rhythm of line is beauty beyond description.”

In the early 1980s, Ballybunion’s new course, the Cashen, was ready for play and ever since, American visitors have besieged the place. The Cashen is set amongst even taller, more alarming, sand dunes than the Old course and its feel is slightly harder, despite being over 300 yards shorter in length, possibly because the fairways are tighter. It is a cliché to say that the course looks natural and plays as though it has been laid out for a hundred years rather than a couple of decades, but it is a tribute to Trent Jones; he resisted the temptation to do anything other than going with the flow of the land and using its natural form to full potential. The result is a solid golf course despite a lack of the ground option and the greens being rather too small.

Ballybunion is an unforgettable experience, with two thoroughly bewitching courses. Everyone comes here to play the Old course, which is understandable, but don't dismiss the Cashen. It is an interesting second course and despite dividing opinion it's certainly not dull.

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Reviews for Ballybunion (Cashen)

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Description: Ballybunion Golf Club is unforgettable. Everyone comes here to play the Old course, but do not overlook the wild and controversial Cashen. Rating: 6.4 out of 10 Reviews: 22
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Alex Westenfield
Played in Sept. 2008 with our club group and uniformly denounced the course overall as "never would play again", which is too bad because the oceanside holes have great views and actually are pretty good golf holes. The rest are near-despicable. I wonder if RTJ Sr. ever actually saw the finished product befor putting his name to it. At least you have the Old Course and good clubhouse food.
December 05, 2008
2 / 10
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Jim McCann

One of my playing partners (a teaching golf professional) described the Cashen course design as “RTJ on drugs” but I’ll try to be a little more circumspect with my comments, Ballybunion (Cashen) - Photo by Jim McCanndespite the fact that it has also been described as “the ‘Apolcalypse Now’ of links golf – controversial, occasionally self-indulgent, excessive, surreal and contrived.

After a very promising start at the opening four holes, the short par four 5th brought the first raised eyebrows of the round with its pulpit green (thirty two yards wide and 8 yards deep) perched on the side of an enormous dune.

I’ve just double checked the photos I took at the time to confirm that it wasn’t ME on drugs playing to such a shallow, oddly-positioned target -- and then I discover later that this is a modified green, repositioned from the original that was sited higher up!

I’m afraid our three ball lost a good deal of interest in completing the round (though we did) long before reaching the 18th as the severe elevation changes, long walks from green to the next tee and the peculiar routing took their toll.

There ARE some wonderful holes but there is no balance or flow to the round, just 18 individual holes, somehow strung together. Mr Jones was 74 when he laid out the Cashen and it’s not hard to see why he was never a designer of links courses -- despite the wonderful landscape he had to work with here.

I understand Martin Hawtree might rework the Cashen course -- not before time, some might say -- as the site really deserves to be held in as high esteem as the Old course beside it.

Jim McCann

May 07, 2008
6 / 10
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Richard Smith
September 21, 2010
Jim, this is just a lousy golf course that needs to be torn up and redone. The fifth green is just one of many design fiascos that run through this course. There are a few good holes but I agree that there is no flow or continuity. I would prefer Tom Doak to redesign the course but I think Hawtree will do a great job as well.
Cédric
In fairness, the land occupied by the Cashen course is even more spectacular than the one under the Old Course. Some of the holes are really stunning but I am afraid this is all for the positive points. The whole place is just too quirky, the walks between green and tee is way too long (a RTJ signature??) and the routing very poor (they have signs all over the place so one doesn’t get lost, which really would happen in the minute if they weren’t there). A shame really because there is definitely huge potential in that terrain!! A renovation project (on its way??) could make this place what Doonbeg tried to achieve: the best modern links course in the World!! Cedric
May 02, 2008
6 / 10
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Patrick Skakel
Went over the south west ireland at the start of the summer and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Played both courses at Ballybunion, Waterville and the Kileen course at Killarney. I have to say that the Cashen was the most dissapointing of all 4. There is no doubt that the cashen could be a great course, but it is clear that the greenkeepers spend 90% of their time on the Old Course. The cashen has a fantastic location, but lacks decent maintainence. The state of some of the holes was sad really. This course has alot of potential, but with daisies growing everywhere and greens which are barely smoother than fairways at points, it is not great at the moment. It seemed that the further you got from the clubhouse, the worse the condition of the course got. The holes nearer the clubhouse were in pretty good condition!
February 12, 2008
4 / 10
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neville Stepehns
Played Cashen in August 2007 on a sunny calm day. The course was in magnificent condition and provided a real test for an average golfer like me. Play straight and its OK. Off the fairway and you are most likely dead. Had an absolute ball and it is the first time in my life that one of my drives went 340 yards. For people who have played the course will know the hole I mean. I hope to come back one day. Thank you.
September 23, 2007
8 / 10
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DT
Played the Cashen and the Old within a week of each other. Its difficult to say which I preferred. The Cashen in the wind is the most brutal test of golf I have ever experienced. I overshot my handicap by 29 shots and loved every minute of it. Drivers into par threes into the wind and wedges 160 yards with the wind behind. As for cross winds... bring plenty of balls.
August 08, 2007
10 / 10
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David
The Cashen is in my view a better course than it more illustrious neighbour. Many of the tees are played from high positions to fairways below and the course is much 'fairer' than the Old Course. I do not agree that it is not possible to score well: i played to my handicap on both courses. If you play both and choose an eclectic 18 you would probably end up with 9 holes from each course. Whatever you do dont miss the younger brother if you come to Ballybunion.
February 09, 2006
8 / 10
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Richard Smith
I'm not a fan of the Cashen course. I played it twice in September,2000. I consider Ballybunion Old to be one of the greatest links in the UK, but the Cashen course is just too severe to be enjoyable. The course is only 6300 yards, but it is almost impossible to score decently. The majority of the drives are to angled fairways. With brutal high rough and severe crosswinds it becomes almost impossible to drive the ball in play. There are also several holes with brutal slopes around the greens as well. In addiiton, several holes have fairways that end in mid hole requiring a lay up off the tee with a ridiculouslly long 2nd shot to a severe green. I'm not a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. fan and this course confirmed my already low opinion of him. I would play the Old course at Ballybunion every day for the rest of my life. I don't believe I would play the Cashen course again even if it was for free.
November 20, 2005
4 / 10
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Billy

Don't go to Ballybunion just to play the Old course, make sure you put the Cashen high up on your itinerary, it's a stunning ramble through the dunes (or in our case, a hair-raising cart ride). There are no weak holes, but perhaps one or two that could be described as quirky. We took a cart on the Cashen and I can honestly say that it was a frightening experience and you find yourself having to traverse close to greens and tees which to be honest is sacrilege... this is not really a course where carts should be allowed - sooner or later carts will destroy the delicate turf. Anyway, for me the Cashen is a decent counterbalance to the Old which frankly disappointed me.

September 18, 2005
6 / 10
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Kevan Voce
Both courses are tremendous. The Old is more highly rated and I guess it is because of the greens and the surrounds that reward only the best shots. I played with two others and we enjoyed this more than the old - the reason being the fun factor. Many holes with elevated tees and spectacular rolling fairways. If you are in this part of the world then play both!
July 15, 2005
10 / 10
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