Eddie Hackett certainly knew how to route a golf course. And at Carne he got a piece of land that allowed his genius to show through. One can just imagine the former Portmarnock professional tromping through the marram grass locating one delightful green site after another. The result is 16 holes that from tee to green are as good as it gets. Only the two par 5s at the extremes of the course (the 4th and the 13th) are ordinary. Moreover, Carne manages to challenge the golfer while employing minimal bunkering, another testament to Hackett’s work.
The issue at Carne for me, however, is that the greens do not measure up to the routing. With a few exceptions (most notably # 14), they are rather flat and not particularly imaginative—an unfortunate counterpoint to the excitement the course provides from tee to green. Had Hackett been able to match the creativity of the routing on the greens, we’d have a course to match the best on the island.
Americans who love links golf do so for the firm and fast conditions that are so rare on our side of the Atlantic. On my most recent visit, Carne played neither firm nor fast. The fairways hadn’t been cut in some time and were infested with wildflowers. And the greens read 7.8 on my stimpmeter—the slowest of eight courses I played on the island in May 2016.
Date: May 29, 2016