There's gold in them hills... It was April 2016 in a northwest corner of Ireland, and we expected some tough weather. We got it, of course, in spades, but what we also got was two days of golfing majesty.
If the greens staff were to immediately fill in every bunker, Carne would not become the first bunkerless course in history, but it would inarguably be crowned as the best. It simply doesn't need them. The terrain pushes and pulls you in such fantastic fashion that big holes in the ground half-filled with sand would feel strangely artificial and, in my humble opinion, entirely unnecessary.
There are no weak holes on the course. If I had to pick my least favourite, it would be the 4th, a par 5, which sits at the outskirts of the dunescape on the lowest-lying piece of land, furthest from the sea. Almost every other hole on the course is simply superb.
I'll try to avoid boring you by giving a hole-by-hole account of my dad's and my experience, but as you battle through the fierce winds, soaking in the breathtaking Atlantic views to the right of holes 13 and 14, the staggering altitude difference between the 16th's tee and green, back up to my favourite 17th, and down the wonderfully dramatic 18th, you'll be ecstatic that you made the voyage to this remote but gorgeous golfing outpost.
It's been a full year since we played Carne, but the joy we felt over those 36 holes hasn't diminished. In fact, we're plotting our return. It will test your ball control to the limit whilst exciting your senses beyond measure.
If anyone were to criticise this course, I imagine they'd point their crooked little finger at the conditioning of the greens. If it's Royal County Down you're after, then you're looking in entirely the wrong place.
Make no mistake: Carne is an absolute masterpiece.
Date: April 04, 2017