If truth be told I only played Corballis because a good mate was a member there and he bullied me into it. I was on a rare weekend escape and my preference was to fritter away my hard earned euros at one of the impressively expensive shamrock-bait tracks that are so adept at taking a golfing tourist’s cash. I would then impress all my American golfing colleagues who think they’re Irish.
Corballis may not impress them much, but it did hit some sweet spots for me. Firstly, it’s proper links golf (which always earns bonus points). Box ticked. Secondly, it’s rife with blind shots, elevation changes, coastal views, and no small challenge with its narrow fairways, uneven lies, and dangerous rough. Not all links have all this. A few more boxes ticked. Furthermore, it’s not too long (admittedly due to a small property) and was inexpensive (it was tempting to ask the Pro if I could pay 2-3 times more so that I could feel comfortable in the knowledge I was getting a premium golf experience). So more boxes ticked. Finally, the greens ran incredibly true. For a quick & dirty municipal, this was a pleasant surprise. Highlights included the run of holes from 3 to 7 which explored some of the prime real estate, and several of the Par 3’s - holes such as 6 & 13 are simply excellent. Also a couple of Par 4’s on the back 9 stick in my mind.
Of course not everything is fabulous at Corballis and there is a reason why it’s currently ranked 97th in Ireland. Holes 8 & particularly 9 were low points and out of kilter with what had gone before. The out and back 15 & 16 also felt tagged on (I think that’s because they were in fact, tagged on). This leaves in my mind 14 worthy holes to enjoy. Occasionally 1 or 2 of these (on the inland side) feel hemmed in by an occasional unsightly boundary fence, with these limitations being due to the size of the property. Others may call for more fairway bunkering (not me though). The Island next door had clearly eaten up the lions share of better links land, but some tasty leftovers remained. It all makes me think that Corballis could have been a world class 9 holer. Or it could get a Tom Watson quote and then market itself as the best 13 hole course in Ireland.
I would recommend pairing Corballis up with The Island for a great day of golf, and playing Corballis first. For many visitors, it may offer a great first taste of Links golf in a humble inclusive setting. And if you’ve just crawled off of a long transatlantic flight, why waste an expensive green fee at a more famous track when you’re still half asleep? I actually did something similar with a group a few years ago when playing Braid Hills in Edinburgh, before heading out to East Lothian. We were exhausted after our flight from Amsterdam and it worked a treat. And when I visit the Monterey Peninsula, despite life being short, I will also play Pacific Grove. This feels like some kind of Golfing Scouting Code.
Back to Donabate: We visited Corballis the day before (or after) playing Killeen Castle. One is a Jack Nicklaus championship test that has hosted the Solheim Cup. And the other is quite simply a fun, memorable & good value experience (that I’d rather play). Don’t discount golf at Corballis just because Corballis is discounted golf. I do still wish my mate would join Portmarnock though
Date: December 18, 2019