Cork is certainly one of the most attractive courses in Ireland. It's delightfully situated on Little Island, a tiny peninsula, which juts out into the lovely Lough Mahon, in the estuary of the River Lee. The views across Cork Harbour are quite stunning.
Cork Golf Club was originally established in 1888 and the club had several homes before it finally came to rest on the free-draining limestone of Little Island. Nine holes were originally laid out by the club's inaugural Scottish professional, David Brown, and the famous English architect Tom Dunn. In 1927, the original nine holes were revised and a further nine holes were added by Dr Alister MacKenzie, who, at the time, was busily reconstructing Lahinch. In 1975, Frank Pennink performed a few minor changes.
MacKenzie had a great talent for putting nature to the best possible use and he was certainly on top form at Cork. He combined an old quarry and the undulating links-like ground to marvellous effect, but it is the greens that bear MacKenzie's hallmark... large, undulating and, during the height of summer, frighteningly fast. This championship parkland course measures 6,731 yards from the back tees and over the years it's certainly tested the world's very best golfers. In the 1932 Irish Open, Alf Padgham narrowly beat the challenging Henry Cotton.
The opening three holes are fairly gentle and offer up a birdie opportunity or two, but Cork really begins to show its mettle when you reach the river at the 4th, a demanding 455-yard par four. It's a classic risk and reward hole, where your tee shot must carry across rough, dead ground to a distant undulating fairway. The more you cut off, the easier the approach shot to one of Cork's smallest and most challenging greens. In a similar vein, the par five 5th also runs parallel with the river and also requires a long carry off the tee. You need a precise approach shot, because the green is seemingly cut into the side of the river. It's a cracker.
A portrait of Cork's most famous golfing son hangs in clubhouse – 1946 British Amateur Champion, Jimmy Bruen. Bruen's swing was reminiscent of that of today's Jim Furyk. “He had not a very graceful or orthodox swing,” wrote Bernard Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, “appearing to take the club very much inwards and bring it down with a loop at the top; he was rather a forcing player, but what force there was behind his shots! how consistently he played them and with what a masterful confidence!”
The beautiful clubhouse has been recently renovated (2002) and in the 2005 won the AIB clubhouse of the year award – very well deserved we think.
There's some amazing golf to be had in Cork, Ireland's largest county, and no trip to this area would be complete without playing the excellent and historic Cork Golf Club.
We played Cork Golf Club in the Cyder Cup 4 years ago over 5 hours in Monsoon-like weather and loved it. There were puddles on the practice green and we still went out and played a full round in those conditions. The clubhouse guys were very friendly and were amazed we were going out to play in it. I found the course brilliantly varied and interesting. One of the holes had a big carry over the water from the tee and as we played into the prevailing strong wind, we all struggled to carry it even though we are moderately big hitters. If we were to come back to Cork, I would love to play it in better conditions as I thought it was a superb track!
This is not a links course and strictly not even a seaside course and yet it feels every bit like one. It is located on a peninsula near Cork on the banks of Lough Mahon, which is a widening of the River Lee, shortly before it discharges into the Celtic Sea. But what's more important than that: it's an Alister MacKenzie design and features stunning holes along the river and through a quarry, as well as some very competent inland holes that play every bit as firm and fast. I have been told that two weeks prior to my arrival the course was actually brown, which is a rarity in Ireland. Click the link to read more… Ireland – any decent golf on the West Coast?