The Fota Island course is located close to Cork City, situated within a 780-acre estate which is included in "The Inventory of Outstanding Landscapes in Ireland". The course is laid out on rolling parkland and framed by mature woodland with stunning views across Cork Harbour.
Early records suggest that golf was first played at Fota Island back in 1886, but the club was not founded until 1993. Former British Amateur Champion Peter McEvoy and Irish Ryder Cup star, Christy O'Connor, originally designed the course. In 1998, Fota Island was stiffened up to European Tour standards by Canadian architect, Jeff Howes, in readiness for its first Murphy's Irish Open, which saw Colin Montgomerie emerge victorious. The Irish Open returned to Fota Island in 2002 and Soren Hansen eventually won after an exciting four-way playoff.
Wide fairways and light rough are features of Fota Island, but don't let this lull you into a false sense of security. The course can be stretched to 6,927 yards and with par set at 71 for men (72 for ladies), it represents a very tough but fair challenge. And, considering its relative youth, it appears mature beyond its tender years. Bunkering is relatively moderate, but water is a significant hazard, so take enough balls just in case your game is not on song.
Our favourite hole at Fota Island is the unique par five 10th, which tunnels down through trees before turning sharply left, leaving an approach to a green which is cut into the lakeside. The 18th is a memorable conclusion and it's also a potential card-wrecker. In a similar vein to the Belfry's 18th, water is in evidence, but it's the multi-tiered green that can present all sorts of problems – there's nothing worse than ending up in possible four-putt country.
Undoubtedly the remodelled Fota Island is a tremendous course, which comes highly regarded by the serious golfing connoisseur. Fortunately, four separate teeing areas make the course eminently playable for the handicap golfer, so whatever you do, don't give Fota Island a miss.
Following the addition of nine new Jeff Howes designed holes at Fota Island, which opened for play in August 2007, the 27-hole Fota Island has renamed the original 18-hole course Deerpark. Deerpark seems a strange choice of names as Ireland already has a fine course at Carlow Golf Club named Deerpark. Click the link to read Jeff Howes' press release: Fota Island gets nine new holes
Played Fota Island Deerpark course about 4 years ago in the Cyder Cup. I thought it was in excellent condition and the practice green was tremendous. Considering it has held the Irish Open I was a little bit underwhelmed, but perhaps the fact that I didn't play great golf tarnished my view. The last hole is a great signature hole to finish on as its winds down to the clubhouse.
I would definitely play the course again.
Played Fota Island on a trip which also included Old Head and in many ways, I found Fota a better test of golf, although Old Head obviously has the location to die for. Everything about Fota is classy but in an understated and unpretentious sort of way. Is as tough as old boots - although only a par 71, it's almost 7,000 yards long...you need to bring your best driving game or it will be disheartening. It's a course for the better golfers and well worth a visit. However it's a design that won't set the pulse racing and is more than a tad déjà vu in sum.