I could have been at Yale…..or maybe the Old Course ………playing the 9th and 10th at The Island. The front nine closes with a short par 3 featuring a Biarritz green…..even better than most of Seth Raynor’s versions as the back half slopes hard down toward a bunker on the left. The next hole calls for a drive over the out of bounds stakes to have any chance of reaching the green in two……albeit it does lack the railroad sheds of St. Andrews.
The rest of The Island is equally good with much of it running through mighty dunes., The golfer gets exposure to all wind directions as a few holes run north-south with the prevailing routing is north-south. The separation created by the dunes relieves the tedium found in many courses with parallel visible holes. Numbers 10-13 are not among the dunes, but are just as strong as the others.
The only weak hole on the course is the 333 yard 14th. When members used to arrive by boat from across the river in Malahide, they started on the current 14th, which was then a par 3, and finished on the current 13th, also a par 3. With the removal of the clubhouse to its current location, the course had consecutive par 3s and that didn’t sit well. So the 14th was lengthened into a par 4. Unfortunately, with the river on the right and high grass on the left, this new hole only had room for a narrow fairway—the width where I measured was 28 feet. That the hole is best played with two middle irons gives a sense of its dubious quality. A drivable par 4, with the green in the dunes behind the 15th tee, would have been a better solution.
But I protest too much. With as fine a set of contoured greens as you’ll find anywhere, plenty of opportunities to play the running game and holes with a great variety of lengths (the par 4s run from 296 yards to 465) and configurations (half a dozen doglegs), The Island is a delight from start to finish. Lahinch is my favorite course in the Republic, but The Island is a close second.
Date: June 04, 2016