I have just been lucky enough to have played 23 of Ireland's finest courses during the last fortnight. In conversation, most people asked are you playing Carne, Lahinch, Ballybunion, County Down, Portrush? Nobody mentioned the Island. It's probably a stretch to call the Island a hidden gem, sitting deservedly in Ireland's top 10 as it does, but it did feel like The Island flew under the radar somewhat before I had the pleasure of playing it.
Speaking to Members, they raved about the new Scottish Head Greenkeeper Neil Ballingall and the improvements he has made in a short time since starting. I found the course enchanting, teeing off as the sun rose over the Irish Sea. The 4th is a picturesque par three and epitomised the front nine which meandered through the dunes with a sense of benign seclusion from all other golfers. The back nine is more open and closer to the water - there we find the two contenders for the course's signature hole imo. I was left with no doubt playing the long par three 13th that this would be the outstanding hole, until I stood on the 14th tee. At just over 300 yards, it doesn't look jaw-dropping on the card but the golfer is faced with reputedly the narrowest fairway in Europe, water all down the right and rough and dunes on the left. Fortunately there was little or no wind when I played it and my driver (should have hit 5 iron!) thankfully found the slither of fairway but I shudder to think how this would play on a typically blustery links day with a nasty left to right crosswind. The 18th is a fine two shotter finale to a raised green, an honest but enjoyable hole which sums up the Island nicely. Whilst the dunes are not as dramatically large as Tralee or Ballybunion, there is a confident, understated feel to The Island - be in no doubt however, The Island is a superb course and the welcome from the staff (Connor, Keith, Nathan and others) was equally high-standard. I would definitely recommend adding the Island to an Irish golf trip and given it's close proximity to Dublin airport it is in an ideal location even for a weekend golf break where you could throw in Portmarnock, Baltray and even The European slightly further South to your itinerary.
Date: October 12, 2021