Mount Temple Golf and Country Club could hardly be more centrally located in the whole island as the 30-foot spiral that marks the centre of Ireland can be seen from the course. Michael Dolan designed and built this 18-hole layout which opened in 1991. The property had been farmed by generations of his family before him but he had other plans, converting the estate farmhouse to a clubhouse, the barn to changing rooms and the fields into fairways!
The result is a labour of love – a quaint, some would say quirky, golf course that is so very Irish! Mount Temple was constructed on the site of Greanan Castle, once the seat of power for the McCauley’s in the 15th century, and some of the old castle walls are part of the new clubhouse. Out on the course, there are the remains of several ring forts and the ruins of an old abbey.
More poignantly, little ridges and ripples on some fairways – remnants of old potato fields – have been left intact, the owner refusing to level them in honour of the hundreds of thousands in Ireland who died in the great potato famine from 1845 to 1849.
Laid out on largely unaltered, rolling terrain, the holes of Mount Temple are simply routed to make the best use of the natural landscape – and if that means the odd blind shot here and there then so be it. The result is a tough little cookie measuring 6,459 yards with a par of 72.
The 13th, a 433-yard long par four dubbed “Augusta” by the locals, requires a mighty blow from the tee to reach a hill that runs across the fairway. If the drive does not get that far, the approach to the green will be played blind. The 493-yard par five 16th, named “Heartbreak Hill” by the members, doglegs right to a pulpit green with a pond offering protection to the left – a par or better is a very fine score.