Muskerry Golf Club was founded in 1907, when local farmers Jerome Dorgan and Timothy O’Keeffe made land available for John McNamara (the club’s first professional) to lay out a 9-hole course. The formal opening of the layout took place on 4th May, 1907, with an exhibition match played between John and his brother Willie McNamara from Lahinch.
The club purchased additional land in 1924 and Alister MacKenzie was approached to extend the layout to eighteen holes. The architect visited in June that year and recommended that two of the existing nine holes should be abandoned and eleven new ones fashioned. By Spring the following year, the new layout was ready for play.
The scheme was estimated to cost £2,500 but expenditure ran to well over £3,000. A number of members then paid several years’ worth of subscriptions in advance to avert a financial crisis. MacKenzie outlined the design and his construction crew carried out the instructions.
County Galway native Jack Fleming was head constructor and the group of workers involved in the Muskerry project also carried out subsequent course development work at clubs in Cork, Monkstown and Douglas, as well as Limerick and Lahinch.
Today, the course extends to 5,861 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 71. Interestingly, there are good old-fashioned crossover holes played at the par three 6th and par four 18th, where shots to both greens have to carry to opposite sides of the River Shournagh.
Some lovely finishing holes here. A good test of golf but is reasonably short. Greens are lovely. The 6th is as good a par 3 as you will ever find.
A really good ‘club’ course around Cork City. The first thing that stands out for me are the quality of the greens (mainly subtle slopes but the speed of them is what sets it apart from other similar courses). It’s also quite a varied course, some significant changes in elevation (which makes it a tough walk for some people) are spread out quite evenly around, and the par 4s are a mix of shorter and longer ones, culminating in perhaps the strongest and most exciting finish in the area (and that’s including all the local big guns, although I haven’t played Old Head).
Stand out holes for me would be hole 6, a long iron or fairway wood Par 3, with a big valley in front of you all the way to the hole and a raised green: anything short or right will leave you well below the green, and all this is in front of the clubhouse so likely a few onlookers for added pressure. Hole 14 par 5 takes a few goes to find the right strategy for your own game, from the high tee a big downhill drive awaits, with the fairway turning right with a big tree on the left just beyond the landing area. So a ball on the right hand side would seem best, but the second half of the hole has a massive right to left camber, which is more easily approached from the left hand side.
The last 4 holes have been branded as the ‘Shournagh Challenge’, after the local river, although it doesn’t really come into play until the 17th. 15th is a drop-down par 3, hole 16 is a straightaway par 4 where the drive is the key shot. Hole 17 is one of the toughest in the area, a long tree-lined par 4 with the river guarding the green 20 yards short. I’m a 12 handicap and have never been on the putting surface after 2 shots (maybe 15 attempts). And hole 18 is a medium length par 4 with the river guarding the approach again, although slightly diagonally this time. Trees also come into play, narrowing the angles.
After the 4 standout courses in the area (Old Head, Castlemartyr, Fota and Cork GC), Muskerry is as good as any other option for a local game.