If the adjacent County Louth course is off the golfing radar of most people then Seapoint must be positively subterranean in comparison! Maybe it’s because it has only been in existence for such a short time – it was only designed by Des Smyth in the early 1990s – that it is taking some time to build a reputation next to a course established in 1892 that still struggles for recognition!
Seapoint is a championship course that extends to over 7,100 yards from the back tees, with a par of 72. Located beside Termonfeckin Beach on the east coast and with fantastic views of the Cooley and Mourne Mountains in the background, it is routed through two hundred and sixty acres of largely unspoiled, rugged links land.
Former Irish Amateur Internationalist Declan Branigan assisted in the original design and he was the driving force behind further course developments in 2004/5, including the introduction of some water hazards on several of the opening holes.
The first few holes have a parkland feel to them as trees border the west side of the property. The 443-yard 4th and 423-yard 5th are two back-to-back par fours where water comes into play around the greens to make life difficult early on.
The majority of the round is then played out on fairly open, intuitively laid out links with crisp fairways, imaginative bunkering and firm greens. The rough, however, is punishing for any truly wayward shots. A particularly demanding stretch occurs at the long par fours – all over four hundred yards long – from the 11th (with nine bunkers) to the 14th (with a blind green).
The four closing holes are sited in sand hills running along the shore and they culminate in the closing 560-yard par five, where some original bunkers have been removed in recent remodeling and the putting surface re-contoured.
The tough part in being located immediately next to a superstar course is sometimes the comparisons can cause an unrealistic expectation on the merits of the other. Not many situations mirror the likes of Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America being side-by-side!
In my first visit to the immediate area my initial round came at County Louth. Naturally, I was smitten and a few of the folks there suggested I schedule a round at next door neighbor Seapoint.
Seapoint is a split personality course. There are clearly holes of interest, but to be fair, there are also holes where you are simply biding time to get to the ones that really are memorable.
One needs to wait till you arrive at the par-4s at the 4th and 5th holes -- with water to be avoided on the approach shots. I also enjoyed the dog-leg right 7th. However, the qualities of the course really start to happen with the inward side.
The stretch of par-4 holes from the 12th thru the 14th is very good. You then reach the ending trio located nearest to the sea. The short par-4 16th is quite sneaky. The hole invites the big tee shot but it pays to finish on the left side of the fairway for the best angle into the green. The par-3 17th is well done -- bolstered by a lengthy narrow green that is quick to dismiss anything short of top tier execution. The concluding par-5 also tries to seduce players into a reckless gambit. The fairway necks down considerably and missing to either side can mean a struggle to escape with a par.
The issue with Seapoint is having far too many vanilla holes -- absent serious details especially with the greensites. It's too bad because the need for such details would really add a good deal to one's time there. The course is a fun layout for the masses but for serious architectural bloodhound there's little doubt you'll be spending more meaningful time at its renown neighbor next door.
M. James Ward
There has been some discussion on the site about the authenticity of Seapoint's links claims. My view is that only holes 3, 4 and 5 are not links holes. As a result the vast majority of the holes are links with at least 6, firmly in dunescape. If the front 9 was as good as the back, Seapoint would be be in the 3rd quartile of the top 100 in GB&I. Holes 7, 8 and from 12 in are outstanding with the 18th up there with memorable finishing holes. This is a substantial golf course which tests your long game. The greens range from flat to moderate contouring, which personally is what greens should be (especially when the route to the greens are challenging). Good course which is definitely worth a play.
Seapoint measures just under 6,500 metres from the blue tees and just over 6,100 metres from the white tees. It has an excellent short-game practice facility as it has a putting green, chipping/pitching green, and another green with practice bunkers to get the short game ready for the course. Seapoint is neighbors with County Louth Golf Club (or Baltray). Baltray originated in 892 and hosted the 2004 and 2009 Irish Opens. It seems like the good genes of Baltray have carried over to Seapoint.
The condition of Seapoint was excellent when we visited. The greens and fairways were very well maintained. The greens had a Donald Ross flavor as several of the greens have a crowned design. It felt like we were on a parkland course early during the round with trees and water hazards. That feeling soon ended with the exceptional views of the Irish Sea later in the round. Views of the neighboring Baltray could also be seen from Seapoint. The links had well placed fairway and greenside bunkers and the course was fair with good shots rewarded while poor shots could lead to trouble.
When making my reservations over the internet, noticed weekends were pretty crowded while weekdays had plenty of times available. It was good to have a nice peaceful setting to play this challenging links. Would highly recommend Seapoint Golf Club to anyone that wants to play an exceptional links with great views at a reasonable price. I don't think anyone would be disappointed. Looking forward to a return trip someday. Jim Brady