Old Head, New Tricks
Old Head in Ireland is one of the most exhilarating courses you will ever play. Just ask professional golfer Tiger Woods or former US president Bill Clinton. It is set on the edge of the world – literally! – the headland reaches out about 3 kilometres over the Atlantic and presents one of the most dramatic views for a game of golf.
THE STORY BEHIND OLD COURSE
“A rush of the blood to the head” was what the creator behind Old Head, John O’Connor, described the decision to spend €19 million to buy the land for the course. His ambition was to produce “one of the top 10 international courses and ultimately the world’s leading golf club.”
In 1993, the building of The Links began with four of the world’s top course designers – Ron Kirby, Paddy Merrigan, J.B. Carr & Eddie Hackett. The site was so challenging and sensitive that they tried 41 different routings over 4 years before they eventually got it right.
“I see the Old Head as a golfer’s paradise and it has the potential of being the eighth wonder of the world, in golfing terms.” – Joe Carr
The course marries elements of links and cliff-top golf to create a spectacular layout. More than half of the holes play on the edge of the headland with the fairways seemingly falling off the cliff, making for an intimidating, yet thrilling setting as you tee-off.
The weather plays a big role here. Gale force winds can blast from the Atlantic, rain can pour sideways, or you could play in perfect conditions. No two days of golf here are the same, but it does not take away the experience you get at Old Head.
Do not think this course is made only for the elite, there are multiple tee boxes that facilitate for golfers with different skills and abilities.
“Anyone who has a love of golf and scenic beauty should make a point of playing here, it’s as simple as that.” – Mark O’Meara
The course favourite is the 12th hole. It has been described as the “most outrageous hole in golf”, so much so it even made an impression on Tiger Woods who wanted the hole re-christened and named “holy s**t”.
The 12th is a ‘do-or-die’ par 5 that has you tee-off right on the cliff-edge and requires you to follow that line 200 yards to the fairway.
Once you eventually reach the green you will putt 300 feet above a bird sanctuary, further reinstating that this hole is beauty every step of the way.
DID YOU KNOW
Offshore from Old Head is the site of many famous shipwrecks, including one that became a pivotal moment in the 20th century. Lusitania, the world’s largest passenger liner at the time, was sunk by a German torpedo in 1915 a couple of miles off the site – this was thought to be a significant influence in the United States’ decision to join World War I.
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