By whatever measure links courses are adjudged by, the Old Course at Ballybunion is part of the yardstick.
It is here, since 1893, that Irish golf has furthered a reputation for adapting course to land. The warm accolades for the Old Course are virtually unanimous and deservedly so. The generosity that pours from golfers who played well above their handicaps is testament enough to the combined beauty, ruggedness, and seaside power of this Irish rose.
The 11th is indicative of the character of this course. Hard by the sea, the green is protected by mounding – huge high mounding at that – which blocks a leftward drive. But the seeming narrowness of the right hand landing area is so very demanding. Should the wind live up to or exceed the players expectations, the challenge and looming trouble at the green are compounded. It is the sort of course that can leave you shaking your head, but smiling regardless.
A must play? Without question.