Lahinch – Goats, Boats but no birds

Gary and David at the famous Lahinch Barometer (refer below)

After a relaxing nights sleep at Kevin and Taba’s with a home cooked breakfast by Kevin we headed off to Lahinch Golf Club, a top 50 rated course for our mid morning game. As is becoming customary our warmup consisted of running from the car, swinging our arms as we walked, putting on our glove and bending down to put the ball on the tee. Not the ideal preparation but it seemed to work with both our drives splitting the first fairway.

The course is tough but fun. It places a premium on driving accuracy with many drives requiring pin point precision through the dunes, a feature we are becoming used to.

A number of course changes over 10 years ago by Martin Hawtree has improved the course significantly, including opening up vistas on several holes with new green sites also being constructed. There is so much good land at Lahinch and one could easily visualise additional holes feeding their way through this landscape.

The par 3 holes are a feature of the course offering challenging tee shots to heavily bunkered greens with fall off areas for shots not struck perfectly. Many of the par 4’s required long irons or more to reach the putting surface.

The club has been focussed on improving the golfer experience, both visually and in the challenge of the golf course. Grassed pathways have replaced previously unsightly gravel paths giving a sense of flow to the start and finish of each hole.

The original course was designed by Old Tom Morris with Dr. Alister MacKenzie recommending a fair bit of work on the putting surfaces to create a greater challenge.

The club showed great foresight a number of years ago by constructing a rock retaining wall along the boundary between the course and the ocean. This will prevent deterioration of the oceanside golf holes from the heavy seas that are common in this part of the world.

Paddy, our host and past Captain of the club, has grown up around Lahinch and was recalling countless amusing stories during the round. Among the more memorable was his way of extracting some excitement from many of the visiting American golfers. The 5th hole is a blind par 3 where the pin cannot be seen from the tee. As a caddie of the group in front Paddy would sneak back to the 5th green – unseen by the approaching golfers. He would pick up the ball and place the ball in the hole. He would then wait for the roar and chuckle to himself.

If by chance you are American and played Lahinch in the 70’s, scoring a hole in one on the 5th, just ignore this story!

Paddy also tells select visitors that the large depression in the fairway on the 6th hole is the result of a German bomb dropped during World War 2. We almost believed it until we saw Paddy with a slight smile on his face.

The Lahinch Barometer sits inside the clubhouse. Rather than showing air pressure it has a note that simply says “see goats” – a reference to the local inhabitants who are extremely accurate in predicting the weather. If you see them heading back to the clubhouse then beware of the incoming weather.

A 2 hour drive from Lahinch to our accommodation alongside Ballybunion – Teach de Broc including a 20 minute ferry ride across the water. Aoife, Seamus and Dermot operate a very friendly, comfortable 14 guestroom property a mere 3 iron away from the golf course. Perfect location and a great place to stay if you are visiting.

Shot of the Day

Another departure from our normal shot of the day. After David blistered a hybrid from the rough on the par 5 18th 220 metres to 30 feet we were all set to award this the shot of the day. But the script had to be rewritten. With Kevin and Gary being 1 down to David and Paddy coming to the last hole the scene was tense. David was safely on the green and Kevin was 50 metres short of the green. A delicate gap wedge into the hole for an eagle 3 halved the match and clearly won the shot of the day.

Overall birdie tally

Gary (0 birdies, cumulative 41)
David (0 birdies, cumulative 14)

Tomorrow we tackle both courses at Ballybunion – the Old and Cashen courses. Exciting times and hopefully the weather will hold. Stay tuned…

By golfselect

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