You can't fail to enjoy the Old Course, voted No 6 in the Mulligan+ Top 100 UK and Ireland Courses.
With its magnificent setting right against the Atlantic Ocean. If the wind blows it can be very demanding but it is all in front of the golfer, with few blind shots if you take the recommended route. The course is maintained to a very high standard and, despite the enormous number of golfers gracing the fairways, it remains excellent in all respects. The greens are a good speed and very consistent. The local caddies provide plenty of advice on the greens as well as a bit of craic on the way round. The club is very well set up for the large number of visitors, who receive a warm welcome and are very well looked after.
History - The Limerick Chronicle of August 19th 1893 and the Kerry Sentinel in its Gossip Column (of all places,) of August 26th 1893 carried the same news item.
"The opening meeting of the Ballybunion Golf Club was held on the 18th inst., at the Castle Hotel, when it was decided to request Lord Listowel to allow himself to be nominated President, while Mr Carling of Newcastlewest and Mr Creagh of Listowel were elected Vice-Presidents. Mr Morden of Ennismore and Mr DArcy of Ballybunion were chosen Hon. Secretary and Hon.
Treasurer respectively. A vote of thanks was then passed to Mr Hewson,who very generously permits the use of the links to the club free. Twelve greens have been laid out upon the links - a number which might be easily increased to the standard eighteen, should the members so wish.
The greens all lie along the sandhills. The turf is of the springiest and the course offers every variety of golfing interest".
In early 1897 an article in the Irish Times, headed The Golf Links of Kerry, dismissed Ballybunion Course with some contempt as "a rabbit warren below the village, where a golfer requires limitless patience and an inexhaustible supply of golf balls." This provoked a tart rejoinder in the same paper in March 1897 from P McCarthy, General Manager, Listowel and Ballybunion Railway. The course, he claimed, was "quite first class and a sporting course, laid out by the professional who had laid out the links at Lahinch and Dollymount." The Irish golfers guide of 1897 names this course designer as James McKenna, who did this work "at the instance of the Lartigue Railway Company." It is interesting to note the connection with present day Ballybunion as he was the grandfather of current Ballybunion Golf Club Secretary - Manager, Jim McKenna.
The year 1971 triggered the start of a new era for the club when acclaimed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote an article ranking Ballybunion as one of the best ten courses in the world. Things were never quite the same again as visiting golfers came in their hordes to experience the magnificent Kerry links. Among the many visitors was Tom Watson, Ballybunion's favourite adopted son, while over the years the many who have made the pilgrimage include Byron Nelson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Peter Alliss, Ken Venturi and one Bill Clinton, to name but a few.
The Old Course at Ballybunion is a true seaside links, virtually treeless with a distinct lack of man made influences. There is certainly a wild look to the course, making it appear intimidating, yet the truth is that the course is eminently fair. The contours on the fairways and greens are what make Ballybunion a great golf course. The golfer is required to play accurate approach shots to the greens, usually to a small target with not a lot of space to miss left or right.
Considering the profound influence that Ballybunion has made on Tom Watson, it is perhaps fitting to end with his thoughts "It's a course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing...In short, Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build a golf course. I consider it a true test of golf."
The contours, on the fairways and on the greens, are what make it a great golf course. There are uphill and downhill and sidehill shots, uphill and downhill par-3s. You must play accurate iron shots into the greens, usually to a small target with not a lot of room to miss right or left. But there is room to roll a ball on to the greens in the true links manner. Playing Ballybunion is similar in many respects, to playing Cypress Point in America, and I like that style of golf. Its the best way to play. If you hit a straight shot but miss-hit it by a little bit, a little too long or short, you shouldnt be penalised as much as you are for missing left or right of the green. Yet if you roll the ball on to the green, and once you get to the green there are more contours you must contend with. It is all this that cause Ballybunion to offer some of the finest and most demanding shots into the green of any course Ive played in the world. Combine this with the winds that are prevalent here and you have a magnificent challenge.
It is a course that will test your patience. It is not a course that favours one particular style of play over another, but one that simply rewards good play and good shots. For example, the 8th is only 155 yards and plays almost straight downhill, yet you must hit your shots within a 10 to 12 yard area or face a bogey.., or double-bogey. In a wind, its one of the most demanding shots Ive ever faced. And thats the character of the course. The 11th, a 446-yard par 4 perched right on the seaside cliffs, is one of the toughest holes in the world. Thats also the character of the course. Yet its a course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing. I know I never will. In short, Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build golf course. I consider it a true test of golf.
€180.00 (Jnr €90.00)
€65.00 (Jnr €32.50)
€180.00 (Jnr €90.00)
Sorry, this club has not added their Membership prices.