Ranked 27th in the World
Ranked 7th Outside of the US
Ballybunion Golf Club Course Review
Ballybunion Golf Club – located on the west coast of Ireland about 1.5 hrs drive from Limerick it consistently ranks in the top 20 golf course in the world. Ballybunion was founded in 1893 but closed down a few years later after financial troubles, it reopened in 1906 with 9 holes to less than stellar reviews the Irish Times called it a rabbit warren below the village, where a golfer requires limitless patience and in inexhaustible supply of golf balls. Another 21 years went by before another 9 holes was added . The old course is set along the North Atlantic carved out of the sand dunes that stretch for a couple of kilometers southward from the town of Ballybunion down to the River Feale. It has a rugged feel to it, the dunes are utilized to the utmost, there isn’t a hole that is flat and you’ll never have a flat put. Tom Watson called Ballybunion his favorite of all course in the British Isles, he was so taken with it that when the some of the course became eroded away by the ocean he donated money out of his own pocket to help the club with the costs.
1st Hole 408 yds Par 4 – As you stand on the opening hole here the one thing you notice are gravestones down the right side inside the rock wall. The hole gently doglegs to the left and runs downhill. The best line on your tee shot is just right of the bunkers giving you the best angle into the green. Your second shot is to a green guarded by 4 pot bunkers two left and right. The green has some large undulation at the middle and the back and around the outer fringe the green runs off down to the rough.
2nd Hole 445 yds Par 4 – This hole is straight out on the tee shot, there are four fairway bunkers that you must avoid. The second shot is hit between two large sand dunes on either side of the fairway to a green sitting 15 ft above the fairway located, take an extra club here to make sure you hit the green or ball may come all the way back down the fairway if your short. The green has two pot bunkers just off the front edges of the green. The green is round in shape and 27 yds long from front to back.
3rd Hole 224 yds Par 3 – This hole is downhill to a green that is 40yds in length so having the right club in your hand is important, the green is guarded by 3 pots two on the left and one on the right. There is OB to the left on the road. Aim at the players on the next tee, this will give you a good chance of reaching the green, don’t worry about hitting them they are 40 yds back of the green. This hole has a small stone memorial to Payne Stewart upon his first visit here with Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara he made a hole in one on this hole.
4th Hole 533 yds Par 5 – A straight away hole, the unique feature of this hole is you hit directly over the 3rd holes putting green. There are four bunkers in the landing zone two on each side. Players must avoid going right as there is OB all the way to the green from the tee. Your second shot is straight away again, you only have to avoid one large bunker right 60 yds from the green and one pot bunker left. The has 3 pot bunkers guarding the front portion one left and two right. The green is 40yds long here and take enough club to get over the front of the green as there is a slope that will bring the ball back away from the green.
5th Hole 560 yds Par 5 – This hole is unique in that it has two bunkers in the middle of the fairway starting at 170 yds from the green. The hole has OB running all the way down the right hand side of the hole so you must avoid the right side here. The hole is fairly straight in shape, there are seven bunkers at various lengths from the tee, your second shot must avoid the bunkers in the middle of the fairway and your third is to a good sized green 30 yds in length guarded by two bunkers in front of the green. Sorry no pics for this hole 🙁
6th Hole 396 yds Par 4 – This medium length par 4 has OB running down the right hand side of the hole and the fairway doglegs left. This hole doesn’t have any bunkers so the only trouble you may find here is the the rough. The fairway here is very wide so your drive must be accurate. Your second shot has to be very accurate here, although the green is 42 yds long its width is very tiny as a result of the run offs on the sides of the green. If you hear commentators talking about table top greens in the majors our pin location was definitely one of those, there wasn’t more than a 15 x 20 ft putt-able surface around the pin.
7th Hole 434 yds Par 4 – This is the first taste of ocean holes at Ballybunion Golf Club, the wind usually blows directly off the ocean perpendicular to the hole. The line off the tee here to the left of the hump in the fairway giving you a clear view of the green. If you right you might have a blind second shot into this green. The green on your second shot is long and not very wide, the green is 37 yds long and opens up towards the back of the green. The green runs off on all sides mostly at the front, if the pin is at the front of the green its better to be long and avoid all the trouble up front.
8th Hole 163 yds Par 3 – This short downhill par often plays with the wind, there are four pot bunker moving from right to left in front of the green towards the middle left. If you miss the green here on the right you will most likely end up in the run off area several feet below the hole. The green is only 31 yards long and maybe 20 yds wide so your tee ball has to be accurate. We played the hole is a good wind with us, the play was to aim at the left bunker 15 yds short of the green and let the ball bounce right towards the pin, it worked and I ended up with a 15ft birdie putt.
9th Hole – 462 yds Par 4 – This hole is downhill on the tee shot and levels off for you second shot. The only defense on this hole is the mounding on the fairways and a very challenging green. Aim your tee ball down the right side of the fairway for the best angle for the second shot into the green. The key to have a putt on your third shot is to take enough club to get over the 15 yd false front, yes that number is correct add a 6ft slope up to the main level and you’ll have a challenging put if your short of the green. The green is 47 yds long so make sure your club selection is good.
10th Hole 364 yds Par 4 – This short par 4 will test your ability to hit the fairway, your drive must hug the left side of the fairway the landing area slopes hard to the right. Your drive need not travel more than 230 yds for a level lie setting up a short iron second shot to a fairly flat green. There is one pot bunker on the right side of the green but the green is large enough for the bunker not to be a concern.
11th Hole 473 yds Par 4 – Perhaps the best hole and toughest hole at Ballybunion, the views of the North Sea and the beach below just add to the flavor of this hole. There is ample room left to hit your drive here and going right would be a big mistake. Your second shot here is one of what links golf is all about, you are surrounded by large dunes on either side of you , the fairway is uneven and your shot into the green is protected by two large dunes than squeeze the fairway down to 10 yds wide short of green. The green is fairly large but be aware missing the green can put you in a lot of trouble. Did I mention the wind….
12th Hole 214 yds Par 3 – This par 3 is sharply up hill and it more like hitting to an island green, add the fact that you’ll need a long iron or hybrid and this becomes the toughest par 3 at Ballybunion, miss right or short and you would face a very challenging recovery shot where you might not be able to see the green. There are three pot bunkers left of the green two grass and one sand. The green is 38yds long but only 20 yds wide.
13th Hole 488 yds Par 5 – Your tee shot here is hit from an elevated tee down into the fairway, the fairway is angled for a right to left tee shot, the aiming point here is right at the path in the distance. Its 260 yds to the edge of the upper fairway and 230 yds to the green. The lay up shot here is straightforward, there is ample room in the fairway and if you happen to miss right you’ll most likely end up in the adjacent fairway or rough between the fairways. The third shot requires some a deft touch as the green is angled from right to left and there are 3 pot bunkers guarding the front portion of the green. The green is narrow and 37 yds long from front to back. If you can avoid the bunkers you have a good chance at making par or birdie here.
14th Hole 133 yds Par 3 – A seemingly easy par 3 at 133yds but beware if you miss the green trouble awaits everywhere. Your tee shot is up hill about 15ft to a green that is situated between two large sand dunes. The green has run offs on either side that you can’t see from the tee and one pot bunker left that can catch a shot landing short of the green. The green is 31 yds long and narrow so accuracy is paramount. Good Luck.
15th Hole 216 yds Par 3 – This is the toughest par 3 at Ballybunion Golf Club – If the wind is blowing in from the ocean this hole plays at least a club longer. Depending on which tee you play off of some or most of the green may be blind from the large sand dune on the left side of the path leading to the hole. The green is surrounded by sand dunes on all side and has 4 pot bunkers around the green. The green is 31 yards long, the front level of the green is not as wide as the back level of the green. Just hitting the green here is an accomplishment.
16th Hole 509 yds Par 5 – The last par 5 at Ballybunion Golf Club is almost a 90 degree dogleg left hole carved out of the dunes along the ocean. Your tee shot here is hit parallel to the ocean and over a series of dunes to the fairway. From the back tees the last dune before the fairway is a 230yds carry if you choose to use the pathway line the carry is 260 yds. There is one bunker right of the pathway at 295 yds from the tee that can be in play for the longest of hitters. Your second shot is hit between two 30-50 ft dunes that squeeze the fairway to just 15 yds is some places and if you think you can bounce your ball of the dunes and back into the fairway think again. There is one bunker 70 yds from the green on the left to catch wayward shots and at the green there are two pots on the right side. The green is 31 yds long and has a decent size to it.
17th Hole 398 yds Par 4 – This par 4 doglegs left towards the ocean and the fairway runs parallel to the beach. The wind plays a big factor here in aiming your tee shot. The farther right you go the better angle you’ll have on your second shot if your too far left you might be blocked out by the giant sand dune at the corner of the dogleg. Aim your second shot at the right side of the green here to be safe as the wind will blow it left. The green has one bunker on the left side and the front portion is elevated and any shot missing the green will have a tricky chip back up onto the green.
18th Hole 382 yds Par 4 – The last hole at Ballybunion is a nice end to your round, your tee shot often has the wind with you. The best line into the green here is to take your drive right of the bunker on the left setting up the clearest line into the green. Both your tee shot and second shot are uphill so selecting your club on the second shot it paramount. Your shot into the green is surrounded by dunes on all sides and there are 3 pot bunkers to catch any stray shot. The green is narrow and is 36 yds long.