Golf Course Architecture - Issue 66, October 2021

61 front left of the putting surface, and the deep depression in which the green is sited becomes obvious. The course returns to Sheephaven Bay with a bang on the fourteenth. After a downhill tee shot, the hole turns to the right, and the tucked green means that the f lag is invisible until the golfer is quite close. A long drive indeed will be needed to get a sight of the pin with the second. The steeply uphill but extremely short par- three fifteenth might not appeal to Bandon Dunes developer Mike Keiser (who is famously averse to uphill one shot holes), but few others will fail to appreciate its drama. The home hole might seem, at first, a rather low-key finish. Only 361 yards from the back tee and over ground that is mostly relatively level (by St Patrick’s standards) it lacks immediate drama. But miss the approach to front right (the most common miss in golf) and the drama will appear: a hollow, twenty or thirty feet deep, and with short grass to the greenside, so simply coming up a foot short will see the ball down in the abyss. A long thin bunker sits at the back of this hollow: the elevation change from front to back of it must be ten feet easily. St Patrick’s is a truly magnificent golf course, one that will surely be acclaimed as among the finest on the planet. As might be guessed when land that previously houses two courses is used for one, it is enormous, and an extremely long, tough walk: anyone wanting a 36-hole day there will need to be in first-rate shape. And I am slightly worried that classic, low-to-the-ground links golf will be discouraged by the sheer scale of the contour: why try to work out how the ball will react running over an enormous mound when one can simply f ly it over? The course is still very young, and head greenkeeper George Helly has a big job on trying to battle the poa annua for which the Irish climate is so perfect and to keep the surfaces fescue dominant. But these quibbles notwithstanding, it is a course any golfer interested in how good the game can be should see. GCA “ The first visit to the shore, at the fourth hole, is a grand ‘reveal’ which reminded me of the walk from the fourth green to the fifth tee at Barnbougle” Photos: Clyde Johnson