Sean used nice language to say the courseis notion special ifeel the same way and if I hadnot had a great match to take my mind off the holes is that areas uninspired as an American course it' is. The ashen needs to be redone in a bad way. The land is good enough for a great course
I think you missed some of my gist. There is no question Cashen has a lot of excellent shots and is inspired architecture. I happen to think its too severe in that what must be common weather is not properly taken into account. It could well be that the club requested this sort of design and/or there wasn't enough money to make the course truly playable.
Wow! Comfortably the most impressive course on this trip. Even so, I was disappointed to see narrowed fairways. The rough was a bit more forgiving than at Ballybunion and this made a huge difference. While roughly half of Lahinch is by the hand of Dr Mac, what sets Lahinch apart from a design perspective is the funky stretch of holes from #3 through #7; holes which pre-date Dr Mac except for the 3rd and the Dr Mac version is NLE. Ballybunion can't offer anything to this degree and to top it off, these holes, while seemingly crazy, are very playable and thus immensely enjoyable. While I am not sure about altering #13 (it strikes me as easier) and relegating the Mackenzie 11th to winter status, I do think that on the whole the Hawtree work improved the course. The greens are more interesting and the 12th is an improvement as a par 5, especially with wind off the left. One detail which I really appreciated are the grass paths. I don't recall seeing these before on a links and I wonder why. The grass paths look far better than the stone or sea shell variety and they are easier on the soft spikes.
The course starts off gently with a moderate length par 4 edging uphill.
There are no prizes for being short.
The second scrambles downhill back toward the house. This hole was definitely altered as it used to be a much more reachable par 5. There is an odd kink in the middle of the hole making it wise to stay left off the tee.
The second is quite exacting if one is going for the green.
Not knowing exactly what changes were made, I went to the third looking for the green. Instead, I was greeted by the tee shot of the old 4th which now plays as #3. I spose the new, and very good 8th acts as the front nine one-shotter replacement. The third now plays steeply uphill and flat bellies can run out of room on the plateau.
Love or loath the following two holes, Klondyke (designed by C Gibson) & Dell (designed by Old Tom) one cannot deny these are the very soul of Lahinch. I am amazed Dr Mac allowed these holes to stand, but I suspect the club big wigs stamped their authority on the project. Being such a unique endeavour (Lahinch probably being his best project in GB&I), I suspect Dr Mac kept his griping to a low murmur. In any case, it would be great to know the story of Klondyke and Dell. Kondyke features what has to be in the running for the narrowest tee shot on the planet, but the sparse rough up the right is perfect. One can drive it 15 yards off-line and be in the middle of the fairway or stuck up the bank. This level of uncertainty is what rough should nearly always be about. I want doom in a bunker and hope in the rough.
Trying to clear Klondyke from the right rough is no joke.
The hole does offer respite once over Klondyke, but its best to approach from the right. Notice the turfed wall to the rear of the green. I spose this prevents the bounce back thus making the club selection for the go for it second more exacting.
From the 6th tee there is no hint of glory for the drive is a bit mundane following a fairway which looks like a road plowing through a hill. What can't be seen is magnificent hole placed dead centre where the short grass dead ends at around 250 yards from our preferred green tees.
I would prefer if the pit was solid sand, but the idea is great. After one sets this distraction aside, the downhill approach is none too easy.
A look at Lahinch from #7 tee.
The funky run comes to end on #7. Much like #3, this hole climbs a hill in the saddlle of dunes and turns left. While 50 yards shorter than than the third, I think this hole is superior. The approach to a very long green is very difficult to decipher. Additionally, there is a drop-off midway up the left side of the putting surface.
Hit the drive too far and one gets this view for an approach.
The Hawtree 8th is a fine hole nestled in the sadlle of dunes even if it does look a bit out of place.
The side finishes with a cracking short two-shotter; its green hugging a right side dune. From the highest point on the course, a drive up the right leaves a nasty approach down the dune and over a bunker.
The green is quite long and narrow.
The 10th turns back on #9 and curves gently to the left - hiding a significant portion of the fairway. The approach is straight forward, but long and made longer still by the incline leading to the green.
Hawtree built the 11th as well. Its certainly a pretty hole, but I prefer the Dr Mac version set on lower ground to the right of the new tee. Below is the Hawtree hole.
Taking aim at what remains of O'Brien Castle, the 12th runs along the Inagh River estuary. Hawtree converted this long par 4 into a reachable par 5. When the wind is off the estuary playing the hole as a true three-shotter is probably wise.
#13 is yet another hole altered by Hawtree. My memory isn't great, but I recall this being a more difficult and dangerous hole to attack. I played the hole with exactly opposite wind in two days. It wasn't reachable on the first go, but on the second it was comfortably reachable. In any case, the whimsy presented by the funky stretch and this hole seals the deal on why I prefer Lahinch to Ballybunion.
14 is a super, but brutal hole following what seems to be a hardened theme of playing between dunes. Much of the landing zone is hidden so the hole looks tougher than it is. Mind you, playing from the left side of the fairway is not an easy way to hit the green as there is a covering bunker blocking that path.
Turning back on #14, the 15th is a tough hole as well. If the wind is at all up, one of these holes will feel more like a par 5 even though they cover only 430 yards apiece. The hole feels like it should be open, and it is, but the lay of the land hides the landing zone.
The approach too is tough, a bit uphill to a green which deceptively continues the incline. This photo demonstrates the importance of position to better control ball flight. Into a head wind and for safety, many golfers will be forced to use a higher loft club than they would like.
If I had to pick weakness of Lahinch, it woud be the one-shotters. The 16th strikes me as much like most of the par 3s at Lahinch, very competent, and with the exception of #5 (which can rightfully be seen as an awful hole!), not stirring. In these photos, the reader gets an idea of Lahinch's style of greens.
The strength of Lahinch is unquestionably its par 4s. The variety of lengths, use of terrain and wind and how they counterpunch the fives and threes and even other fours is outstanding. There isn't a hole in the group that can in the least be considered indifferent. The penultimate hole fits the above description perfectly. There is more room left off the tee than it appears, but two blind bunkers on the corner of the green make this safe play troublesome. An elephant's graveyard runs down the middle of the fairway pushing drives left or right. As on a few earlier occasions, there is slight step-up to the green which mandates an extra push for the approach.
Sadly, the round must come to an end. We play across the 4th fairway with the guidance of the marshal on Klondyke. The obvious trouble is a pair of bunkers down the right, but being left is infinitely worse. Anyway, after the drive, this par 5 fizzles a bit, but does offer a good chance for a birdie.
What a golf course! I came here with great memories and left with many more. Lahinch is most famous for Klondyke and Dell, and while invigorating to play, there are several holes which are far better. However, the course would definitely not be Lahinch without these two and the three holes which bookend them. If there was ever a course which beckoned golfers to book a plane ticket, Lahinch is it. If they put the Dr Mac's 11th hole back in play I would probably give Lahinch 3 stars, until then, 2* SCORECARD
2. 523 !
4. 472 ?
5. 148 !!
6. 412 ?!
7. 366 !
9. 391 !
13. 267 !
14. 451 !
17. 408 !