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Sean_A

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Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« on: June 20, 2017, 08:21:02 AM »


It wasn't all that long ago this quaint method of arriving at The Island was discontinued. 



Both photos taken from Great Courses of Ireland by J Redmond...a highly recommended book.

I wouldn’t think it is often one can place hand on heart and claim gratitude for the “Syndicate”.  Yet The Island’s Syndicate of 10 bachelors who founded The Island GC in 1890 must surely be a firm exception.  Rather unusual for 19th century Ireland, the founding members were not affiliated with the military, but many were members of Royal Dublin.  Alas, the club did not permit golf on the Lord’s Day; consequently the Syndicate explored a small peninsula in Broadmeadow Estuary and found the sand hills perfect for golf. How the course became known as Island GC is likely due to the isolation of the property.  There wasn’t a road from Malahide so members and guests used to cross the water in a row boat.  The house used to be located near the current 14th tee where nearby dock moorings can still be seen.  Rather cleverly, some of the ferrymen doubled as green keepers!  The service terminated in 1973 when the course was re-designed by F Hawtree and E Hackett; though the process took about 20 years. 

Little is known concerning the original design or the changes that seemingly always occur in the early history of golf courses.  Darwin knew of the course and wrote in his Golf Courses of The British Isles that The Island “...may legitimately be called sporting in the best sense of the word.”  The Syndicate turned the course over to the annual ticket holders shortly after WWII, by which time the entire project was on its last legs.  It was a brave decision of the members to breathe life back into the club in the early 1970s and all golfers owe a debt of gratitude for their perseverance.  I believe seven new holes were built with the idea of eliminating blindness and supporting the new clubhouse location which was reached by road.  In the early to mid-2000s additional work was carried out by M Hawtree and J Howes.  The three-shot 10th was the major focus of the work, though additional greens were altered.  I don’t know the detail, but it seems to me the infamous 14th had its green altered as it looks more scalloped than previously.  Given the spread of time for the modernization of The Island, the course architecturally hangs together remarkably well. 

Not surprisingly, because of the new house, the 1st is one of the "new" holes.  This hole offers a good representation of what is to come in terms of terrain and type of hole for The Island opens with eight straight two-shotters. 


Two and three well and truly set the golfer on The Island journey.  Playing around a dune, the second is a beauty.




Three plays parallel to the beach and comes back on the 2nd.  Once again, an excellent greensite taking great advantage of the terrain.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 08:06:53 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Ira Fishman

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-3
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2017, 10:57:30 AM »
Sean, so very glad you are giving us a tour of The Island Club. We only played it once, both my wife and I found it a great course and wonderful setting. Look forward to the rest of the tour.


Ira

Brad Tufts

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-3
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2017, 12:27:46 PM »
As my member playing-partner pointed out to me last fall, the first four holes run in four different compass directions relative to each other...really neat stuff.  I don't buy the need for the new par three (it wasn't in play the day I played) to break up the opening lineup of par fours, but it gives them flexibility I suppose.
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Sean_A

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-3
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 07:10:22 PM »
The Island Tour Cont.

The 4th is a bruiser hole turning left then to a plateau green.  I don't have any memory of this hole so I reckon at least the green must be new. 






Another one of the best holes on the course...an up n' oer short par 4,the fifth covers rambunctious terrain. 




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 08:07:27 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 07:53:23 PM »
Very fond memories of a very blustery day
difficult shedding greens in many places
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Mike Sweeney

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 08:18:34 PM »
That's nice :)




My non-golfer brother-in-law was lobbying for me to come over to Ireland, asap. What am I waiting for !!

Sean - Thanks as always for your tours.
"We need to allow people to make decisions for themselves and their local communities and families. Trying to tie everything into one package simply does not work." 5/11/21

Greg Gilson

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 01:55:45 AM »
Sean, thanks for this tour. Looking forward to returning to NI/Ireland in August and , especially to, The Island GC. This tour is whetting my appetite. Thanks again.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-3
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 03:43:29 AM »
As my member playing-partner pointed out to me last fall, the first four holes run in four different compass directions relative to each other...really neat stuff.  I don't buy the need for the new par three (it wasn't in play the day I played) to break up the opening lineup of par fours, but it gives them flexibility I suppose.


Brad where is the new par 3? 


I suppose it all depends on how good it is.  I did notice 8 straight par 4's but such was the interest it wasn't a problem.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-3
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 05:17:31 AM »
As my member playing-partner pointed out to me last fall, the first four holes run in four different compass directions relative to each other...really neat stuff.  I don't buy the need for the new par three (it wasn't in play the day I played) to break up the opening lineup of par fours, but it gives them flexibility I suppose.


Brad where is the new par 3? 


I suppose it all depends on how good it is.  I did notice 8 straight par 4's but such was the interest it wasn't a problem.


It runs from left of the 3rd green in an almost parallel direction towards a green site close to the coast. The first 150 yards of the next hole was then changed to allow this three in to the routing. Idea was to combine the current 8th and 9th and move the entrance road although I believe that idea has shifted so I'm not sure what the plans are now.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2017, 07:55:12 AM »
Enjoying the tour so far. Somewhere I very much wish to play so thanks for the insights.
Atb

Ruediger Meyer

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2017, 01:29:17 PM »
Very fond memories of playing this course in a blistering wind. If the course wouldn't have been so great, it was the kind of weather to go home after 9.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-5
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2017, 06:01:52 PM »
Ally

I rather like the idea of a combined 8 & 9 because neither hole is terribly satisfactory. 

THE ISLAND TOUR CONT

The 6th is in the middle of a run of back and forth holes; a shortish par 4 which moves a bit left between bunkers.  As is the case with many greens, it is raised.


The demanding 7th not only tests with length, but also great terrain. 


The hogsback effect leaves little room for error.


Turning back yet again, we now head for the house.  This is an odd hole whose fairway ends about 200 yards out. The hole plays as awkward as it looks.




Finishing the front nine loop, the short 9th didn't do much for me.  While a much better hole than previously, the 10th strikes me as a very contrived and out of character hole.  The 11th too is a bit lackluster except for the green. One will likely notice that a great many greens are not overly receptive and will shed slightly off line approaches. 


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 08:08:11 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-11
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2017, 06:50:02 PM »
THE ISLAND TOUR CONT

We now head back into a rich vein of holes starting with 12.   A very difficult and long two-shotter turning left.  Like many Island greens, this one is raised on a plateau.  Any approach short will likely roll back a good 30 yards, leaving a coarse pitch.




Looking back to the tee.


We are now faced with two epic holes.  The 13th, a tragically long and difficult par 3 on the estuary and 14, a snake thin par 4 also on the estuary. The two holes make a perfect pairing not unlike the now extinct 5 & 6 at Portrush's Valley Links. In fact, The Island couplet comes in at 564 total yards while the Valley's was 573. Most golfers would be very pleased to whack a snowman on the card for the two holes.  On the day, driver wasn't enough for the 13th....at least 30 yards short of the hole. 


On the day, the 14th fairway felt too narrow for a 7 wood.




I am sure the green was once more rudimentary than now.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 08:11:59 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Greg Taylor

Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-14
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2017, 07:04:01 PM »
Tough course on a windy day.


And, if anyone buys a "yardage" chart, be careful as the unit of measure is metres - I didn't realise and it's very much the exception. Probably explains why I found it so tough!

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-14
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2017, 03:07:07 AM »
I'm not a big fan of 12, much preferring the more classic feel of a simpler hole such as 11.


14 greensite was indeed reworked, Sean.


Thomas Dai

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-14
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2017, 05:20:55 AM »
The more I see of The Island, the more I like.
Blue, red and yellow flags for different pin positions. Different colours are becoming more the norm. Whilst red and yellow are okay, blue's not that easy to see.
atb

Sean_A

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC 1-14
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2017, 03:04:13 AM »
Ally

I am surprised by your distaste for 12.  Its a fine hole with great land shy of the green.  I like the do or don't die aspect of coming up short.  To me its a far more compelling hole than 11, though I do like that green.

ATB

There is a ton to like at The Island.  It really is one of the best courses in Ireland...terribly under-rated imo. 

THE ISLAND TOUR CONT

Much loved, the three-shot 15th is a fine long hole.  The fairway bunkers have been worked on to look a bit more like Co Down rather than the rather tired saucer revetted bunkers we often see on links. 


The hole is very reachable when downwind and there isn't much trouble for the wayward shot.


A wonderful par 3 follows.  It may not look it, but I am sure this green was radically altered or is on a new site.   The shot remains very difficult, but doable.  Previously, the tee shot was playing to camel's back green.  The look of the hole is somewhat spoiled by completely unnecessary forward bunkering.


We all have our spots where we really want to come across one of the better holes on the course.  For me that spot is the 17th because I generally prefer 18 to be comfortable hole to cruise into the house.  The Island's penultimate hole does the job admirably.  Wedged between a large dune on the left and bunkering right, it is the contours which sing the loudest.






The final hole is not my kind of finisher, but it is good in a rather difficult sort of way as a ball-buster 460ish yard two-shotter which does hark back to a few previous holes.  Well, that is The Island, a very demanding test of golf, but not without its mischievous and eccentric moments.  While we all have our preferences, I don't think any of the holes are duds.  With several holes such as 2, 3, 5, 7, 14, 16 & 17 rolling over awesome terrain there is no doubting The Island's greatness.  The much maligned Hawtree work is far less intrusive than I was led to believe, in fact I rather like most of it!  Go see The Island for yourself, it is probably the most under-rated of the great Irish links.  1* 2017

Other Courses on the Short Dublin North Tour

Corballis Links
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64673.0.html

Laytown & Bettystown
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64681.0.html

Baltray
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64710.0.html

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 08:09:28 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Greg Gilson

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2017, 03:35:32 AM »
Sean, thanks again for taking the time to put this together for us.

Ira Fishman

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2017, 08:24:11 AM »
Sean, thanks again for the terrific tour.  Compared to the Irish courses that are on Americans' bucket lists (mine included), I have only Lahinch above The Island Club and that is no knock on Ballybunion or Waterville which both are great.  We played The Island because Portmarnock was booked so cannot speak to it relative to The Island Club, but for those who are planning a trip, suggest forgetting the long haul to Old Head and going to The Island Club instead.


Ira


PS I agree on your assessment of the holes except as Ally notes, I found the 11th to be quite interesting. 

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2017, 02:40:54 PM »
Sean,


I find the 12th tastes much more modern in flavour, with a long approach to a very exacting and tight, raised green that is pushed right in to the pocket of a created dune. On top of that, the ground before is actually low lying and lacking in interest. Just not a fan.


On the other hand, the 11th green is beautifully sited with the framing, rear dune a good 50 yards behind. The hole has the most sublime contours from the dogleg in, with a cheeky reverse cambered turn and a speed slot for taking the inside. I like it.


Other than that, I agree with the holes you singled out with the exception of 14 which I would replace with the wonderful 15th.


16th was a new Hawtree green in a different location to the old upturned saucer.


Excellent course. I'd have it just sneaking in to my top-10 Ireland. But only by the skin of its teeth.

Ira Fishman

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2017, 06:22:58 PM »
Ally,


A wonderful explication of the merits of the 11th hole--I certainly do not have the knowledge or vocabulary to have captured it (nor did I find the speed slot).  As to the 14th, it has an illogically narrow fairway that would not warrant replication, but I found it an enjoyable challenge in a way similar to the Dell hole at Lahinch which is one of my all time favorite holes.  The 14th at The Island does not rise to that level especially given that it is of more recent vintage, but I agree with Sean that it is one of the special holes at The Island. And it seems to fit in so well and distinctively with the stretch of 13 through 16--bookend wonderful Par 3s and, as you note, a terrific Par 5.


Ira

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2017, 06:39:20 PM »
I do like the 14th, Ira, if only because it's such an individual hole. I just wouldn't nominate it as one of my favourites.


Perhaps I am being a little hard on the 12th too.


17th is an unsung hero. Cracking hole. Pretty tight though, like quite a few holes there.


Sean - how was the first 10-15 yards of rough being maintained?

Mickey Boland

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Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2017, 11:52:20 PM »
Sean.  Thanks so much for your great photo tour!  I will be playing there, for the first time, in 5 weeks.  You have really whetted my appetite. 

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2017, 05:22:06 AM »
I do like the 14th, Ira, if only because it's such an individual hole. I just wouldn't nominate it as one of my favourites.


Perhaps I am being a little hard on the 12th too.


17th is an unsung hero. Cracking hole. Pretty tight though, like quite a few holes there.


Sean - how was the first 10-15 yards of rough being maintained?

Ally

By nature, some of the course is too tight and the rough on these holes is harsh.  I spose that is why on the flatter holes I would rather see some expansiveness and it was a good chance at #11 to do this. 

The Island is great, but very difficult.  I obviously preferred the holes playing over bumpy terrain to the ones playing between dunes.  That said, I think the combo of the two styles in such abundance is quite unusual.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: THE ISLAND GC
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2017, 02:49:00 PM »
Although I can't presently recall where I heard it, I believe at The Island it's playing off mats in the winter period. Anyone know if this is correct?

The County Louth/Baltray website says mats are used in winter. Anyone happen to know if it's winter mats at Royal Dublin, Portmarnock, The European etc?

Atb

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