News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY GC New
« on: June 28, 2017, 06:10:23 AM »
Co Louth or as the club is widely known, Baltray, is synonymous with the East of Ireland Open Championship. The club and the Golfing Union of Ireland established this event in 1941 and it has been held at Baltray every year since.  The first winner was JB Carr; he would go on to win the event 11 more times!  That is not all, Carr won an additional 25 Irish Championships, 3 Amateur Championship crowns, played in 11 Walker Cups and captained the side twice in 1965 & 1967.  Carr played in the 1967 Masters with defending champion Jack Nicklaus; he made the cut but Jack did not.  The next year he made the cut after being paired with Arnold Palmer; Arnold failed to qualify for the weekend. Thankfully, Sam Snead made the cut in 1969!  In 1991 Dr Carr was elected Captain of the R&A, the first Irishman to be so honoured.  Fittingly, Joe Carr was posthumously inducted into the Golf World Hall of Fame in 2007.

The Great Joe Carr


One cannot visit Co Louth GC without being confronted by the exploits of the prodigious Philomena Garvey, a long-time member of Baltray.  Winning 15 Irish Close Championships between 1946 and 1970 (she wasn’t eligible to compete between 1964 and 1967 due to her status as Ireland’s first female professional) secured Philomena’s legacy as the greatest female Irish player to date. Remarkably, she never lost in The Close finals, but only secured one victory after having reached the final of five Ladies Amateur Championships.   

Garvey was selected seven times to represent GB&I in the Curtis Cup.  Controversy came in 1958 when Philomena was selected for the matches, but refused to wear the Union Jack badge.  After attempts at a compromise whereby an old blazer would be worn had failed, Miss Garvey did not play. Later Curtis Cup logos would include the tricolour.  Philomena retired from international golf after her final Close victory in 1970 at Royal Portrush.


Despite some serious alterations to the 18th, renumbering the holes due to a change of clubhouse location (the new and current house was once a hotel) and small changes here and there, Baltray is one of Tom Simpson’s finest examples of work remaining in GB&I.  In 1938, working with Molly Gourlay (who had a very interesting and well respected life in golf), the pair seemed to totally transform the course by using existing corridors and moving most of the greens and tees.  The course runs over three different types of land; dunes, low lying dunes and flat land in fairly equal measure. One of the clever aspects of the design is the shaping.  Simpson seemed more willing to shape the greens in a more dramatic fashion on the dunes holes.  The fall-offs around greens are so perfectly accomplished they must be by the hand of man!  Of course, it is the dune holes which are most memorable and #s 3, 5, 7 & 14 are the standouts.  However, some of the holes over quieter land also register firmly in the memory and include #s 4, 6, 15 & 16.  While flat holes can greatly enhance a design, a half dozen of less inspirational holes are perhaps a few too many, though Baltray’s take some playing.   
 
Simpson principles of design...well some anyway.


The first is one of the flatter holes and doesn't trigger feelings of admiration, though tough it is.  In this photo taken near the second tee, the reader gets an early glimpse of the subtle run-offs featured on many of the greens.


The par 5 second covers the same sort of ground, but playing downwind this hole can be reached in two.  Uncharateristically of major links, there is relatively quite a bit of space to cheat on the inside lane. In general, the rough is kept in check which makes for a pleasant day's golf. 


One of the great advantages of raised greens is not quite knowing where the hole is.  In this case, located at the rear of the green, it is easy to come up too short and be left with a putt over the tier.


Baltray begins in earnest on the 3rd. This three-shotter is tougher to reach in two than the previous hole, but if one is going to give it a go it is imperative to stay right off the tee. The approach is blind and there is a sharp drop-off on the left side of the green which, as I have witnessed, can be a depository for loose putts! 




The massive fall-off area as seen from near the 4th tee.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 05:39:59 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-3
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2017, 09:51:30 AM »
Now we're getting somewhere....


How I love Baltray.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-3
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 05:10:38 AM »
BALTRAY TOUR CONT

Originally the opening hole, the 4th plays over exquisitely ornery ground. 


Near the green is a gulley which will funnel weak approaches to the left. It looks to me, and this is not unusual, that the green is not cut properly to near the extremity of the pad.  That added space would spice up the hole.


Looking back to the tee.


Now for the famous 5th.  This is one of those greens where the shaping is very fine. Much of the focus is on the green surface, but the wide run-up with a crafty lower bunker is wonderful stuff.  I can imagine there are days when decent golfers hit flat shots up the slope.


The green from near the 6th tee.


The purple patch continues with the very interesting par 5 sixth. The drive nor the second don't look as if they are up to much, but that is patently not the case once the green is in full view.


It is clear that approaching blindly from the left is wishful thinking.


The 5th garners the huzzahs, but I think the 7th is a more exacting hole.  On the day we played there were many flags tucked in nasty spots. 


There is very little forgiveness if one chooses to go hole hunting to the right side of the green. Photo taken from 8th tee.


The next hole is very disorienting.  One can see a hole well up and turning left and another green to the left. Is this perhaps an evil case of suppressio veri?  The 8th green can't be seen as it is tucked slightly right out of picture.  It is interesting that as was the case for the 6th, a bunker is placed on a poor line. I wonder if these are Simpson originals?  In any case, drive well left of the bunker and all is revealed. 


Many will get the sense the front nine sort of double loops back somewhere in the region of the house, but I found it surprising the house was so close to the 10th tee.  The walk to the 10th isn't too long should one want to play the back nine or reverse the nines.  However and unfortunately, the run of 9-11 disturbs the magic spell of 3 through 8.  None of these are bad holes; they are the sort of holes one wouldn't mind if they were trickled throughout the design.  When bunched together, these holes are clearly inferior.  That said, each hole has a little something such as the blind hump n' hollow to the right of 9th green, the rather dubious OOB dead straight on the 10th and the surprisingly uphill green for the 11th.

Back to stirring golf, the bunkering on the 12th seems to harken back to the opening two holes, being rather obvious in their placement. However, all is not what it seems.  There is far more room to the left than it appears...if you don't mind a blind approach.  If you want to see the green, the bunkers must be taken on.  I much admire this use of blindness.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 06:37:30 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-12
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2017, 06:24:32 AM »
You are right in calling out 3 to 8 as a sublime stretch. I never minded nine as a long, difficult 4. Ten I think is a good hole but 11 lacks a little something. None of thise three measure up to that early stretch or the run between 12 and 16 which for me are two of the very best sequences of holes in Ireland.


I too think the seventh measures up to the fifth. I see you call out the excellent shaping on the 5th, much of which is new from when the green pad was extended recently.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-12
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2017, 06:30:18 AM »
Ally

Am I right in thinking the 12th has different bunkering?  I seem to recall a  bunker left and only two bunkers right?  The first of the three does look a bit awkward with no natural pocket.  I noticed others like this on the course which had me wondering if Simpson had anything to do with them. I suspect the bunkering scheme is a bit different to 1938, but I have never seen an old map.

Yep, I think it was a job well done for the 5th.  The larger green also helps differentiate this hole from the 7th.

I think the 10th needs a serious rethink as the dogleg is quite short and the views toward the house over the OOB are a downer. It seems like this should be a spot for a par 3 to me and that the current hole is rather forced.  Its not a bad place for a short hole to break up 9-11 and a stretch of seven sraight 4s.  Maybe if they really got crazy a large berm could be built to block out the house area.

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 04:21:22 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-12
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2017, 06:35:20 AM »
Not sure on the bunkering, Sean. I know it's been changed on the 2nd and 18th but was unaware of other changes (and can't recall the 12th from my last visit)


I have an aerial from 1959 at home so may check when I get round to it.


Ally

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-12 New
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2017, 04:54:32 AM »
BALTRAY TOUR CONT

The 13th runs over humpty bumpty ground to a green not far from the shore.  We now begin the run home in earnest with #14, arguably Baltray's best hole.  Played from a high tee, I am not sure there is a best part of the fairway to hit, but it is imperative to be on the short stuff.  There are no prizes for approaching this fortress green from the rough.  I say fortress, but nary a single bunker is in play.  In fact, this is one of three holes which has no bunkering, the other two being 3 and 4. 


I like the gulley at the base of the right dune.  I can imagine some awkward lies, although the dubious cut-line reduces the visual impact of this area. 


The nasty green as seen from pin-high well left.


The short 15th with its plateau green reminds us a bit of #s 5 & 7, but this hole lacks their elegance.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 03:34:20 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2017, 06:38:38 AM »
The more I see of Baltray the more I like.
Thanks Sean
On-site dormy accommodation available I believe.
atb

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2017, 12:33:20 PM »
10 used to play as the 18th Sean. 'Twas a par-5

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2017, 01:15:11 PM »
Ally

Thanks.  I thought 10 felt to be an odd hole. 

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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15 New
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2017, 05:07:13 AM »
BALTRAY TOUR CONT

The bunkering on 16 is very deceptive.  It looks a doddle to carry the inside bunker, but it must be about 250 yards out.  For players of my skill level, a lay-up shy of the bunker is possible, but leaves an awkward approach.  If the pinching bunkers are taken on succesfully the approach is much easier.


Much of the green is tucked beyond a dune, but there is ample space to play to the left side of the green.




Climbing to another high tee, the 17th is not visually up to much, but the hole reveals itself at the green.  The restructured 18th looks exactly that.  The bunker scheme is quite unusual being loaded down the left for the tee shot then scattered pits for the second.  Yet, this par 5 doesn't strike me as being at one with the other 17 holes.  Though slightly off-putting, this isn't necessarily a negative.  Time will judge it's merits. More importantly, for me at least, the 18th is stranded from the house.


Despite a less than stirring finish to the day,  Baltray does offer the golfer many interesting and varied holes.  Chief among these are 3, 5, 6, 7, 12 & 14. As good as these holes are, I am not convinced their weight is enough to completely balance the scales with the many rather straight-forward holes which can be found on any number of less heralded links.  That said, it is easy to overlook some of the clever work on these holes.  Where Baltray shines brightly is in its playability.  For the most part, the rough is sensible and there is space to play the game.  Many a club could learn a thing or three with this approach.  I must also mention the extremely friendly membership and warm clubhouse.  We stayed in the dormie rooms and were much better off for it.  The bottom line for me is Baltray is better than my memory suggested and it will duly move up the charts.

Other Courses On The Dublin North Tour:

The Island
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64667.0.html

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

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

TRIP SUMMARY

All four courses were of high quality and interest and I would recommend playing any of them at least once.  Stay in Baltray's rooms, they are spartan, but the friendly atmosphere abounds.  I will also say the bar/food prices were very reasonable compared to every other club/restaurant/bar.

We stayed in Howth, a lovely little port town with enough restaurants etc to do the job for a few days.  The better location is Malahide, but we found practically the only place in town (The Grand) big enough for us a bit too pricey.  We ended up at King Sitric which was good.


I recommend the pricey, but excellent Aqua on the harbour for dinner.


Favourite Course: The clear winner here is Corballis.  The course offers just as many (or near as damn it) scintillating shots and views as the others at a far more palatable price.  Of course, any such place will have some dud holes, but these are easily over-looked.  Try to avoid this public course on weekends and bring your own beer!

Best Course: I think there is a clear winner here as well...The Island.  There isn't a single weak hole on the course and the combination of holes playing over great terrain and between dunes is extremely rare.  The big drawback is playability.  Get much of a wind and this place can be a beast.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 04:18:23 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2017, 06:10:40 AM »
Sean,


The 18th used to be 17 with the course closing on 10 hence the slight remove from the clubhouse.


Tom Simpson routing:


4,5,6,7,8,9,1,2,3


11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,10
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 06:26:36 AM by Ally Mcintosh »

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2017, 12:28:17 PM »
Sean,
Thanks for doing this tour.  I agree with the shortcomings you mentioned, but for me the course is better than the sum of its parts.  The green complexes are so good that there's still plenty of interest all of the way around.  I thought it was more fun than the Island, but that may just be due to playing corridors.  It's been a number of years since I played either of these courses.

Garland Bayley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2017, 01:21:14 PM »
You mention some luminaries at the beginning of the thread. When I was there, they pointed out Des Smyth to us saying he practiced there nearly every day.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2017, 01:27:35 PM »
Sean,
Thanks for doing this tour.  I agree with the shortcomings you mentioned, but for me the course is better than the sum of its parts.  The green complexes are so good that there's still plenty of interest all of the way around.  I thought it was more fun than the Island, but that may just be due to playing corridors.  It's been a number of years since I played either of these courses.


I think this is a good summation by John. For me, Baltray is a better course than The Island. It is one I could happily play every day of the week.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2017, 02:00:33 PM »
Ally

I probably would rather play Baltray than The Island on a weekly basis, but I have no doubt in my mind which is the better course. The Island has as many high points and nowhere near the number of average points.  There seems to be great praise for Baltray's greens, but I don't think they are nearly good enough to balance out the large handful of so-so holes. Perhaps a bigger issue for me is the often rather plain bunkering.  Simpson is well known for his crafty bunker schemes and I don't get this at all from Baltray. Much of the time the bunkering is rather obviously placed.  I was hoping for bunkering something more similar to New Zealand, but Baltray falls well short of that.  That is why I wondered if the scheme has been altered.

Other than the obvious handful of high quality holes, where Baltray shines is in the walk and its playability.  I am in complete agreement with the Confidential Guide, somewhere between 6 & 7.   

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 02:06:49 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2017, 05:14:04 PM »
I think a 7 is probably right, Sean. I might be tempted to push it close to an 8 but not quite.


I've played it a number of times but it's been a few years and true enough, there are a number of holes where I can't remember some bunker placements. I'll check that Simpson plan.


On the flip side, I'll try and say again in short something that I've elaborated on more before: I believe that some people get conned by beautiful and intricate contouring on links courses. I love good looking micro-contours more than anyone. I also love seeing a ball travel through the ground bumping and jumping amongst micro-contours. Nothing beats The Old Course.


But not all courses with violent contouring are like The Old Course. You realise after numerous plays on some of these courses (The Island included) that often the best play is to try and fly your ball to the green. Meanwhile one plays some "flatter" courses over and over and will continue to learn that almost every green is better approached by bumping a ball up. This is partly because the bounce is more predictable.


In other words, years and years of continued play on links courses has taught me that the ground game suits the supposedly "fairer" courses more so than many of the courses that provide the "fun" shots on initial games.


In the end, golf is still about getting round as efficiently as possible so eventually you defer to the best way to play each course.


Ally

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2017, 07:56:06 PM »
Ally

I too like courses where I can scuttle shots up to the green.  But I reckon a mix of styles is what is best regardless of what I like. To me, The Island mixes it up very well without offering a single hole which can be labeled weak.  I can't say that for Baltry.  What I can say is Baltray is good enough regardless of its shortcomings....thats fine. I don't love the course by a long shot, but its good enough to entertain me.  However, I would be more entertained if the flatter holes were better designed or if there was a better bunker scheme  :D 

Looking back:

Pinching fairway bunkers: 1, 2, 9, 13 & 16

Pinching green bunkers: 1,10 & 17

Oddly placed bunkers: 6, 8, 9, 12 & 18

Again, this scheme strikes me as very odd for Simpson...almost amateurish.

Ciao   
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 08:12:23 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Garland Bayley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2017, 11:10:24 PM »
Sean,


The 18th used to be 17 with the course closing on 10 hence the slight remove from the clubhouse.


Tom Simpson routing:


4,5,6,7,8,9,1,2,3


11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,10

Presumably 1 and 10 were much shorter in the original to allow crossing from 6 to 7 and 17 to 18 in the original routing.



Unfortunately Google Earth had the boundary wrong, so the 14 tee is actually cut out of the jpeg.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 12:34:01 AM by Garland Bayley »
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2017, 02:09:37 AM »
Hi Garland,


If you imagine the 1st and 10th holes playing straighter with the tees and first half of the fairway flipped over for each hole (i.e. next to previous green but slightly back), then you would see no crossing and a natural flow. This also explains Sean's query about 10 hitting straight at OOB. It never used to.


Sean - I agree that variety is the spice. And whilst I will have to concede on the bunker placements (they don't seem particularly inspiring - although I remember liking the sole fairway bunker on 6), my argument is that Baltray's green sites give you more variety and options than you get at The Island.

Jeff Bergeron

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2017, 10:21:14 PM »
👍

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2017, 04:58:03 AM »
10 used to play as the 18th Sean. 'Twas a par-5

So if the 10th was the 18th as a par 5, did this cross over the current 1st (Simpson 7th)?  The Simpson course ended with two par 5s?

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

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY 1-15
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2017, 01:37:14 PM »
10 used to play as the 18th Sean. 'Twas a par-5

So if the 10th was the 18th as a par 5, did this cross over the current 1st (Simpson 7th)?  The Simpson course ended with two par 5s?

Ciao


Yes - The Simpson course ended with two par-5's. There were no crossing holes though. Both the current 1st and 10th just played straight. Imagine tees right beside previous greens and you have it.

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2017, 05:26:40 AM »
Returned to Baltray for the first time in 7 years yesterday.


Despite my previously stated love of the course, I was actually underplaying it.


This course is one of the very best. The good stuff is simply fantastic - check out some of those Simpson greens and the way every little nob and shape means something (as well as looking brilliant).


Also the landscape - the fairways are much more violent in places.


Even the holes I considered lesser before. The 9th is a beauty, a long elegant 4 with perfect bunkering placed in to ridges.


There is SO much going on at Baltray that I'd consider moving it from the perennial "6th" spot in Ireland to sit with and aside the BIG 5.


Weakest holes: 2 and 10 although the former shapes nicely to the eye.


Best holes - I honestly think 3 to 7 is one of the best stretches in golf with 12-16 not far behind.


GREAT greens: 5, 6, 7, 13 (one little nob  at front right does it all) and 14


A proper links.

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Short Tour of Dublin North: Beguiling BALTRAY
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2017, 03:04:01 PM »
Ally,
Thanks for the updated comments on Baltray.  I agree with you on the stretch from 3-7 and the course in general.

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back