Hogs Head Golf Club

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  • Architect:
    • Jones Jr, Robert Trent
  • Holes of Merit:
    6, 12, 13, 14

Overview

Wide fairways, double greens, sand-scaped and rye fescue grass... it sounds and plays like a proper links from American RTJ Jr.

Hogs Head Golf Club Videos

A montage of incredible photography from Evan Schiller can be seen here


Golf Course Review

Hogs Head Golf club is a recently built links golf course in Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland. A firm and fast links there are mountain views, epic vistas of Ballinskelligs Bay strategic value added by the Finglas River which meanders through the course.

Hole By Hole

A complete 18 hole overview can be seen on the Hog's Head Golf Club website. Click here and swipe right to take the tour.

A few highlights for the architecturally inclined stood out. The 1st hole is a par 5, reachable in two, with a centreline bunker. Inspiration was taken from AW Tillinghast who believed the first hole should ease the golfer into the round. The opening hole has been appropriately named 'Shake Hands'.

The 2nd hole plays in the opposite direction with Ballinskelligs Bay as a backdrop and uses Waterville House to frame the green. The hole appears to be guarded by bunkers front left but clever use of layering creates this visual deception. There are in fact just two bunkers greenside the others short and left near the landing zone in the fairway.

The first par 3 comes on the 3rd and also sees the introduction of the Finglas River. The green hugs the river's edge on the right and there is a bailout area left. The pitch from there maybe even more frightening than the tee shot itself!

The next standout feature of the front nine is the use of a properly deep Biarritz green on the par 5 6th. As noted on the website, this type of green is typically employed on par 3's. Its inclusion here certainly bears on the decision to go for it in two or layup leaving a tactical third.

Hole 7 is a straight par 4 into the prevailing wind. No bunkers are to be found green side but there is a centreline bunker in the fairway which contains a speed slot that will shorten this seemingly innocuous hole. From the 7th green to the 8th tee you cross via a tunnel under Baslicon Road where you will be presented with the shortest of the three-shot holes leading you out to sea.

The 9th is named Broken Bowl. This is in reference to the semi punchbowl green complex which lends itself to using the ground contours to funnel the ball rather than an aerial approach.

The 11th is a short par 3 with a double green and boomerang or horseshoe-shaped bunker. The Reverse Cape tee shot comes at the 12th. The second par 3 in three holes comes on the 13th. The hole can range from 165 to 230 yards thanks to its two(!!) separate cliffside greens.

The 14th is a long Par 5 which shares the green with the 11th. The double plateau, reverse Biarritz green is nothing if not bold! Nothing less than precision will be need on your approach.

17 is a true risk-reward, half par hole. Downhill with the prevailing wind will yield plenty of birdies and bogeys.

For Members But Open to Strangers

The motto of the private members club is 'Built for Friends - For Friends.' 20% of the tee times set aside strangers - non-member and non-member guests. Simply contact the club prior to your visit and they will warmly accommodate to the best of their abilities. If you are not accompanied by a member the green fee is €275. It is a walking-only course with a mandatory caddie required for the round. A caddie will cost you another €100 but includes gratuity. The green fee, caddie and tip will set you back €375 in all.

Conclusion

11 of the 18 holes have been designed with Golden Age design elements which should be applauded. It remains to be seen whether the woke golf community will get past themselves and embrace the Robert Trent Jones Jr design.

It is in contrast with the rugged and pure links that Ireland is known for. It would appear though, it is a perfect fit for the market it caters too. It has certainly caught my attention and I hope to render my own judgement as soon as Ireland and its golf become a possibility again.


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