Carlow Golf Club - Par 70 - 6,572 Yards
The par of 70 gives an indication of the test that lies ahead on this 6,500 yard course. One of Ireland's best inland courses, Carlow is as good a test of golf as you would wish to have. Several long par-4s, numerous dog-legs, small, slick greens and several thought provoking tee-shots combine to make Carlow a true championship test.
The condition of the course is always first rate, helped immensely by the naturally free-draining soil. The undulating terrain was formerly a deer park and mature woods feature prominently in the layout.
The course opens with fair and testing holes, straight hitters will be rewarded. The par-4 second is 320 yards from the championship tees. However it is very difficult to find the green and those using an iron to lay up in the correct part of the fairway will be rewarded.
The sixth is an excellent par-3, playing from one hilltop to another and playing longer than it looks. Well protected by bunkers, the green is one of the larger on the course and those finding it can be rewarded with an easy par. The next hole is 435 yards and ranks as the hardest hole on the golf course. Two good shots are required to find the green here. The following hole is of equal length but plays downhill from the highest point on the course through a funnel of trees.
The back nine begins with a dog-leg over water and thought must be given to the correct approach. At just 300 yards there is scope for going for the green while the safest option is to take an iron from the tee and leave an easy pitch to the flag.
The 14th is a 455-yard monster, doglegging to the left. Taking too much off the corner can lead to toruble, playing too conservatively can leave the green unreachable. There are cross bunkers short of the green - designed cleverly to catch those overambitious approach shots.
Christy O'Connor Senior lists the 16th hole as his favourite 16th hole in Ireland. It is another long par-4 playing downhill through a funnel of trees. An unseen hollow in front of the green makes the approach look shorter. A very tough hole that will reward two well struck shots.
The 17th is another fine par-3, where accuracy from the tee is critical, there is trouble both left and right. Finding the right tier on this two tiered green can help avoid a 3 -putt. Carlow finishes with another dogleg, this time a par-5 that can reward the thinking golfer with a birdie. Again the temptation to cut the corner will penalise those who fail...
There is no doubt that Carlow is one of the finest inland tests in Ireland.
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