The Royal Dublin Golf Club - Par 72 - 6,939 Yards
The Royal Dublin Golf Club is one of Ireland's oldest and most prestigous golf clubs. Founded in 1885, Royal Dublin is a classic golf links located just north of Dublin city centre on the famous Bull Island nature reserve.
The course plays in the tradtional links manner of nine holes out and nine holes back. The outward half plays towards the northeast and has the advantage of being downwind in the prevailing southwesterly wind for most of its holes.
Host to the Irish Open from 1983-1985, Royal Dublin is as fine a test of links golf in the traditional manner as there is to be found anywhere. The opposite is then true for the closing 9, eight of which play almost directly southwest and into the teeth of the wind.
The course opens with two par-4s sandwiching a par-5. All require accuracy from the tee with mounds, rough and fairway bunkers catching errant shots. Judgement of line and distance is all important on the approach and the greens provide many subtle breaks and borrows that require concentration to be maintained until safely in the hole.
The fourth is an excellent opening par-3, the only hole on the opening 9 to play back towards the clubhouse. At 179 yards club selection and committment to the shot are vital, especially into the wind where even a fairway wood may be required.
The fifth is a marvellous par-4 requiring a long drive to a narrow fairway well framed by sandhills on either side. The approach will require a long-iron and a deep bunker lies hidden to the left of the green. Noel Fogarty, an Irish Amateur international, calls it the best par 4 in Ireland.
The outward half continues to the end of the course with two par-3s (6th and 9th), the par-4 7th and par-5 8th. It pays to be well ahead at this point in the round as the inward half is the tougher nine, especially if the wind is blowing. It is here that Christy O'Connor Senior, Ireland's most famous and best loved golfer, learned his trademark long-irons steered unerringly straight low into the wind.
A variety of testing tee-shots are required to find the fairways on the long holes. Out of Bounds threatens at many points to the right, there is a burn that also runs along the right hand side and many fairway bunkers also threaten. The only par-3 on the homeward half is at the 12th, a long hole taht measures 208 yards from the tips and requires a precise shot to avoid the mounds on the left and bunker to the right.
The final four holes are all par-4's with the 18th being the most famous hole on the course. Out of bounds threatens the entire right hand side of the fairway, which is one of the most generous on the course. It needs to be as the approach, to reach the green in regulation, must be played diagnoally across the OOB wall to the green tucked behind the wall on the far side of the dogleg. This area is known as 'the Garden' and is one of the most famous OOB areas in Irish golf.
Royal Dublin is as fine a test of links golf in the traditional mould as you will find anywhere. It has produced some of Ireland's finest golfers as the ability to strike the ball must be coupled with a great degree of short game skills.
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