IVAN MORRIS ON SPANISH POINT

Ivan Morris has been a category one golfer for over fifty years. He has competed in countless international and regional amateur championships. Voted Golf Nut of the Year by the Golf Nut Society of America in 2002 (the first non-American to receive the dubious accolade) based on the strength of his first book Only Golf Spoken Here, Ivan is also the author of The Life of O’Reilly and The Doonbeg Ghosts. He  co-authored Larry Lambrecht’s stunning photographic coffee table book on Irish seaside golf Emerald Gems and has been a contibuting editor to Golf Digest Ireland since 2003. He is a member of the Irish Golf Writers Association and the European Golf & Travel Media Association and has had articles published in Great Britain, the United States of America, Denmark and Sweden. Ivan writes a weekly column in the Limerick Leader newspaper and was editor-at-large of the annual almanac The Essential Golfer’s Guide – Ireland. His latest book, Life As A Way Of Golf is available as an e-book on Amazon.com or in hard copy format from the publishers, www.bookhub4u.ie.

 

This is what Ivan Morris had to say about his visit to Spanish Point Golf Club.

IVAN Morris says his experience of playing Spanish Point has left him wanting more.

Spanish Point’s ancient golf links overlooks one of the most beautiful and dangerous stretches of coastline in the West of Ireland, as vessels belonging to the ill-fated Spanish Armada found out to their cost in 1601.

Since 2008, the quirky, 9-holes course that was founded in 1896 has been quietly undergoing a transformation. It was only recently that all of the careful planning and diligent graft could begin to be appreciated when a new routing sequence was sufficiently ready to be put into play. It’s amazing what can be done with 14 extra acres when it consists of the right turf and is in the right place.

Of course, the helpful attitude of the family of the late, President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery who generously facilitated the acquisition of a strategic and precious parcel of land that was in complete harmony with the existing turf played a huge part in the result that ‘allowed’ the course to be not only lengthened but altered tastefully and substantially too.

When the late, Austin Skerritt of Lahinch and Rosslare fame was called in to redesign ‘a few new greens and a slightly longer routing’ his minimalist approach was not entirely due to a ‘small budget.’ He knew that he had a diamond in his hands that didn’t require much polishing. The final result is a perfectly proportioned routing that flows beautifully.

The new, nerve-wrecking, climax with the former 3rd, 4th and 5th holes becoming the last three climb up, across the peak of and over a colossal dune that would not be out of place at world renowned Doonbeg and Lahinch nearby.

On the 7th, any timidity is bound to be expensive. One poor stroke at the 8th will destroy a good score in the making. The 9th is as fine a par-3, as on any championship course. Sadly, Austin Skerritt passed away before his plans were finalized but he has left a legacy that will be appreciated for a long time to come.

Way back in 1896, the success of the golf course at Lahinch, 20-miles away, persuaded the Moloney family, owners of The Atlantic House Hotel to turn farmland into golfing ground in order to attract prospective guests.

The 2012-14 club president, Tom Mernagh, has been involved in golf for 55-years. Introduced to the game as an 11-years old ‘lesson caddie’ at Newlands Golf Club, Mernagh understands golf from the inside.

A lesson caddie was engaged to pick up the balls when the club pro, Harry Murphy, gave lessons. Tom told me proudly how strictly caddies were trained in those far-gone days. It gave him an appreciation of etiquette that has stood to him in business and in all aspects of his life.

“I received much of my general education through golf and met many wonderful people and characters, the most famous of them was Henry Cotton.” He told me.

With commendable patience and dedication Tom is making sure that the behind the scenes group of members charged with bringing Skerritt’s design to a grand fruition, succeed. New greens at the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th are already in play.

“It’s a bonus to have bone dry turf all year round and be able to move machinery at will. Few other Golf Clubs would dare to do so in winter and the improvements will go on for another few years yet.” Says the 6-handicap, former President.

My acid test of a golf course is, wanting to play it again and again. Spanish Point now meets that simple standard. You can be sure I’ll be going back.

 

 

 

 

   
             

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Spanish Point Golf Club

 

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SPANISH POINT: GOLF AS IT HAS BEEN PLAYED ALONG IRELAND'S WEST COAST FOR 120 YEARS

SPANISH POINT GOLF CLUB —  A little-known and largely unremarked 9-hole course, Spanish Point is located along Ireland's West Coast approximately mid-way between two famous, highly-ranked neighbors: Lahinch (to the north) and Doonbeg (to the south). Spanish Point is built among rugged, hilly dunes overlooking the beach at Spanish Point, scenic and unprotected from the Atlantic weather, be it kind (shown above) or fierce. Spanish Point is no golf resort. It is a local club of considerable age and tradition, built on a coast with a remarkable history. Its amenities are simple and sufficient. Its members and staff are welcoming and devoted to the game, the course, and the location. Spanish Point provides a glimpse at golf as originally played along the Irish seaside. This is no nostalgic theme park. Come to play a quick nine, but leave time for a second nine — like Ireland itself, Spanish Point is hard to leave.

 

 

 

 

SPANISH POINT GOLF CLUB is a seaside course which comes within 100 yards of the sea. It opened in 1896 as a par 27 course, but has been remodeled over time to its current par-34 configuration. With undulations, hills, and rugged rough, Spanish Point offers variety and challenge. When the Atlantic winds blow, which is most of the time, the course takes on a very different character, especially at the 115-yard, par 3  hole 8/17, called ‘The Terror’.  Spanish Point Golf Club is close to Lahinch, one of the world's great courses.

A fair day at Spanish Point may mean rain-free, but strong Atlantic breezes can still cause havoc with play. Photo courtesy Spanish Point Golf Club.
A fair day at Spanish Point may mean rain-free, but 
strong Atlantic breezes can still cause havoc with play.

Photo courtesy Spanish Point Golf Club.

 

 

Like Lahinch, Spanish Point is located along the notorious Atlantic (western) coast of Ireland in rural County Clare, about one-third of the way between the southernmost point and northernmost points on the island. And, like Lahinch, the course is both picturesque and challenging. But, unlike Lahinch, Spanish Point is a course for everyone, and at the right price.

 

 

 

Not everyone has the right handicap to get on LAHINCH or BALLYBUNION. Not every golfer wants to pay for the Lahinch or Ballybunion experience. Not every golfer wants to go to the trouble of arranging for a tee-time far in advance and chancing bad weather at Lahinch or Ballybunion. But many golfers would like to experience an Irish links course along the famous Atlantic coast. Spanish Point offers challenging Irish links golf at delightfully low rates, without requiring tee times or handicap cards.

 

Close by are beaches, beautiful countryside, and Irish history and culture. Spanish Point itself is one of several suspected landfalls of crews of the ill-fated Spanish Armada, who failed in their attempt to destroy the Elizabethan English Navy. Visit the towering Cliffs of Moher, about 15 miles north, Ireland’s great Atlantic sea wall. Explore the Burren, COUNTY CLARE’S MYSTERIOUS MOONSCAPE, littered with monuments from prehistory and the Middle Ages. Stop at a pub in Milltown Malbay, a typical County Clare village known for TRADITIONAL LIVE IRISH MUSIC in its traditional Irish pubs.

 

 

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