Play Bantry Bay because it is a diamond among the hidden gems of golf courses; cut and shaped by Eddie Hackett and Christy O’Connor Jnr out of the hills overlooking Bantry Bay. Stay in Bantry Bay like I did, because it has a peace which will enfold you daring you to let go of cares, flop out and just be for a while. The Gulf Stream warms the sea. The sun appears regularly as Beara Head has a higher ratio of sunshine and good weather than other parts of South Ireland, which for me was a compelling reason to drift for a while by the sea. There are excellent hotels, guest houses and cottages to rent.
When you are ready to test your mettle against the course, it will take you to your limits whether you play scratch, have a low handicapper or are still working your way down. Eddie Hackett originally designed the course in 1975 as a 9 hole Pro Am. In 1997 Christy O’Connor redesigned it extending onto new land and creating an 18 hole course. It is a USGA standard course on a 170 acres.
The first impression is of hobbit country, a mass of little hills, winding streams, small copses always against the impossible grandeur of the sea and the vastness of the sky. As you walk the course the twistiness of the design through narrow spaces and wide fairways by the sea, the many mounds and blind corners accentuate the feeling of being in quite another land.
The course will demand your best play and reward you with some superb moments. Perhaps you climb a blind hillock and discover your perfectly placed ball lying on the fairway but hardly notice, stopped dead by the sea and the islands in front of the Beara Mountains dark blue in the distance. Or perhaps you sink a perfect long putt on a complex green and feel pure wonder that you did.