Experiencing the Dunmore East tournament - with the boys and the boyos!

Bob Warters's picture
Bob Warters
Tue, 15 May 2012

So what of the four courses chosen to host the 2012 Classic? How do they compare? What are the challenges? What separates them from the mundane?

Dunmore East

Overlooks the village with panoramic views of the bay, the appropriately named Hook Lighthouse - the oldest in Ireland - and the Saltee Islands.

Its 18 holes (par-72) vary from glorious yellow, gorse-lined fairways which sweep inland toward the Commeragh mountains between man-made lakes and ditches to a rugged, finishing stretch which includes the steeply downhill par-3 14th and stunning 16th which demands a cliff-to-cliff tee shot over a 300-foot chasm.

My favourite hole: The 175-yard par-3 seventh, where an uphill tee shot is rewarded with a stunning view over the village and harbour far below.

Faithlegg House Hotel GC

Designed by Paddy Merrigan in 1993, the course stands in the grounds of Faithlegg House Hotel  formerly both an 18th century mansion and a training centre for novice monks. Set among mature oaks, it carries Merrigan’s familiar stamp of undulating greens, water hazards and perfectly placed sand traps and has staged both European Ladies Tour and EuroPro events.

It’s a great driving course with manicured fairways setting up demanding approaches while memorable finishing holes start with the tight, par-3 16th, emerging from the woods to 17 and 18 with the imposing hotel as the backdrop

My favourite hole: The par-5 second demands a long straight drive and accurate second avoiding a deep hazard on the right. The approach is uphill towards the church on the hill and a large green which slopes from the back.?


One of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland (founded in 1894) evidenced by the plaques of individual and team honours around its walls. As well as top amateur and professional tournaments, it hosted the 2011 Irish Youth Championship and Ladies Senior Home International matches. It will stage the Irish Closed Championship in 2015.

Not content to settle for its Championship 18-hole course, the progressive members voted to engage famed designer Jeff Howes top remodel the existing course in 2006 while creating a new nine holes.

My favourite hole: Though the tenth is a nugget of a par-3, its demands from the tee proved too extreme for anything less than a bogey. However, the 16th is rightly the signature - a par-5 where the second shot lays up to a large lake. Then it’s heart-in-mouth time to try to get close enough for at least a single putt birdie attempt. Sadly not for me but it was exciting trying!

Waterford Castle

Reputedly Ireland’s only true island course, surrounded by the Suir River estuary and accessed only by the chain driven car ferry, operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Close to the City of Waterford, it was designed by Irish legend Des Smyth and has matured quickly in its 20 years with fairways sweeping up and down its undulating terrain.

New Zealander James Funnell is its resident director of golf and already has developed a detectable Irish brogue to his native accent. Local deer also roam the fairways oblivious to the golfers while I also spotted several heron swooping down on their prey in the water hazards.

Two loops of nine work back to the clubhouse which nearby has its own Swilcan Bridge. The course also shares with Faithlegg and Mount Juliet a three-course pass for a total of €123.

My favourite hole: I’m tempted to share with designer Smyth the par-3 16th as my favourite, but in my misplaced bravado hit my 3-wood into the lake! Instead I’ll pick the downhill 11th where I claimed an outrageous par and one of my playing partners, Deirdre from Castlewarden, near Dublin, joyously danced around after pitching in for birdie.

Fact File

We stayed at:
 Seacliff House Self Catering (beside the Dunmore East golf course)

We played at: Dunmore East GC (00353 (0)51 383151), Faithlegg House Hotel GC (00353 (0)51 382241), Waterford Castle GC (00353 (0)51 871633) and Tramore GC (00353 (0)51 386170)

We recommend: Haven Hotel (00353 (0)51 383150), The Strand Inn (00353 (0)51 383174), Azzurro Restaurant (00353 (0)51 383141), The Spinnaker Restaurant (00353 (0)51 383133) and Lemon Tree Café (00353 (0)51 383164)

Next year’s tournament

Dates for 2013 Spring Golf Classic are April 28 to May 2.  It’s a four-player team and singles event played over four superb courses. For further information visit  www.waterford-dunmore.com/tourism

Tell us on the forum your experiences of playing golf in the Waterford area of south east Ireland. And remember to join us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest golf news.



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