In places, this unique track, mixing cliff-top with links, defies belief with its incredible setting and series of spectacular holes
Old Head Golf Links Course Review
Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 33
Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 31 2017/18 - 35 2015/16 - 39 2013/14 - 33 2011/12 - 31 2009/10 - 22
Summer Green Fees
Visitor Times: Guests are invited throughout the week subject to availability, but Old Head is very much a private members’ course with limited outside play. Prior booking is essential
Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,588 Yards
Changes since previous ranking
The green on the par-5 8th (God’s Acre) was relocated in 2019 to add elevation and lengthen the hole by 40 yards. Similar changes to the par-5 10th (Dun Cearmna) last year have also increased its length by 40 yards.
Off course, Old Head has spent €10 million redeveloping the clubhouse and its 20 executive suites.
Old Head Golf Links Course Review
This spectacular track, laid out on a towering headland jutting into the Atlantic near Kinsale in County Cork, boasts elements of links and cliff-top golf… and arguably the most dramatic setting of any course in our Top 100.
Many of the holes are stunning, but the 12th and 13th, near the headland’s slender neck and perilously close to sheer vertical drops, sum up the Old Head experience.
The 12th tee is cut into the towering cliffs and the drive must be played uphill towards a hidden fairway. Golfers have apparently had to be escorted away from this tee with vertigo-induced symptoms! The ribbon-like approach then leads to a precarious green perched some 150 feet above the Atlantic.
The par-3 13th is then a short but dramatic cliff-hugger that relocated to the other side of the entrance road right by the edge a few years ago. Missing left is not a good idea here.
Related: Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 Courses
Maximising the drama
Despite Old Head’s dramatic setting and big reputation, the owners have never shied away from course changes in the eternal quest to further improve the layout.
Chief designer, Ron Kirby, has referred to a constant drive to take as much of the course as close to the cliff edges as possible to eke out every last ounce of visual drama from the available land.
The recent changes to the 8th and 10th are prime examples – neither par 5 lies right on the very edge, but extending both holes has also added elevation that enhances the visuals from their greens.
A similar strategy a few years ago saw the 6th extended and its green relocated closer to the remains of one of the headland’s early lighthouses. The beauty of this move is that it now affords the golfer a 360-degree view over the Atlantic, with the hole’s new name of ‘All Points’ entirely fitting.
You could run out of adjectives describing Old Head, but jaw-dropping pretty much sums it up!
The views available from the cliff-top holes starting at the 2nd are simply unlike any you will have had the opportunity to savour before. On a good day, the Old Head experience is among the best that one can have playing golf.
Given its location and design, on a summer’s day it can be epoch-making!
In places, this unique track, mixing cliff-top with links, defies belief with its incredible setting and series of spectacular holes.
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