Athlone Golf Club was founded in 1892 making it one of the longest established clubs in the country. It is situated on the shores of Lough Ree in the centre of the country having magnificent views of the lake. The course is partially built on the ancient esker Riada that helps drain the course making it one of the best winter courses in the Midlands.
With so many good holes on the course it is difficult to choose the best. The first is daunting, an elevated tee overlooking a fairway lined on both sides by mature trees. It will take another good strike to hit the elevated green. The 2nd can be heart-breaking, only 160 yards but yet so testy.
The green falls away by some 20ft to the left, anything on this side leaves you contecnding with heavy rough, overhanging trees and a very awkward stance. The redesigned 5th is a tough, dogleg par-5 that now features a large water hazard to guard the green. The 6th is an a brand new par-3 and what a gem – all carry across water from tee to with no shelter from any breeze that might blow across the lake. Not for the faint hearted!
Love it or loath it, the 12th is a hole the few visitors to Athlone will forget. A blind tee shot over a hill into a valley, the more you dare to cut off the hill on the drive the shorter the approach to the green, a classic risk reward scenario. Once in the valley you have a blind approach to the green that is guarded by a sand bunker on the left and grass bunker on the right. The long par-4 16th is a hole that would enhance any parkland course. OOB on the right and a fairway that slopes to mature trees on the left intimidates all but the stoutest of hearts. A long iron or fairway wood will have to negotiate the grove of five mature sycamores on the right hand side before getting near the target. A falloff to the left and a sand bunker guarding the right of the green compound the difficulty and justify the hole’s #1 stroke index.
The 18th is a terrific finishing hole, plenty of timber trouble left and right off the elevated tee. You are then left with a blind approach shot to an elevated green where you need to take your line from the tall trees behind the green.
The clubhouse boasts one of the best views in the country sitting on top of an esker with panoramic views of Lough Ree below. The clubhouse has all the conveniences one expects from a club of this standing. Members believe that the best pint of Guinness in the province is served by Noel and Chrissie behind the bar.
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