St. Anne’s Golf Club is a highly impressive links course laid out on the northern half of Bull Island, Dublin’s principal ecological attraction. Although less well known than its near neighbour Royal Dublin, with which it shares the island, St Anne’s completed a major renovation in 2003 and can now be considered a first class links challenge in the traditional style.
The beauty of St Anne’s lies in its complete naturalness. From the impressive clubhouse you can survey the equally impressive surroundings and the entire golf course as it flows through the low dunes interspersed with gorse thickets. Just outside the clubhouse are several palm trees.
The wind on Bull Island can come from any direction and will dictate the challenge presented. Downwind holes will require well judged running shots on these fast running fairways and greens. Playing into the wind is a major challenge for both club selection and shot execution and any ball missing a green will severely test your scrambling skills.
There are several tight holes with out of bounds threatening on several holes either right of left. Well placed bunkers wait for the over cautious. A notable feature of St. Anne’s is that thought is required at all times – get into correct position for approach shots to ensure a good chance of par.
The first hole is a good example. Out of bounds and heavy rough threaten the right hand side but fairway bunkers guard the left. Straightness rather than length should be a priority. The second shot must be placed in a position to allow a straightforward approach to a green well-protected by sand. Downwind will allow a direct approach but land the ball well short and let it chase on.
The OOB threat switches to the left at the 382-yard 5th hole where the fairway funnels to a narrow channel to the green. The 6th is a very good par-3 where the OOB again switches to the right and leaves little room for error.
The outward half finishes with three par-4’s the pick definitely being the index 1 rated seventh hole (472 Yards). A stream traverses the fairway at approximately 200 yards and must always be considered a risk unless playing downwind. Once negotiated a long approach is required to a well placed green that has two levels. Putting from one to the other needs to be avoided.
Together with the ninth, the first three holes on the homeward half are newly constructed on reclaimed land. The 10th, a par 3 measuring 178 yards, is protected by a water hazard and OOB to the right. The par-5 11th and 13th holes provide a scoring chance if negotiated carefully but the 436-yard 12th provides a sterner test and is a classic links par-4.
The homeward run is especially memorable with a bunker disguising the length remaining to the 15th green that typifies the completely natural links feel of the entire course. The 16th is also a par-4 and a superb driving hole where trouble again threatens on the right but bunkers await on the left. Another large green is separated in the middle by a hogs back and finding the correct portion is imperative. A fine par-3 of 186 yards where bunkers guard the entrance to the semi-blind green comes before the final St. Anne’s challenge.
On the eighteenth tee the green is apparent tucked behind a hillock and slightly to the left. A well defined line of low dunes points the direction of the fairway and continues a driving distance to a series of low hummocks that will kick the ball either left or right. The right hand portion gives the most direct approach to the green but is tighter, balls to the left will require negotiation of the hill guarding the green.
St. Anne’s is one of those traditional links courses that cannot fail but to inspire and exhilirate the visiting golfer. It challenges your ability in a subtle and gentle manner without being severe or over-punishing.
As you reflect happily while surveying the magnificant sea views from the friendly clubhouse, we are sure you will agree that St. Anne’s is a fine links golf course that provides enjoyment and challenge in equal measure.
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