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Hollystown Golf Club,
Hollystown,
Dublin 15,
Ireland.
Tel: +353 (0) 182 07444
Fax: +353 (0) 182 07447

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      03.07.2003 02:22
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      ~ ~ You might be forgiven for thinking that golf here in Ireland has become an extremely expensive pastime over the last decade or so. Many courses, which were previously fairly accessible and cheap to play, have raised the price of a green fee to ridiculously high levels to cash in on the booming economy and the huge influx of tourists to the shores of the “Emerald Isle”. Even if you are lucky enough to be a member of a golf club, many clubs have acted in similar vein, raising their annual subscriptions to the point where you nearly need to take out a second mortgage to afford to play there. BRIEF HISTORY OF HOLLYSTOWN ~ ~ Back in the early 1990’s a few farsighted entrepreneurs foresaw the growing demand for golf at a reasonable price from the general public, and began to open “pay as you play” courses. Hollystown Golf Club, located in the northwestern suburb of Mulhuddart on the outskirts of Dublin city, was one such development. Oliver Barry, an Irish businessman of note, bought up a vast track of under utilised farmland, and in 1992 Hollystown Golf Club first opened its doors for play. The course was designed by the late Eddie Hackett, an Irish golf course architect of some note, and originally consisted of 18 holes. A further nine holes, designed by the excellent course superintendent and greenkeeper, Joe Bedford, were added in the late 1990’s, which brought the development to 27 holes. ~ ~ Initially, Hollystown was a golf club which you played simply by paying a (very reasonable) green fee, but in the late 1990’s the decision was made to allow golfers to join as members. I first joined the club back in 1998, and have since spent five very happy years there as a member. Even the type of membership offered showed initiative. Other golf clubs charge you a hefty initial joining fee, (sometimes thousands of Euros!) and thereafter a substantial yearly subscription, but Hollystown did th
      ings rather differently. True to form, the membership was/is extremely reasonable, with no initial joining fee, and affordable yearly subscriptions. (I paid about €300 for 2003) They have kept to their “pay as you play” philosophy, and depending on the level of membership you take out, you pay a reduced green fee each time you play the course. (more on green fees later) This type of facility suits me very well, as I play a lot of competitive golf at other courses throughout the summer. It also suits the “occasional” golfer, who otherwise would be getting poor value for their often large yearly subscriptions at other golf clubs. The club is affiliated to the GUI (Golfing Union of Ireland), which means that your club handicap is “official”, and allows you to enter open competitions at other clubs. The opening of the third nine holes in the late 1990’s allows the club to maintain its large green fee business from visitors and golf societies, and also to facilitate its now large membership. THE GOLF COURSE ~ ~ But all of this initiative and innovation would count for nothing if the course itself didn’t come up to scratch. No matter how cheap and reasonable the membership and green fees, I personally wouldn’t stay a member if the course and facilities were second rate. Fortunately, since it opened for play back in 1992, Hollystown has gone from strength to strength, both in the facilities it offers and the fine parkland course it has matured into. The course designers were blessed with an abundance of mature trees, streams, and lakes, and were thus able to design the course around these features, giving Mother Nature a little helping hand where deemed necessary. More new trees and spinneys have been planted, and when these eventually mature, then the Lord alone knows how difficult the course will then become! The end result is a golf course that while still only 11 years old f
      eels and plays as though it has been there for decades. ~ ~ The 27 holes are split into three “nines”, the red, yellow and blue. Thus the course can be varied from day to day, with players playing any combination of two of the nines, in order to make up a full round of eighteen holes. My own particular favourite is the “blue nine” which also happens to be the most recently developed, opening for play as recently as August 1999. The weakest of the nines (again, in my opinion) is the “red nine”, but other players will disagree, and in truth, all the three nines are excellent in their own right. It would take forever to describe the 27 holes individually, so instead I’ll simply highlight what I consider to be some of the feature holes on the course. BLUE NINE ~ ~ If you start on the blue nine, then you are immediately faced with an extremely difficult par-4 measuring 390 yards, with trees and water coming into play with both your tee shot and your approach to the green. Trees line the left half of the fairway, and on the right is a huge lake, waiting to gobble up your new Titleist (or whatever ball you play) if you happen to hit a wayward drive to the right. Large mature trees guard the left and right hand approach to the green, with a small stream running between them. Even then the trouble is not finished, with two strategically placed bunkers on either side of the green, which can catch out even a well-struck approach shot. Walk off here with a par-4 on your scorecard, and you are playing well. Don’t get complacent though, as you are then immediately confronted with what I consider the toughest par-3 on the golf course. At 173 yards, it is usually reachable with a long to mid-iron, (unless the wind is blowing) but the big trick is to get your ball to stay on the putting surface. The same lake that came into play on the previous hole again features here. It cuts into the right
      front portion of the green, and on competition days the pin is invariably cut to the right hand edge of the putting surface. (surprise, surprise!) So you have a straightforward choice. You can go directly for the flagstick, and thus run the risk of landing in the water, or you can be a coward, and play the relatively safe shot to the left hand edge of the green. (I’m usually cowardly, unless I hit my tee shot to the right by mistake!) Even if you do play to the left, there is a strategically positioned bunker that can catch you out. To make a par-3 from the left hand side is very difficult, as you are left with a pitch shot to a green that slopes away from you, and towards that ever present water. Again, par here is an excellent result. YELLOW NINE ~ ~ There are two superb golf holes on this nine, the third and the seventh. The third hole is a sweeping par-5 measuring 488 yards. Not too long for a par-5 you might think, and you would be right, because the green is easily reachable with two good strikes. But both shots have to be hit to perfection if you are going to give yourself the opportunity of an eagle putt, or a two-putt birdie. The hole doglegs very sharply from right to left, and your tee shot has to be threaded between a very large mature tree on the right half of the fairway, and even more trees and a small ditch on the left. Big hitters can try to “carry the corner” of the dogleg, thus shortening their second shot considerably, but this year the club have allowed the rough to grow very long in the landing area, so there is now little advantage to be gained. Then second shot once again has to be threaded between two large mature trees that guard the green, with a stream running between them, and a large lake on the right. I’ve seen the green hit in two shots on lots of occasions, but unfortunately no longer hit the golf ball far enough to attempt this feat myself. A hole where a “cricket score”
      can very easily be run up by the too adventurous (or ambitious) golfer. The seventh hole is a monster of a par-4 measuring 431 yards. It calls for good accuracy with the driver, as there is yet again a small pond about 150 yards in front of the tee box to catch the poor drive. Too far right, and you are either into a small stream, or if you go across it, into savage rough. Too far left, and you will be caught out by two strategically placed bunkers. The second shot is again across a small ditch, with a very large tree ensuring it is very difficult to hit the green if your drive is too far down the right hand side of the fairway. The putting surface slopes very severely from back to front, so even if you manage to hit the green, two putts for a par-4 are no mere formality. If you go past the hole and leave yourself a downhill putt, you can very easily hit your first putt of the front of the green entirely. I’m always happy if I walk off this hole with even a bogey 5. RED NINE ~ ~ As I mentioned previously, this is my least favourite of the three nine hole loops at Hollystown. That said, there are a couple of excellent holes, the first and the eighth. The first is a par-4 measuring 404 yards, which doglegs from right to left. If you go too far right with your drive, then your second shot to the green is blocked by a bank of trees, leaving you no option but to lay up short. The shot called for here is a controlled draw, (right to left) as if you find the left hand side of the fairway you have a relatively clear second shot to the green. I say “relatively” clear, as you still have to negotiate a small pond just short of the green, and manage to avoid two well placed sand bunkers. The eighth is another par-4 of over 400 yards, (416 yards) and in my opinion the best golf hole on the red nine. You have to “thread the needle” with your drive here, and nothing short of a long, straight shot right down the middle of
      the fairway is required to give you a clear second shot to the green. Too far right, and you’re in rough grass, with a huge tree blocking your clear sight of the green. Too far left, and again you are either up to your knees in the rough, or in a sand bunker. Another enormous tree blocks your line from this side of the fairway. Get the drive right, and the hole is relatively easy, but left or right just a fraction, and you will be lucky to walk off with a par figure. THE CLUBHOUSE AND FACILITIES ~ ~ Now that I’ve given you a wee “taster” of the golf course itself, let me tell you a little about the off-course facilities. When I first visited Hollystown in the early 1990’s, the clubhouse consisted of a portacabin, where you paid your green fee, and could purchase snacks. But there is now an excellent custom built clubhouse, or as Hollystown like to call it, “Pavilion”. There are full changing facilities, including lockers for storing your equipment, and excellent showers. A spacious modern bar offers whatever beverage takes your fancy, as well as coffee and light meals. For more formal occasions, there is a large function room on the second floor, which also doubles up as a dining room and corporate suite. Ciaran Barry, the owner Oliver Barry’s son, ably undertakes the administration of the course and club, and is extremely approachable and very friendly to both members and visitors alike. His staff comes out of the same mould. If the weather is fine, there is a veranda and patio where you can relax with your after golf beverage and view the closing holes of the yellow and blue nines. At the side of the clubhouse is a small driving range and practice area, where you can loosen up before your round, or go to iron out flaws in your game afterwards. Buckets of practice balls can be hired for a mere €3 each. There is also an excellent practice putting green. THE COST ~ ~ This is the nice part. A round of golf at Hollystown will cost you as little as €16, (yes, you read that right, €16!) if you play before 10.30AM during the week, or in the evening during the summer months. After 10.30AM (weekdays) the price rises to a still very reasonable €25, and a round at the weekend will cost you €35. If you haven’t brought your golf clubs with you, you can rent a set for only €20, and if you are the lazy sort, a ride-on golf buggy will set you back €25. Members of the club get a discounted rate at all times. So if you are after good golf, and brilliant after round “craic”, then Hollystown should be high up on your golfing itinerary the next time you visit the Dublin area. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ HOW TO GET THERE The simplest way is to find your way to the main N3 road from Dublin to Navan. Go past the old Phoenix Park race Course, and then straight through the next three roundabouts. Take the next exit for the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, and follow the signs for Mulhuddart Village. Turn right at “Gleesons” bar. Go about two miles to a roundabout, and then swing left. The entrance to the golf club is then about 500 yards on your left hand side. (It’s also well signposted, which is rare in Ireland!) The course is about half-an-hour from Dublin city centre, and only about 20 minutes from Dublin airport. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONTACTS AND BOOKING Tel: Dublin 8207444 Email: info@hollystown.com Website www.hollystown.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copyright KenJ July 2003 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

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